Thursday, December 2, 2010

Muslim Stereotypes

We had a guest speaker, Barbara Petzen, from She spoke about how Islam and Muslims are viewed in America today.

Her first point was that Muslims are often generalized. Maps often depict "The Muslim World" and Muslims as being very similar. But the reality is that there is a wide spectrum of practice and orthodoxy in Islam - just as there is in other religions.

Seventy percent of the coverage of Muslims in America is coverage related to violence. In reality, out of 1.5 billion Muslims, CIA specialists estimate the number of Muslims to involved in terrorism in the thousands.

But these other voices are not heard. Mainstream media prefers to focus on a few extremist voices: Osama Bin Laden and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Iran are the usual suspects.

Often times, Muslims are not shown in the media denouncing the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Yet, there are many examples of this. And here.

Often times, the government in power is shown as representing all people of a given country or even all Muslims. For example, Ahmadinejad's administration is shown as the voice of all of the people. That would be like assuming all Americans agree with Barack Obama or George Bush and their policies.

Another aspect of Islam that the American media tends to ignore is the diversity within the Muslim communities.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Habitat For Humanity Dec 4

Apologies to everyone who is hoping to do this opportunity. It has changed yet again! The weather is forecast to be too cold to do the necessary work. So this is on hold. But, there is another opportunity at a habitat site! This is a different Habitat group that we haven't worked with, but they have a close relationship with our habitat group so they let us know that there is a need here.
Here is their email:
Habitat for Humanity of Northern Fox Valley
We need your help!

December is a busy time for us here at Habitat and we need your help! We are seeking volunteers for the Chicago Street site in Elgin. We need both skilled and beginner volunteers. So please don't feel shy if you have never picked up a hammer; there is always somewhere for people to help!

The dates that we need help are: 12/1, 12/4, 12/18, 12/22. (8:30am-4pm)

If you are interested please go to, click on "volunteering", scroll down and look for the VolunteerUP icon and click on it. Once you are logged into VolunteerUP look for the dates that say "SignUp". Go ahead and sign yourself up for a construction volunteer shift.

We hope to see you there!

Thank You,

Madi Franck
Volunteer Coordinator

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Service Op: Habitat For Humanity, Elgin Sat Dec 4.

Habitat just emailed me and said that they need 4 people to do some heavy outside work on Sat Dec 4. They are doing concrete work and other outside stuff. If interested, email me asap so I can reserve your spot.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Creating allies...

Sometimes when I discuss the implications from socialization into gender, there is a feeling among some students like we should be able to live amongst all of these socialization messages and just not let them affect us. Others might say this is simple humor, and what's the big deal? Well, if you think it's not a big deal and that we shouldn't let it affect us then you haven't been paying attention! Or maybe you have forgotten to use your sociological imagination and sociological mindfulness. What we have been learning is that humans ARE affected by their surroundings. We saw this last unit in terms of culture and we see it now in terms of socialization. We are affected by our environment. Our surroundings make us who we are. And so, when you stop and realize who we we are (see all the research in the posts below), you realize this is a huge problem in our culture. And since it is a huge problem, I am asking you to use sociological mindfulness to determine what to do about it. Well, what do you do about it?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another civil rights movement?

Quietly it seems that another civil rights movement has been snow balling. Lately it seems that gay rights activism is everywhere. The twenty year old Don't Ask Don't Tell policy is finally in the spotlight and a federal judge recently ruled it unconstitutional. Vince Vaughn was in a movie trailer from a new movie where he was making fun of a car and he called it "gay." That scene was cut and different dialogue was added in its place. Popular television shows on prime-time network stations have been highlighting same-sex relationships like on Grey's Anatomy, Brothers and Sisters and Modern Family. Closer to home, our school had rally of sorts to promote acceptance and draw attention to the problem of bullying, especially for homophobic reasons. And, Dan Savage launched the it gets better campaign to help combat the rash of suicides by gay teens. Sociologically, it is an important insight that all of this activism is questioning the social construction of gender and our reaction to sex and sexuality. Nearly all professionals and people who study people will tell you that sex and sexuality are determined for each of us. But, gender is a social construction. Think about about you have been shaped to think about gender - what have you learned to consider acceptable and what not? How have you been shaped to think about homosexuality? Even if you personally understand that being gay is not a choice, how difficult is it for you to speak out for gay rights and equality ? Here is another resource for students dealing with issues related to sexuality: The Trevor Project.
And here is Sir Charles Barkley speaking candidly about Jason Collins, the first professional athlete to be openly gay.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Service Op: GIVE weekly events

GIVE offers several weekly and special events. Students may sign up for all events through the UGive website.

