Nov 17th- A Handful of Thoughts

Here's my brother's hand and I filled it with sticky notes with several thoughts written on them.

Here’s a photo of a hand full of thoughts. I picked colourful sticky notes and wrote some of my thoughts on them–which were all mentioned on my blog. I also asked my brother (who was drawing at the moment; that’s why he has stained fingers) if I could use his hands to carry my “thoughts” for two reasons: 1st because I somehow mentioned him on my blog and 2nd because I specifically shared some of my thoughts with him and asked his reflection.

This week’s blog doesn’t have a specific prompt but I would like to post one—not because we promised Audrey to post something in exchange of the “free time” we had for our seminar but because I would like to reflect about several things in my learning for the past few weeks.

I wanted to start this blog with honesty that I haven’t posted anything to my blog and Twitter accounts for three consistent weeks now. A factor is the recent holiday, Remembrance Day—which gave us a Tuesday off last week instead of having a class. Class time usually provide me some space to gather and question new thoughts and consider my classmate’s perception about our lesson. However, majority of the factors can be placed on my busy schedule box. Some may say that I am just making excuses because one can definitely sneak some time and post some tweets or blogs. On the other hand, I know that I am not the only one bombarded with workloads and due dates for the next remaining weeks of this semester. With all these in mind, I want to use this space in my blog to share the thoughts that I’ve gathered for the past few weeks.

On our class’ week 10—November 4th—Audrey decoded the word literacy and the evolution of its uses. We started by questioning our own literacy:

“In what ways are you literate?

What kinds of literacy do you know of?

How do you know that you are literate?

Are you illiterate in some contexts?”

I can consider myself as a literate individual by being able to read, write, and conceptualize certain—but surely limited—subject-matters in my life. I have partial knowledge with languages, social studies, religious studies, social justices, and many more. However, I want to emphasize the notion of partial knowledge here. After class, I had the chance to have a little “me time” and I stumbled to my own realization that after thousands of hours that I spent in school and life experiences, I cannot find any field where I am fully literate. This means that although I can say that I can quite function with the knowledge I have, I am not confident to label myself as a fully literate individual in any aspect of my life—and perhaps, will never be, because even “true” literacy doesn’t really exist.

From this notion, it is amazing how the simple definition of literacy—as being able to read and write—has evolved into several fields of literacies: scientific, technological, computer, financial, social, emotional, physical, health, visual, media, and  many more. By identifying these literacies, I somehow made a theory, that like curriculum, literacies are everywhere too. Also, I agree that literacies are complicated continuum because they continuously evolve which makes the previous “strong” as “weak” as we find new ways that we consider as current “strong”.

In Chapter 7, Kumashiro presented an interdisciplinary proposal of using the variety of literacies to address the inequalities around us. I think that this complicate the concept of basic literacy because we don’t just teach our students how to read and write but also incorporate several literacies to learn pieces of everything—a piece of technology, finance, health, etc. Nonetheless, I think that although it is complicated, it will be beneficial for us and our students because we will be both exposed to more kinds of literacy. By being exposed to these literacies, we will be able to adjust how to properly perceive different factors around us including the social injustices that are socially concealed in our milieu.

For me, I think that I can include a variety of literacies in my teaching by incorporating their representations in my class. I wanted my class to be filled with different teaching styles. I will use visuals—slides and videos—and different activities that cover multiple intelligences. I think that it is easy to include technological literacy in my classroom because it already plays a major part of the students nowadays and it has been included in several classrooms—i.e. smartboards, computers, projectors, etc. However, I know that I cannot accommodate other literacies that I have not enough knowledge of like musical and financial literacies; these are the literacies that I know will be continuously be silent in my teaching. Although I would like to include them in my teaching, I’m afraid that I don’t have enough knowledge about them to the extent that I am not confident to even teach them. Nonetheless, I will try my best to include them in ways like relating and interpreting music to the subjects that I will teach.

