Sunday, December 8, 2013

Event Two: Open House at RIC

The second event I attended this semester was the 2013 open house at Rhode Island College. This is where potential students and their families tour the campus’s facilities and inquire about different majors. I, as well as my other classmates, was asked to attend the event and share information about the Youth Development major. This (I believe) was the first time that the Youth Development major was able to join in on an open house, making it very exciting. Because we are a new major to RIC, this was a great opportunity for us to explain what YDEV is and why it is so important.

Unfortunately, by the time I and a few others got to the open house, the bulk of the students and families had already left. There were still a few people lingering, however, they seemed to be interested in other academic areas. This made it difficult to highlight our program to others. For next year, I think that each youth development student should arrive at the beginning of the open house. This way, they will be able to reach out to more people and share their individual experiences in relation to YDEV. Additionally, we should do more in terms of advertising and marketing in order to really spread the word that Youth Development is here and it is here to stay! Though our program is new to RIC, I believe that it can thrive with the proper supports and advertising. This is just the beginning for us, and I know that we will be moving on to bigger and better things! 

Kohn's Findings on Class and Childrearing

After reading the article Class and Childrearing by Kohn, I was left with several mixed messages and understandings of the text. The majority of the article discusses differences between middle-class and lower income/ working class parents in their parenting methods. The main purpose of the research was to find a relationship between class and self-direction within family dynamics. The impact on leisure time and verbal interactions between parents and children were also looked at. Though I do agree with some of the research presented, I can’t help but to feel that not all of the research is valid. This is due to the part in the text that reads, “even if the case does provide insight into broader behavioral patterns, it does not confirm that the parental behaviors exhibited by middle-class parents are, in fact, motivated by a valuation of self-direction in their children.  Indeed, the observed behaviors may derive from entirely different values and attitudes”.  In my opinion, it is difficult to have a clear cut answer when the individuals that were studied are just a select few among an entire nation. Every person, family, etc has a different way in which they choose to raise their children. Personalities, outside forces, and many other characteristics can contribute to the way a child grows up, and I think it is important that we do not push these features to the side.

However, on the subject of choice and leisure activities, interesting points were made. The article states that “the more options they will be able to see for themselves, the more they get a sense of improved self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence. I think that will carry them through adulthood.” This was in regards to the importance of both choice and exposure in a child’s life. The more they are exposed to, the easier it will be for them to evaluate their choices—whether good or bad. The use of activities in fostering growth in an individual is also an important concept to consider. Sports and different leisurely activities are important in helping youth grow cognitively, emotionally, and socially. They are able to develop lifelong skills and lessons that will help them throughout their life.

Lastly, I enjoyed when the article stated that the children were being taught to justify their choices by providing convincing reasons while at the same time being exposed to another’s perspective via the reasons offered for the alternative”. I think that this is a great way for children to learn what they do or do not like and why. Additionally, children are able to learn how to express themselves and give reasons for why they feel the way they do about specific topics. This makes me think about Youth in Action and how the youth are expected to justify their opinions. This approach is fundamental in the learning process and paves the way towards understanding and identification. 

Event One: Youth Development in Israel
Extended Comments

One of the events I attended this semester included a presentation on Youth Development at Rhode Island College. The speaker was a youth development worker from Israel named Osnat Nisanov. She discussed Youth Development in Israel and the differences between their college program and the programs at RIC. I really enjoyed how she incorporated and infused these two very different systems of education. In the U.S., students go to school from K-12th grade. Most likely, after this they will attend college and take classes in the field in which they wish to work in. After graduation, hopefully they will find opportunities in which can help jumpstart their career. In Israel however, the roles are reversed. After graduating high school, students immediately go into the army for a few years.  Just like Mairim discussed in her blog, I also found this to be shocking. It is an extreme difference between cultures and a lot to process.  Furthermore, Osnat also talked about how important it was for the students to go into the army before school; they expected the students to gain some sort of life experience before entering college. Their idea regarding life experience is also translated in their college programs. Students are first expected to have a job or an internship placement in a degree they show interest in. It does not correlate to how college is in the states where finding a job comes at the end of completing your classes.  I thought this was interesting since not all students know what they want to do for the rest of their life when first entering college. I think that Israel’s approach really gives their students an advanced way to process whether or not they want to be in the field they have chosen. 