Here is a list of some of our weekly events that always have openings and our upcoming special events: (All traveling events meet in parking lot C.)
Weekly events
Friends Place 3:30 - 5:30
Sunrise 3:30 - 5:30
Brentwood 3:30 - 5:30
SHS Friends During 8th period

Special events
10/14 Willow Grove Ice cream social 5:30 - 8:00 Meet in parking lot C
10/16 Haunted Harvest Lambs Farm 5:00 - 10:30 Meet in parking lot C
10/19 Cove Homecoming Decorations Room 1102 3:30 - 5:30
10/22 Cove Homecoming Dance 3:45 - 10:30 meet in parking lot C

Visit the GIVE page under student activities for more detailed descriptions of events.

$200K, overworked and poor?

Here is a report about working professionals who make over $200K a year, but they are increasingly overworked and yet they feel poor. All of these ideas are detailed in the book Elsewhere U.S.A. by New York University sociologist Dalton Conley. To listen to the whole interview, click here.

It's a brave new world. For the first time, it was people with incomes over $200,000, in a New York Times poll, that said that they feel poorer when they're around rich people as compared to people who are actually poor. That's stunning to me. And for the first time in labor history, the further up the income ladder you go, the more hours you work.

RYSSDAL: Give me an example of how the title of your book plays out. It's called "Elsewhere U.S.A." What does that mean in practice?

CONLEY: It means that this class of professionals, what I call "the elsewhere class" is increasingly in more than one place at one time. So if they're at home ostensibly having dinner with the family their minds, or perhaps their thumbs as they click away on the Blackberry under the table, are actually communicating with other folks somewhere else back in the office. They might be more distracted at work because they're also worried about the fact that their kid is home sick, and they have to after this meeting rush right home to relieve the mom or the dad, since there is more shared child care in this regard. And it's constant frenetic pace where we're always on route to elsewhere if not physically then in some communicative way, through telecommunications or travel or what have you.

RYSSDAL: You could of course just not have a Blackberry and not have DSL at home with broadband internet access. And you could just have a regular 9-5 job and come home and cook the dinner and put the kids to bed. Is that viable?

CONLEY: Many people still live that life. Increasingly, the people at the top don't, and I don't really think it's an option for them. Of course, any social ethic or any movement creates its opposite, and we have this slow-foods movement emerging and the simple back to basics living movement. And some people sell the business and move to rural Maine and build their house with their bare hands from scratch. But for most of us, we want the Blackberrys, we like our work, and we want to be connected, but we want to have fulfilling connections and not lose the intimacy that we once had.

RYSSDAL: Dalton Conley is a professor of sociology at New York University. His latest book is called "Elsewhere U.S.A." Dalton thanks a lot.

Do you see these dynamics in your own family? Do you desire a career that makes $200K+ per year even though it might mean working all the time and not spending enough time with family, friends and taking care of your health and happiness? After reading/listening to this, has it made you consider any of your future differently?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Service Op: Lambs Farm

3rd Annual Lambs Farm Popcorn Days
Friday, October 1 and Saturday, October 2

Volunteers and Captains are Needed!

Lambs Farm and The Popcorn Factory have come together to raise needed funds to support Lambs Farm’s various programs and services for adults with developmental disabilities. The 3rd Annual Lambs Farm Popcorn Days will take place on Friday, October 1 and Saturday, October 2 in throughout the Chicagoland area.

