Friday, April 23, 2010

Best Choice for Emerging Scholars

Personally, I would recommend having them read Black and White. This book contains many issues that are still dealt with throughout the country and might give them a better understanding of some of these issues. Issues with race and prejudice are still faced in schools and this book would be a fairly decent representation of a real life situation other than the fact that the ending may disappoint. The students could also discuss their feelings towards the book as a way to voice their opinions as well. This could lead into a constructive discussion on negative stereotypes and how they make students feel. There are many issues dealt with in this book that are represented fairly and unfairly, which makes it a great catalyst for conversation.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Disney's Mulan

I don't agree with the statement that Disney's Mulan has been "over" westernized. The story has been westernized, no doubt, but not to the point where it takes away from the story and Chinese culture that is involved. I feel like even though the Disney version has been altered, it still contains many aspects of Chinese culture as well as original details from the Chinese story of Mulan, which make a great movie for Disney's audience. Without the story being westernized, Disney's audience might not be as accepting. It is hard for a younger audience to fully grasp the concept of different cultures, which is why it is essential that Mulan be westernized to accommodate Disney's audience. Westernization may take some of the rich, cultural aspects away from the original story, but it still leaves younger audience's with enough diversity to spark an interest in different things. I don't think the Disney audience would be able to relate to someone like Ailin, who is more representative of true Chinese culture because the typical Disney audience wouldn't quite understand some of her cultural beliefs and practices, which would push them away from being accepting towards a character such as this. Ailin is a great character, who is quite representative of a rebellion against previous Chinese culture, and would be more widely accepted by an older audience who has the insight and understanding of different cultures.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Black and White

The main issues with this story are associated with socioeconomic status and race, which are realistic issues that alter the outcomes of similar decisions in real life. This book does a good job of portraying a real life situation that could occur but also lays out some stereotypes that cannot always be assumed. It is borderline racist to assume that the reason for Marcus's sentence is his skin color and that every minority is judged based on the issue of race. The more realistic issue to look at here is the socioeconomic status between the two boys. Marcus is not as wealthy as Eddie and therefore cannot afford a good lawyer. If Marcus were able to afford a good lawyer, then his case decision would have probably been much more fair. Also, when Marcus was in jail, the inmates were composed primarily of minorities, which may be the case in certain situations but not always. I also feel like the book leads one to believe that minorities are sentenced harshly due to their skin color. I realize this is the case in certain situations, but not always and I think this book tries to make the reader feel bad for minorities by associating with them a negative stereotype. Minorities and caucasians alike all break the law. If a person commits a crime, regardless of their skin color, they should be punished, and in most cases are. Whether or not inmates are mainly minorities is not necessarily due to a racial issue, it just means that minorities have committed more crimes and have been punished for them. This doesn't mean that all minorities that have been charged for crimes are guilty. This goes back to the issue of socioeconomic status. Many people are falsely convicted of crimes that they haven't committed because they couldn't afford a good lawyer. I think this is sad, and is a flaw within our legal system, because money shouldn't be able to buy one man's freedom and then cause another man his. Another issue that comes into play when deciding a case is ethics. A judge will, in some cases, make a decision based on whether or not they think the defendant will be a repeat offender. The court takes the defendant's ethical values into consideration as well when making a decision.

Another issue that is problematic within this book is friendship, and the lack thereof. Marcus takes the fall for Eddie because he is a true friend and truly cares for Eddie. The two boys are best friends, which makes it all the more difficult to understand why Eddie doesn't step forward and take his proper punishment and lets Marcus take the fall for him. It is also hard to judge Eddie's decisions based on reading this book because I haven't been in his shoes, nor faced a similar situation, but given the circumstances I would never let someone else take the fall for something that I was also associated with, especially my best friend. If I were to do that it would bother me everyday for the rest of my life and I couldn't live knowing that I ruined someone else's life by selfishly choosing to save my own. I think doing something like that compromises a persons integrity and doesn't say much for their character. I think in the end Eddie's true character is shown.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fairy Tales