Though Israels tactics are different, I can’t help but to support some of their ideas. I do think that it is important that students gain maturity and life experience before going to college. However, I think that they can gain these experiences in different contexts other than joining the army. For example, though students in the U.S. do not have to join the army following high school, they still bring life and (sometimes) work experience with them to college. Additionally, depending on the program, students are required to complete fieldwork hours in their desired major. I believe that this helps students gain life and work experience that could help them in their careers.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Looking at Educational Care


The article Uncovering, and managing unconscious ways of ‘looking’  by Corinne McKamey was a very interesting read. The article discusses the author’s research on educational care and how she rethought her assumptions on the subject.  Assumptions, in which, came from a white, middle class background.  Additionally, the article discusses how our social identities play a role in how we all see care differently.  

Upon reading this article, it made me think about culture and the large role it plays in our lives.  Not only does culture provide us with written and unwritten rules, or norms, for interacting with those around us, but it also shapes our perception.  Two individuals may experience the same event in their lives, but interpret it very differently from one another. Living in a specific environment and having certain privileges can shape our attitudes and beliefs on life. This makes it difficult for us to relate to others outside of our environment that we find to be the “norm”. This is a main reason as to why it is difficult to see what others interpret as ‘caring for them ; different environments/cultures foster different opinions/assumptions. This is why I feel that it is important to educate ourselves in these differences. Without acknowledging the fact that everyone sees the world differently, we will be unable to reach out to the youth in ways that they need. In order to provide quality learning, it is vital that we first establish better relationships with our students. Additionally, it is important that we realize that diversity matters. Point blank. Period.

Building relationships with youth will help create a bond that will create meaning in their life. Teachers that take the time to get to know their students and relate to them on deeper levels are the one’s to create the most positive change in that individual’s life. My favorite teacher had this same approach. Not only would she show an interest in how I was doing in school, but was also concerned about my life outside of school. Whenever I needed someone to talk to, she would always be there for me no matter what. I know that without her, I wouldn’t have had as great of an experience as I did in school. If more teachers had this mindset, I think that youth would feel accepted and understood which in turn would aid in the quality of their learning.

Another note to consider is how important the structure of an environment is.  Certain environments can influence our mood, effectiveness, and ability to form relationships. It is important as youth workers that we do our best in creating environments that are supportive, safe, caring, positive, and comfortable.  Setting up these environments/classrooms in this way can make an individual really feel cared for and promote some of their best learning.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Identity In Context


Upon reading the chapter Identity in Context by Nakkula, we were asked to answer a few questions regarding the text for this week. Listed below are the questions accompanied by the answers.

What is context mapping? Context mapping is a diagram used to show our different identities within our environment(s). It shines light onto whom and what we are. Additionally, it tells us what environments we are immersed in and things we are involved in.

What did Mitch ask Julian to do? In the chapter Mitch first asks Julian to list, then write down the spaces and relationships he navigates each day. Furthermore, he asks him to write down what each of those spaces and people expect of him. Lastly, Mitch asks him to pay attention to how he feels in those spaces.

What are the four identities described in the chapterForeclosed Identity, Moratorium, Diffuse Identity, and Achieved Identity.

Foreclosed Identity: One in which an individual has committed to a life direction, or way of being, without exploring it carefully and without experimenting with alternatives.

Moratorium: When one actively explores roles and beliefs, behaviors and relationships, but refrains from making a commitment.

