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.