stephanie jones

Archive for September, 2008|Monthly archive page

Constructing texts to persuade voters…Critical literacies at work

In creativity, critical literacy, democracy, politics, satire as critical literacy, social action, teacher education resources on September 24, 2008 at 11:18 pm

Here’s a shout out to Karen Spector for sending this link:

I’m Voting Republican

It’s a brilliantly constructed web-based text and video that would be lots of fun to have students explore why the website is called “I’m voting Republican,” why the video is constructed the way it is, how satire and parody can be used as social critique and for the work of social change, and how its “official” look plays a powerful role in the potential persuasiveness of the text itself.

I would also encourage students of many ages to research each of the “issues” raised by each actor/actress in the video and compare what they learn to the website’s content…

Have fun!

God, Politics, and Public Schooling: Interrogating the Separation of Church and State

In American Dream, anti-bias teaching, critical literacy, films for teacher education, inquiry, justice, politics, teacher education resources on September 10, 2008 at 3:27 am

This is such a hot issue in the media lately…perhaps we can all take advantage of it and help our students explore what the separation of church and state means on paper and how messy things play out in practice. A bit of personal commentary then onto some great resources to use with students, family, friends, and foes:

For several years folks have been telling me that right-wing Evangelicals were getting themselves into strategic positions to influence federal policy. Call me slow, but I shrugged a lot of this crazy talk off. We have a separation of church and state in our nation, right? Don’t most people respect that separation? Didn’t people flee to our country to escape religious persecution? Isn’t this the land that is open and respectful of all religious beliefs (including the belief that there is no God)?

Religion and national politics, however, seem to go hand-in-hand nowadays. Obama was practically bullied into outright separating himself from his church because of comments made by the leader of that church, and now there are videos all over the web of Palin giving a speech in her former church talking about “God’s Will” and “God’s Plan” regarding such things as the Iraq war, the pipeline in Alaska, and the need for Alaskans to be right with God in order for good things to happen there. Really? Really?? And is it God’s Will that our society be so devastatingly unequal that little children are going to bed hungry tonight in all of our cities? Is it God’s Will that Cubans are fighting for their lives tonight because of the devastation they’ve experienced this hurricane season? And what about those innocent Iraqis and Pakistanis that suffer because of world politics?

I’ve been thinking a whole lot about the hypothetical separation between church and state, and I offer some food for thought in the following resources – some of which I’ve used in courses and others I consider in the privacy of my own home:

An excerpt from Our Spirits Don’t Speak English – a brilliant film about Indian Boarding Schools and the explicit intentions to civilize and Christianize U.S. indigenous people from the 1600s through much of the 1900s while stripping them of their native languages and forcing English-only policies and practices. I have used sections of this film in a course to consider whether and how these three purposes of education still operate in public schools today.

An excerpt from Jesus Camp – another terrific film documenting the inner tensions of Christianity in the United States between what I would call “radical” God-fearing right-wing Christians and Christians who strongly disagree with the former group’s teaching of hatred, fear, and even violence to young children. Connecting such radical beliefs to advocating for right-wing policies (including appointments to the Supreme Court) and “preaching” in church that tells members of the church what they should do with their personal votes is clearly action against the separation of church and state. I particularly enjoyed the insightful comments of the Christian radio talk show host in this documentary as he tries to make sense of how the roots of Christianity has bred such hate. Disclaimer: I have not used this in any course…I’ll let you know if I decide to.

And “Shouting Across the Divide” from This American Life A heartwrenching audio story of a Muslim family’s experience with a public school teacher, principal, and system following September 11, 2001. I have used this in a course (thanks to my colleague Amy Parks!) and it provoked lots of important discussion around religion, politics, public education, and Christian-based public school curricula.

I’d love to know what you folks do with students around these issues…

Voting for the “Hot Chick”? Feminism and Politics

In justice, politics on September 9, 2008 at 12:37 pm

It is remarkable that there is a woman candidate for Vice President on the Republican ticket.

And it might have actually meant something to the long and ongoing feminist movement until it became clear that a lot of old white men were demeaning Palin and every other woman in the United States by touting their “Hoosiers for the Hot Chick” and “Hottest Governor/Coolest State” buttons at the Republican National Convention.

And just like that she was positioned like every other woman in our country: an object to be desired (or not) by men who can’t see or think beyond faces and bodies.

Shame on you Republicans.

And thank you to the camera operators who zoomed in on these buttons. Whether they meant to celebrate them or shock and awe the television audience, these close-ups of buttons demonstrated that the old White, Patriarchal, Misogynist, Heterosexist, Sexist traditions of the Republican party are alive – and even renewed.

No. I won’t be voting for the Republican ticket. In fact I’m terribly insulted that the party assumed U.S. women voters would support any candidate with a vagina regardless of her beliefs about the earth, women, foreign affairs, health care, education, religion, and economic policies. Our nation is in a terrible position with high unemployment and joblessness, a failed health care system, stagnant and falling wages, a failed education policy, constant battles against women’s rights, and three wars being fought abroad. This is certainly not the time to cast one’s vote only to get a woman in the White House. It is the most important time to listen closely to policies aimed at our increased poverty in wages, health care, education, and international reputation.

Should we be terribly surprised that a woman who is NOT considered by men to be a “hot chick” (hmmmm…Hilary?) is the one who worked so hard at putting 18 million cracks in the tallest glass ceiling and that a much younger woman considered “hot” by men is the one who has the chance to shatter that ceiling?

No…nothing has changed, at least not much at all. The patterns are there, just take a closer look.

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