Diffuse Identity: State in which there has been little exploration or active consideration of a particular identity and no psychological commitment to one.

Achieved Identity: Occurs when the identity crisis is resolved and the commitment to the selected identity is high. Other identities are no longer explored. 

In my opinion, we have situations in our lives that force us to undergo several of the identity types. However, in regards to my major and life goals, I feel as if I am between both Moratorium and Achieved Identity. I know that I want to work with children and help them with their development, however, there are certain aspects that I am unsure of. This coincides with the fact that I am unsure of where I want to be location wise when I begin my youth work. I don't know where I'll be or what I will be doing years from now, however, I am always open to exploring new avenues and learning from others.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Talking It Out, Peacefully


     In today’s society, youth are rarely seen as the forefront of positive change. And how could they be? So many negative stereotypes and prejudice attitudes circle around them, making it impossible for people to see what they’re truly capable of. This makes me upset knowing that their ideas, opinions, and most importantly, their voices, are being silenced. A connection between youth, adults, and community are essential in trying to create positive social change, and it’s about time people realize this.

     A great example of how youth use their voices to help others stems from a restorative justice program in a Chicago High School. This school once made headlines after an honor student was beat to death on his way home by gang members. Now, the school has been looked at once again, this time in a much more positive light. They have come up with a program that allows youth to discuss their issues in a peaceful way in a “peace room”. It is comprised of a peer jury, peace circles, and supportive listening. Students can talk about problems they are having (in school, at home, etc) and find ways in which they could solve these problems in a constructive way. Also, it is a place where youth can feel comfortable in and be heard by others.

     I think that this is a great outlet for the students in this zero tolerance school. This “room” makes me think about the Youth Development Ideologies that were discussed in class. This idea connects with positive youth development and how important it is to create environments that provide positive external assets (school climate, empowerment, etc)  to foster positive internal assets (positive attitudes, commitment to learning, etc). Additionally, this restorative justice program brings to mind the article written by Adeola Oredola called In a World Where Youth Hold the Power. Her main idea from the article corresponds with the idea that young people have the ability to make positive changes in their communities. With “talking peacefully”, they are able to do just that.  Not only are they helping to build their communities, but they are also building trust between one another—a relationship that helps both parties.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A World Where Youth Hold the Power: Argument

     The Youth in Action documentary along with the article written by Adeola Oredola called In a World Where Youth Hold the Power both contain similar themes. Their main argument corresponds with the idea that young people have the ability to make positive changes in their communities. They can become influential leaders with the proper supports. However, sometimes they are overlooked by adults and are stereotyped as unknowledgeable due to their age. This stigma makes it impossible for people to see the abilities and strengths that youth possess. If given the opportunity, you will be amazed to find out how much of a difference youth can really make.

     Both the video and article bring a refreshing perspective into our future. I think it’s important that we utilize our youth in ways that will help to strengthen the community. When you think about it, the youth are our future. We should consider them an asset in creating change, rather than push them aside until society thinks they are “old enough” to participate. These social constructions only divide us as a nation, when partnerships like YIA work to bring us together.

     I hope to see more organizations like YIA in our future. Though schools do their best in trying to mold students to become well-rounded individuals and productive members of society, I believe that there are better ways that schools can try to reach this goal. They should utilize some of the techniques that YIA uses such as more leadership opportunities. What better way to learn how to become a productive member of society than actually being one.

