Hackschooling

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I found this Ted Talk on Youtube by Logan LaPlante and loved it! He has a innovative vision of education as something that should be driven by student interests and connected to life outside of school. Students should be interesting in what they are learning so they can ultimately be interested in the job they end up having as an adult, and be something that so many forget the importance of: HAPPY

I think this blog has been a great way to integrate our own interests into what we are learning, and develop skills that we can clearing connect to life outside of school. This is much more helpful then just being given a book I may or may not enjoy and writing a paper on in that I may or not be passionate about. Students have a lot more motivation when they are excited about what they are learning.

Success=Change

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Sociology studies social behavior, how it changes, its origins, and its affects. However it is important not just to study this behavior, but to use the information to strive to create social change. Writer/Designer says that all multimodal texts have a purpose, and if successful, they will create change in some way; and that’s the goal isn’t it? To create change! But in order to be successful you need to know how to analyze the rhetorical situation so that your desired audience understands your message and can be swayed towards your point of view.

Dead Man Walking

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photoLast Wednesday I went to see “Dead Man Walking”, it was the first time I had ever seen a performance like this. It was amazing as an audience member, how much was left up to my imagination and yet how easy it was to follow such a simple performance.

It was awesome how all the actors did to change characters was a simple change in accessories. One of the performers changed back and forth from a tie, while playing the warden, to a vest, while playing a lawyer. Even though this was about the most elaborate costume change anyone did, it was easy to tell the character apart because of how they spoke, gestured, and behaved.

There was also no set, only chairs set on stage that were moved around in order to convey scene changes. I loved watching a performance that left a great deal up to my imagination! It was almost like reading a book, getting a basic description of each character and scene, but getting left to make the rest up by myself.

“Hen”

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Sweden is taking progressive steps towards deconstructing gender in their country. “Hen” is a gender neutral pronoun that has been introduced in Sweden attempting to not only promote gender equality but gender neutrality. While we continue to move toward gender and sex equality in the U.S. we are far from gender neutrality.

Almost everything is gendered in the U.S: toys, clothes, jobs, names, colors, etc.

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The dualism of gender roles has been so deeply engrained that it has become abnormal for a boy to wear pink or a girl to play with truck. This not only separates boys and girls in the way they should think and behave in order to properly play their gender, it limits the ender identities children feel free to pick from into two distinct categories, leaving little room for those who feel comfortable in neither.

Our language makes it almost impossible for people to address one another without making assumptions about gender identity. “Hen” takes the complication out gender neutral language.

Gender!

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Gender is something that we don’t often think about, unless we have been made aware of how often it comes up and how rarely it is used correctly. Before starting my sociology major I had never thought about the difference between “gender” and “sex”, and like most, used them interchangeably. However in doing this we loose important differences between biology and cultural norms.

  • Sex reverse to the sexual organs an individual has
  • Gender refers to where a person falls within the “cultural norms of masculinity and femininity” (Kaminer 139)

To put this more simply:

  • Sex = Male/Female
  • Gender = Boy/Girl

This is a very simplistic and dualistic image of sex and gender, in fact there are many more identities in each of these categories that people identify with, and yet are never talked about. Gender is a confusing topic and often goes unaddressed. "That awkward moment when your mind is so deconstructed you don't even know what gender is anymore."

Reading the article “Let’s Talk About Gender, Baby” made me consider how much gender and sex are confused on a regular basis. While attempting to stop gender discrimination in our country we have confused these terms even in law.

The United States has laws against gender discrimination however what these laws are actually referring to is sex discrimination. I thought Wendy Kaminer’s article explained it perfectly:

 

A sign that says “No men need apply” constitutes sex discrimination. Gender discrimination is a sign that says “No men in skirts need apply”

While it is good that we are attempting to stop discrimination against sex or gender, it is important for people to begin to separate the two and understand that ones genitalia have little or nothing to do with the way they behave.

"There is no female mind. The brain is not an organ of sex. Might as well speak of a female liver." - Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Language of Sociology

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Reading through the extended table of contents of Language: A Reader for Writers by Gita DasBender I found many articles related to my major of Sociology at Fort Lewis College. I narrowed down the many interesting articles to 8 that I found to be the most interesting. Here they are!