Volunteers are needed to help collect donations at various storefronts and intersections. In exchange for donations, volunteers will distribute one-ounce bags of caramel corn from The Popcorn Factory. Please consider helping Lambs Farm by volunteering. Click here to download a volunteer form. If you have questions about volunteering, please contact Barbara S. Rudzin at 847-990-3733 or

Please consider being a Captain for this event. As a Captain, your main responsibility will be to recruit volunteers to collect donations in your community. We have developed a Captain’s training manual and the Lambs Farm staff will be available to assist you throughout the process. To download a Captain’s Manual which explains how you could play an integral part in this exciting event while raising money for Lambs Farm, please click here. Please contact Barbara Rudzin at 847-990-3733 or e-mail with questions.

We hope you will join Lambs Farm on October 1 and 2 and help us make the 3rd Annual Popcorn Days a huge success.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Service Op: Dan Seals Internship

Just got the following in an email. If you are interested in politics this might be a nice opportunity for your service experience:

My name is George Brown and I’m the internship coordinator with the Dan Seals for Congress campaign.  I’m emailing you today because our campaign is going to have an exciting internship program for high school students throughout the fall. I was hoping that you, as a social studies teacher, would be able to pass this information along to interested students or direct me to the proper individuals at Stevenson High School who could. Dan or one of his representatives would be happy to come speak to a group, discuss his positions and answer any questions. It really will be a competitive election this fall, and interns not only play a vital role on our campaign but are also able to learn a great deal about political campaigns and elections.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you have about the internship program or the campaign in general. Thank you for your time and best of luck on a successful school year. --George

George M. Brown
Deputy Field Director

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering 9/11

As we remember September 11th nine years after the horrific events, it is interesting to consider where we are now - nine years later, through the lens of sociology. Over the last few months a ground swelling of hatred has been building against Muslims. This has manifested in an opposition to the Muslim community center near the site of Ground Zero, and it has spread to opposition to Muslims across America and even to a Koran burning in Florida. September 11th, 2001 was a terrible day in American history. Thousands of Americans died and tens of thousands were changed profoundly for the rest of their lives, whether it is ptsd, losing a loved one, or any other huge loss or change in their life.
Many Americans rightly feel anger, fear and outrage over these events. But unfortunately, many Americans have confused their categories and their stereotypes (from Joel Charon. Using Charon's discussion of stereotypes and categories we can see that all of the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks were Muslim, but this was a small handful of individuals. It is hard to come to terms with the idea that a couple dozen individuals could so radically hurt this country so badly. However, that is the reality - it was a small group of individuals who could all be categorized as Muslim. But the opposition of Muslims all across America as well as the Koran-burning would have many Americans believe that the category of terrorists being Muslim applies to all Muslims. Thus, the category becomes the stereotype. This view could not be more stereotypical and more wrong. I have students and friends who are Muslim. They are loving, wonderful people. In fact many Muslims were killed during the 9/11 attacks and Muslims all over the world were saddened for America and they came to our aid. Muslims serve in the United States armed forces - on our front lines! Humans can't help but categorize, but when that category becomes a blind judgment, it becomes a stereotype.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Habitat for Humanity 2010

Here's another great opportunity for a community service experience. There is a new Habitat for Humanity project in Elgin. Last year students went there and had a really good experience. Because of that, they have been willing to permit students from Stevenson to attend their project! Here is their latest call for volunteers:
Brush off your tools belts, lace up your work boots....a new project is underway!

Be the first of your friends to sign up for this exciting experience. Be a part of history in the re-making!

Holy Family, as a partner in the Spring of Life Habitat for Humanity will begin it's 3rd project on September 11th. This undertaking is the renovation of a small historic home in Elgin. Given to Habitat for a song, but requiring some historical preservation, work on this renovation will be a step back in time, just like "This Old House"! Join Bob Villa, uhhh, I mean Larry, Lee, George, the prospective owner and all the gang as they hammer out another beautiful home. Due to the size of the house, the scheduling of volunteers will be challenging and crucial. We promise to do our best to inform everyone of the amount of volunteers needed and the type of work scheduled for any given week. This should ensure a great experience for everyone and will facilitate talents matching needs. The details are as follows:

Where: 511 Washburn Elgin, Il.

When: All Wednesday and Saturdays from now till the end of February excluding Christmas and New Years.