Adeola Oredola:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Youth Development Ideology: What's Your Sign? (Reflection)

Last week, we were given the option to talk about which approach to Youth Development we identify with most. Upon completing a youth development “quiz”, I most identified with Positive Youth Development. Included in the choices were Critical Youth Development and Risk, Resiliency, and Prevention. In the Positive Youth Development model, their focus relies on fostering strengths and positive growth. Positive experiences, relationships, and environments are crucial in the cultivation of positive youth development. These three factors make the perfect formula in working towards positive change. I can only hope that one day I will be able to work in an organization that fosters these same ideas. I stand by the belief that learning best takes place when youth are motivated to actively engage in experiences that allow them to create their own knowledge and understanding of the world in which they live. Additionally, I believe that youth should work towards a positive identity in order to help support them in both academic and social success for the future.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Why do we blog?
Blogging is a way to connect to those we know as well as to those that we do not. It is a way for us to express ourselves and our opinions. Also, we can learn a lot through blogging in a way that is familiar to us in this day and age. We can learn from others as well as from ourselves. Why should we encourage youth to blog?
We should encourage youth to blog in order to get them comfortable with technology. It is a way that they can express themselves if they are shy and uncomfortable speaking in front of others. Also, it can be used as a learning tool in order to expand their ideas and knowledge base. Beyond that, it is a way for youth to market themselves to outside audiences. This can be helpful when looking for a future career.

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Reflection

Marc Prensky, author of the article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants argues issues facing our current education system. He believes that students have changed drastically over the years. So much in fact, that he thinks that our brain structures differ from those of previous generations. He calls the “new” students of today Digital Natives while those not born into the digital world are called Digital Immigrants. He discusses the impact of technology on today’s generation and ways to reach them in the classroom. He talks about how the gap between Digital Natives and Immigrants is the reason for the decline of the U.S. education. This is because, according to Prensky, our current educational system has “not been designed to serve today’s students”. The instructors today fall under the Digital Immigrants category as they speak an “outdated language” to us Natives. He discusses different ways to effectively teach this new generation of students from using “edutainment” (combo of education and entertainment) such as computer games to speeding up instruction and using graphics to engage students. He argues that if educators really want to reach out to their students, then they will have to change their out-of-date teaching styles in order to be effective. I agree with this wholeheartedly. It is important that we adapt to our constantly changing environments and teach lessons concerning the past, present, and future. Our best learning is accomplished when the material is fun, relevant, and relate-able. Technology is constantly changing, and it’s time we change with it!

Prensky's article

Child Labor and the Social Construction of Childhood Reflection

After reading the article Child Labor and the Social Construction of Childhood by Gwen Sharp, I couldn’t help but to think about the differences between children of the 1900s to children from today. Back in the day, child labor was common; children were placed in abrasive working conditions and expected to make money in order to help their families make ends meet. Going to work was a priority while going to school came second. As an American born in the 20th century, I can’t help but to feel a bit disturbed by this concept. Though I understand that life was very different in the 1900s compared to today, I feel that children should be able to experience a time in their lives free from the burdens that they will eventually have to go through once they grow and mature. However, this doesn’t mean that I think that children shouldn’t have any sort of responsibilities or obligations. I just believe that it should come in a milder form compared to working in mines and factories.

Additionally, I feel that it’s important to note that children are different from adults in many ways- cognitively, socially, emotionally, and physically. For them to be expected to do some of the same work as adults is a bit ridiculous. Furthermore, it’s crazy to think how different my life could have been if I was born in a different generation. If born in the early 1900s, I probably would have been doing the same type of work as the children in the article. Instead, my childhood was quite different. My main priority was attending school and getting good grades. I was lucky enough to not have to worry about helping my family financially as my parents worked very hard to make sure that my brother and I had everything that we needed. This makes me grateful for the childhood that I did have and so happy to be a 90’s kid.

Sharp's article

About Me

My name is Nina Silva and I am a twenty-two year old student at Rhode Island College. I am currently in my fifth year at RIC in hopes to pursue a degree in Youth Development, with a minor in Psychology. I’ve always loved working with children and thought that this major would give me a great opportunity to reach out to them, in a way that was different from teaching. I hope to positively influence the lives of children and help them to reach their maximum potential. Some experiences that I’ve had with youth include being a childcare counselor, teacher’s assistant, and a babysitter. I hope to learn more about the needs of youth and to use my knowledge to motivate and inspire.