Until now, I have never thought of the morals that are incorporated within fairy tales. I always enjoyed them when I was younger, but would never have thought what they may be teaching. I can't say that I ever read fairy tales as a kid, but I grew up on the Disney movies. My favorite Disney fairy tale would have to be Aladdin. When I was younger, I loved that Aladdin was able to do all of these amazing things like fly around on a magic carpet with his pet monkey while having his own personal genie. This story isn't one of the typical Disney stories you see. In most Disney fairy tales, the tales are solely based on girls or princesses. In Aladdin, however, the main character is a poor male who dreams of a better life. Aladdin comes across many daunting tasks as he tries to win over Princess Jasmine. The moral of this tale seems to be that no matter who you are, or what type of background you have, you can succeed if you believe in yourself. Although not everyone who dreams of succeeding will be granted three wishes by Robin Williams, or be able to fly on a magic carpet, this tale gives hope to those who dream of something more.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Park Article

I can't say that I have read any books by celebrity authors, so I really don't have any personal insight into this subject. The opinion I do have, however, is that celebrity authors are most likely not qualified to write books worthy of reading by children or adults, unless they have had prior training in literature, writing, publishing etc. before they became the famous person we know them as today. Most celebrities are using their fame as a platform to do other things. I can't tell you how many actors/actresses have tried to pursue music careers and have been awful in my opinion. It doesn't matter if they are awful though because if they think they can sing then they will sing while being backed from the various people who are benefitting from their exploits. This is also true with celebrity authors I am sure. If they have the time and money to dawdle in writing literature then they will just because it is something that interests them at the time. I also agree with Park when she says that celebrity books will push better books off the shelves. Books by celebrities have somewhat of a "priority" over books from other authors. It is sad, but some readers will buy a book by a celebrity just because they know their name even though there are much better books to be bought. This is a way for the bookstores to make more money and it is sad but that is what the world we live in revolves around, making money. Not only are the bookstores benefitting from books by celebrity authors, but the publishing companies as well. They don't care that these books are not fit for reading because they know they will make money off of the author's name. And let's not forget about the celebrities themselves. Their pockets will become more full than they already are, as if they need it. I won't get into how greedy our society is, but its sad. In my opinion, books by celebrity authors take away from the hard work and success of writers who actually know what they are doing. I think it is an insult for celebrities to write books in most cases because it is demeaning towards the true art form of writing. I won't say that all celebrities are bad authors, but I haven't heard of or came across a book by a celebrity that was worth reading.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Beach Articles

After reading the Beach articles, the concerns I've had with teaching multicultural literature in classrooms have been confirmed. Although teaching multicultural literature is a great stepping stone for students to understand things about different cultures, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds, it doesn't justify the true history behind the lives of the characters in the books. When reading Esperanza Rising, a student who has not been brought up to understand Mexican culture will not be able to grasp some of the concepts within the book. It is possible for them to pick up a little Mexican history from this story, but they will not fully understand where these characters are coming from unless either they or their families have went through something that these characters have gone through. In Copper Sun, there are things that a student would not understand about African culture unless they have African heritage or they have been taught about African culture. Even so, it is impossible to fully grasp what these characters in these stories have been through unless you have been in their position no matter if you are taught about the history or not. However, I still think it is a great idea to incorporate multicultural literature in the classroom because it does give a student a little insight into the lives of ethnically diverse characters nonetheless.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Research Paper Proposal

For my research paper I would like to discuss how certain authors incorporate underlying meanings of good morals and success in their stories. I think it is extremely important to motivate students, and with the right type of literature this could be a great way to incorporate a form of character education in the classroom. Stories like these could be used to spark critical thinking and reflection on certain behaviors and character ethics, which can teach students constructive ways in which to go about their educational careers as well as life. With the moral decline and drop out rate in our public schools, motivational as well as ethical approaches to learning could be an important aspect in teaching todays students however, not every method of incorporating things such as these are beneficial and appropriate. I may touch on some of these teaching strategies in my paper but I want to base the majority on literature that can be used and the philosophies they convey. I will probably use a couple of the books that I read for the literary circle this past week which are, Oh! The Places You'll Go, by Dr. Seuss, and How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird, by Jaques Prevert. And I tried to italicize the titles of the books but for some reason the system would not let me, oh well. I will find some others that portray the same message as well, I just haven't gotten that far in the process.