Another thought that came to me these past few weeks was the Remembrance Day that happened on November 11th. I am usually awake before the ceremony starts and even though I do not attend any specialized ceremonies during Remembrance Day, I open our radio to wait for the time and reflect deeply. However, I slept in this Remembrance Day and missed my partial participation. This made me reflect on how much I give importance to this holiday. In my Canadian Studies class on high school, I learned the sacrifices that our soldiers made to bring back the peace in our world and I am really grateful for their bravery so I wanted to take that 15 minute of reflection as an offering of gratitude. Missing my partial participation on Remembrance Day does not mean that I cannot find another time to reflect but I can see the cultural border that disconnects me to this holiday. Maybe I do not feel deeply connected to make the effort of attending an official ceremony for our veterans. On the other hand, am I the only who does not participate? Does all of my colleagues participate in this event or do they consider it as another no school day to celebrate? I really cannot answer these questions but I’m quite interested on how other Canadians, especially those of my age, give importance to Remembrance Day.

Lastly, my final thought was about the gendered violence that hides within our society. This thought came to me as my group met on Monday, November 19th to discuss about the progress of our interdisciplinary assignment. Audrey was away but I’m glad that we made our class time meaningful with this group meeting. We even passed our class time but I think it was worth it because I felt like we had some meaningful discussions as we try to decode the violence that are embedded in different forms in our society. We discussed how violence is exposed in sports like hockey as well as the violence in video games nowadays. It’s scary how the violence from Super Mario—stepping on mushrooms—evolved into more brutal and graphic violence that are portrayed in recent video games—wherein the player can literally pick up a prostitute and rape her. From this discussion, I tried to personally connect to the topic and started reflecting how I am exposed to violence. Unlike some individuals from my generation, I do not find myself interested in video games like Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty. However, I remember that when I was younger I used to play Counter Strike with my dad. I can remember how I felt like I’m too emotionally connected to the game and I hate it whenever my character struggles in the training ground or die in some levels of the game so I refused to play similar games. Nonetheless, I remember playing other video games like Gran Turismo and Asphalt—they are both racing games. Although I do not play these games as much as I did before, I still know the paradoxical message they portray. In reality, we are taught to follow laws and be “good” citizens; at the same time, we are living in a consumerist society wherein we are encouraged to buy these games that provides a minimally counter-intuitive world for us—a space where norms are breaking the law and outsmarting the police. On the other hand, I do not think that by playing these games I am practicing to be more violent in reality. Nevertheless, I know that each individual perceive information differently and I am interested on the variety of effects that these games offer to other individuals.

To continue with interpreting violence within games, I also tried to reflect how my younger brother—who is currently six years old—is also exposed to this although not directly the same kind of violence. He has been loyal in collecting characters from a PS3 video game series called Skylanders. He started collecting them from Episode 1–Spyro’s Adventure—and eventually collected the following series: Giants, Swap Force, and Trap Team. Each series has several adventures wherein the goal was to defeat the evil by using different Skylander characters that has their own abilities and powers.  Obviously, the characters are dominated by males although there are minimal representatives of female characters. Although it may not be an issue to many, I started recognizing that there is still a constant underrepresentation of female population—even in games—despite of the changes from what we call gender “equality”. Nonetheless, I would like to focus more on the violence within this game which was supposed to be made for kids. Both genders within the games portray general violence—possessing elemental powers and modified weapons—to defeat the evil within the land. By considering this game as an acceptable piece for a six year old, I can see how desensitized our society has become. I can remember that when I was his age, I just played marbles with my cousins. In addition, I wanted to share how he asked my sister and I to buy him a bow and arrow toy while we were in a dollar store earlier. He’s been saying “I can’t wait to practice my shooting skills” while we were driving home and was eager to unwrap his toy set as soon as we got home. I asked him where did he gain interest in bow and arrow and he replied “You know, from Merinda, the girl from Brave”. He said he admired how brave she was and once again mentioned how he wanted to practice his shooting skills which starts to bother me. I asked him why he wanted to practice his shooting skills and what kind of target is he aiming for. He replied with “practicing my shooting skills is like practicing for focus and not really for human target because hurting humans is bad; I’ll target a circle or the ground but I won’t target people because I don’t want to hurt anyone. If we have a circle target then I’ll try to focus hitting the middle of the circle and avoid the distractions beside it”. I was partially amazed with his answer because I know that he was the kind of child who always cared for the safety of the people around him. Nonetheless, it’s just amazing to witness the evolution of toys that were endorsed to kids. Of course, I cannot undo this fact about our society and I believe that it’s important for us, as adults, to debrief and explain the purpose and value of the toys that we buy for kids. Hence, I wonder what kind of effects this may bring to the young generations of our society?

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