The dates that Holy Family is obligated to provide volunteers: 9/11 9/25 10/9 10/23 10/30 11/13 11/27 12/11 1/15 1/29 2/12 2/26

LUNCH: Holy Family needs to provide lunch on: 9/11 (that's really soon...someone? anyone?) and 12/11

Email or call me as soon as possible if you can commit to a work date OR provide lunch. If you want to provide lunch, I can give you details on just how easy and rewarding this role is. Workers love when the food deliverer arrives.


And this is what she sent to me:
Anyway, we, at Habitat, talk about you all the time because your students are so fantastic and so dependable. We'd love to have them come out again but we may have to limit numbers. This house is only 550 sq. ft!! Fall, however, will be the perfect time for lots of outside work so I'm sure many of your students would enjoy that and we will not be as constrained by 4 walls. We will try to make it a great experience for them.

If you are interested, please let me know and also contact Laureen. She knows me, so tell her that I told you about the opportunity. Please be polite and mature. She has been very helpful to us.

Additionally, you can volunteer at their resale shop. Click here for info.

PADS 2010

As I have mentioned in class, PADS is a great opportunity for community service. It is amazing that there are so many people who need a place to sleep and a hot meal living right here in our community. Below is a flyer for PADS of Northwest Suburban Cook County. It is in Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights and Palatine. If you are interested, checkout the info below. Also here is the link to PADS of Lake County. Also you can click here to see the list of PADS sites in Lake County, such as Libertyville, Mundelein and Wauconda.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Community Service Op: Election 2010

With the election coming this November, there is opportunity to volunteer for many political candidates. I'll list a few opportunities below, but feel free to find others:

For US Senate:
Green Party Leallen Jones
Republican Party Mark Kirk
Democrat Party Alexi Giannoulias

For 10th District US Representative:
Democrat Party Dan Seals
Republican Party Bob Dold

Community Service Op: Make A Difference Day - Halloween Funfair at Wheeling Township Office

Through volunteering and donating to the Township’s
Halloween Fun Fair for children with disabilities,
you can improve their lives and bring smiles to their faces.

VOLUNTEER as a service group to sponsor a booth.
(Call us for more details.)

Saturday, October 23
Riley Elementary School
(Northgate Subdivision)
1209 E. Burr Oak Dr., Arlington Heights
11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m

Wheeling Township Report, Inc.
1616 N. Arlington Heights Road
Arlington Heights, IL 60004

Thursday, May 20, 2010

This week's post...

Usually, posts are due tomorrow, but this week's post should be about Crash (see my prompts from a few days ago) so you may wait until the movie is finished to post so that you have a better understanding of the movie and how it addresses race.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Welcome to the world little one...

Francesca Sofia 7.2lbs, 18.5in 7:08pm

Monday, May 3, 2010

How was AP Gov?

If you missed monday because of the AP government exam (or any other reason), here is a re-cap:

Be sure your blogs are up to date.
Finish your service hours and turn in the step2 Journal for each time you served.
Nickel and Dimed is due this friday.

We watched more of the video called People Like Us:
We saw how the food that tastes good to you is influenced by social class. And so, when Burlington, VT had to choose a new grocery store in town there was a bitter fight over which one to open. The lower income people in Burlington feel invisible and ignored.

Then we saw a woman who took lessons on how to fit in with upper-class people. She learned many subtle rules about how to dress, walk, posture, eat, etc...All of these are related to class.

Finally, we got to see the really wealthy - old-money WASPs and how they think and act.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Consuming Discontentedness

It is very interesting that as the economic boom of the 1990s fizzles, citizens have stopped staring at the great dollar sign in the sky and started re-examining their own lives. Instead of the socialized message of America that says put money above all else, many Americans are stopping and realizing that happiness often comes without the money. A number of books and blogs have been written by researchers about happiness and how to find it, including this blog by Rebecca Sato