  • “The Soccer Mom” by Jason Davis. When someone says “Soccer Mom”, you get an image of what that is in your mind. For most, this image is of a stay-at-home, middle/upper class, white woman with children and an SUV. Its interesting to think about the assumptions we make about the words people use.
  • “Hey Dude” by Robert Lane Greene. I briefly skimmed over this article and it made me want to read more because it talks about how the word dude has crossed over the “gender divide”.
  • “Let’s Talk About Gender, Baby” by Wendy Kaminer. Since I took a Sociology of Gender and Sexuality class, the difference between “sex” and “gender” and the expectations and gender roles that come with a persons assigned gender have interested me. Especially working with children, I see a lot of gender being “placed” on children, rather then letting them grow into a gender identity they feel comfortable with.
  • “Why Being a Jerk at Work Pays” by Amy Reiter sounds like an interesting section because I believe that there is a large difference in how people react to the same behavior coming from a man or a woman.
  • “Sweden’s New Gender-Neutral Pronoun: “Hen” by Nathalie Rothschild. I am very excited to read this section because finding gender-neutral pronouns in English can be extremely difficult and confusing. It is very hard to use pronouns without resorting to “his” and “hers”.
  • “How Does Our Language Shape the Way We Think?” by Lera Boroditsky, sounds like an interesting chapter because I think that language shapes the way that we see the world. For instance, since in English it is difficult to exclusively use gender-neutral pronouns, it creates a ridged binary between male and female, boy and girl.
  • “Language and Thought” by Susanne Langer. The quote under this article in the extended contents page caught my eye right away, “Languages are not invented; they grow with our need for expression.” I find this quote to be so inspiring because this means that if our society can grow to be less bias and less judgmental of people that fall outside the “norm”, then our language can grow with it, bringing new vocabulary with it.
  • “Alien Languages: Not Human” by Anassa Rhenisch caught my eye because the idea that cultures develop language based on their communication needs is extraordinarily interesting. This accounts for the large differences in how the same idea can be expressed in different ways when delivered in a different language.

Defining Inquiry.

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While I had a idea of what inquiry meant prior to class on Monday, when asked to define it, without the use of a dictionary or the internet, I never thought we would be able to come up with a solid and accurate definition. I was wrong! As Bill pointed out, there were over 300 years of education in the room and with our combined brain power, coming up with a working definition was not as hard as I thought…

Inquiry: The process of obtaining knowledge though a question(s) and/or observation(s) that is relevant to the discourse.

After class I looked up “inquiry” to see the dictionary definition. Google says that “inquiry” is:

an act of asking for information

I am so Bill wouldn’t let us look it up in class because in my opinion, what we came up with was MUCH better!

While I think what we came up with was superior to the google definition, there were some things that were discussed in class but ultimately left out of our definition. I think this had to do with the unspoken classes assumption that we were to come up with a “dictionary definition”, which limited us to one sentence. More words does not necessarily mean a loss in clarity and I think that if we hadn’t limited our selves to a single sentence we could have improved our definition.

Some of the things left out were:

  • “filling in the holes” or filling in a gap of knowledge
  • the importance of word choice
  • considering your audience

Overall, I am so proud of my class for working together, pushing each other, and coming up with such an amazing definition. And luckily we can always go back and amend our definition to cover what we missed!

A Multimodal Campus

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Finding multimodal projects around campus wasn’t hard; they’re everywhere! My senior seminar class just finished the billboards in the sociology hallway and each one uses a mix of communication methods:

  • Visual
  • Linguistic
  • Spacial

Our goal was not just to put new information up, but to share the information in an interesting way that would grab students attention as then walk through the hall. Here are some of the boards the class made:

"Gangeland" Poster

“Gangeland” Poster

Senior Seminar

Senior Seminar

Sociology Block Program

Sociology Block Program

The School to Prison Pipeline

The School to Prison Pipeline

All of these texts use visual and spacial design in order to draw the desired audience in, students walking through the sociology hallway, and then use linguistics to give more information. I think our class did a fantastic job of making the displays visually appealing while sharing information at the same time.

Collaboration

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Having a discussion with my group about the readings was fabulously helpful. Discussing each section of the article and getting to hear everyones individual thoughts really helped me critically think about what I had read and connect it to real life examples, overall increasing my learning. We discussed the importance of word choice, how to get your desired audience’s attention, and how to keep them engaged.

One of the things that stuck out to me in our discussion was how much pictures and videos are used to attract attention from a desired audience. An image can grab a persons attention by standing out and make them want to look further into the accompanying text. An image is often the part that draws you in to reading the heading of an article, and if the picture is coupled with an interesting title then you are even more continue reading.

Once your audience is interested you have to keep them engaged. We discussed how organization and layout of a text can help to keep your audience reading. Connor McCarron and Chloe Speshock both pointed out that people generally don’t enjoy reading long paragraphs without any breaks. Length chunks of text can be intimidating to your audience and confusing to read through. Without bullet points or paragraphs a reader can walk away missing important points and not understanding the authors full argument.

 

“No Shit Heads”

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“No Shit Heads” is the motto of a advertising agency in Philly where I am from. The majority of the agency is made up of a younger generation who don’t consider this offensive. This is message simply means that the company wants hard working people who aren’t looking for an easy right, that can work as a team and minimize the bullshit. However a straight forward statement like this can be taken offensively to those of an older more conservative generation. This is why audience and word choice are so important. While the same sentiment of this motto could be conveyed in a longer less controversially worded statement, this simple, straightforward sentence is geared towards the younger more liberal audience of current and perspective employees. The problem is that there is not always only a single audience for a piece of text. The agency almost lost a client because the client was upset about the word choice of the company motto. There are current and perspective clients who are a second audience that will read the agency motto, and more conservative people could take offense to it. This is why it is important to carefully select your word choice for your desired audience and consider the different audiences that may view the text as well.