Group 17 – Teaching Science for Social Justice (11/2)

Teaching Science for Social Justice: Chapter 6 – Transformations: Science as a Tool for Change

Summary: In this chapter, we are introduced to a young Black Cuban American man named Darkside who lives at an inner city New York homeless shelter. Darkside is in the 10th grade and has dreams of graduating and making a life for himself, but he encounters many obstacles along the way. Among them are the dangers of gang violence and, of course, the hardships of living at the homeless shelter, without a place to call his own. Nonetheless, we see Darkside making great strides towards his goals by engaging with a community science effort to beautify the surrounding area with a garden. Through his enthusiasm and leadership, he is also helping to transform his community.

Connection to class:

  • Barry (2005) talks about how people who are advantaged (socioeconomically, by race, by association) have more opportunities to have access to a quality education and educational experiences. Similarly, he discusses how some students are disadvantaged by these very reasons and how they have to overcome much more challenges to get where the more advantaged students are. This creates a cycle were those who are at the top of the socioeconomic chain remain there, while those at the bottom remain there, too.
    • Some factors that affect whether students end up ahead that Barry (2005) mentions include:
      • Lack of parental care
      • Lack of regulation in childcare
      • Childcare
      • Income level
      • Encouragement
      • Cultural resources
      • Prenatal care
      • Child abuse
      • Maternity/Paternity leave
      • Number of words child is exposed to a year
      • Disability resources
      • Access to technology
      • Technology use ability
      • Private Vs. Public schools
      • Flexibility of time off
      • Political viability
      • Gerrymandering
  • Bettez also argues that “Racism is a problem for us all.” In this sense, racism is negatively affecting Darkside.

Highlights of Group Discussion:

  • Relating Darkside’s experience to personal experiences in schools as well as in-class observations as part of our pedagogical classes, although at a less extreme degree.
  • Linking ideas shared in class presentations today to the PLC reading and discussing lesson ideas that could have been helpful in utilizing science as a tool for positive change in these classrooms.
  • We talked about how science can empower students to want to go out and do things like make a community garden.

Questions to Pose:

  1. How can we guide students to use the knowledge they have to help them succeed in the classroom?
  2. How can we involve students in community projects like creating a community garden?
  3. How can science be used as a “tool for change” in that science can make students feel empowered to go above and beyond?

Mission Statement:

There was no change in our mission statement aside from the qualifications made from last week’s readings.

Next Week’s Reading:

Chapter 7 – Building Communities In Support of Youths’ Science Practices: Under the same assumptions as last week in that later chapters refer back to stories in previous chapters and hence a chronological approach towards our readings were adopted. Through this reading, we will be reading more personal stories of individual students with a focus on geographical locations.

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