The Consumer Paradox

Researchers have found that low self-esteem and materialism are not just a correlation, but also a causal relationship where low self esteem increases materialism, and materialism can also create low self-esteem. The also found that as self esteem increases, materialism decreases. The study primarily focused on how this relationship affects children and adolescents. Lan Nguyen Chaplin (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) and Deborah Roedder John (University of Minnesota) found that even a simple gesture to raise self-esteem dramatically decreased materialism, which provides a way to cope with insecurity.
"By the time children reach early adolescence, and experience a decline in self-esteem, the stage is set for the use of material possessions as a coping strategy for feelings of low self-worth," they write in the study, which will appear in the Journal of Consumer Research.
The paradox that findings such as these bring up, is that consumerism is good for the economy but bad for the individual. In the short run, it’s good for the economy when young people believe they need to buy an entirely new wardrobe every year, for example. But the hidden cost is much higher than the dollar amount. There are costs in happiness when people believe that their value is extrinsic. There are also environmental costs associated with widespread materialism.
In the book “Happiness: Lessons From a New Science”, Richard Layard exposes a paradox at the heart of our lives. Most of us want more income so we can consume more. Yet as societies become richer, they do not become happier. In fact, the First World has more depression, more alcoholism and more crime than fifty years ago. This paradox is true of Britain, the United States, continental Europe and Japan.
Statistically people have more things than they did 50 years ago, but they are actually less happy in several key areas. There is also the considerable cost of what materialism does to the environment. We don’t yet know what final toll that could take in terms of quality of life and overall happiness. What many people don’t understand is that if we want to save the environment then at some level we have to buy and consume less. We don’t need to buy so much bottled water, for example. Studies have shown it’s usually not any purer than city tap water, which doesn’t leave mountains of plastic bottles strewn across the nations landfills. It also wastes energy and resources to make those plastic bottles and the many other unnecessary things that both youth and adults alike believe they need to have in order to enjoy life and feel good about themselves.
Mad Magazine summed it up with the statement, “The only reason a great many American families don't own an elephant is that they have never been offered an elephant for a dollar down and easy weekly payments.”
That funny statement, is only funny because it’s somewhat true. The reason people want whatever is currently “hot” is because they believe it will contribute towards their satisfaction and happiness in life. The word “believe” is the key here. People believe that buying more and more things will make them happy, when in fact research has shown time and time again that this simply isn’t the case. What we do know for sure is that buying more and more unnecessary things is damaging our planet and contributing to global warming.
Sure, one person being less materialistic isn’t going to make a noticeable impact on the environment, but it will make a positive impact in that one life. Once entire nations start to understand the myths about what really makes individuals happy, the world will stand a fighting chance.
“Be The Difference You Want. To See In The World.” 
~Mahatma Gandi.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Social Construction of Religion

The second  aspect of death and dying that I find interesting is the social construction of religion and our notions about God.   Karen Armstrong explores how different religions' ideas (and even atheists' ideas) about God have changed and evolved.  Armstrong has helped give me perspective about the social construction of religion and she has helped me sift through what I find meaningful and what I find shallow about religion.   Similar to Nigel's book, Armstrong makes the case that much of what I find difficult to understand about religion is more of a modern creation and a product of individualism and the humanism of the post-Renaissance.  Click here for a review of Armstrong's book in the NY Times.

Lastly, The Evolution of God by Robert Wright helps to reconcile the idea of science and religion. Wright provides ways of making sense of both.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A subculture of violence

As we have been learning about the powerful effect of culture on each of us, we have also touched on the idea of subcultures. One subculture exists for thousands of Americans who live surrounded by poverty and violence everyday of their lives. This environment has profound effects on individuals as evidenced by the horrific video of the beating death of a teenager in Chicago. This story has been in the national news and even international news. The Chicago Tribune has done a series of article analyzing the violence. It is facinating and disturbing to see the impact of the schools and neighborhoods on these students. Many students feel a sense of ingroup -outgroup mentality that affects how they perceive the kids from different neighborhoods. Some have criticized the city for taking kids out of their own neighborhoods and making them travel to a different neighborhood to attend school. Chicago Public Radio had a facinating interview with residents who have faced violence in their own neighborhood. It reveals a lot about the powerful effects of culture on their mindset. I know most students at our school don't face this type of violence, but this story does illustrate how ingrained culture can become and how strongly we are shaped by our environment. How are you shaped? Can see through your own fishbowl to understand how culture is shaping you?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Teaching in Kenya...

We had a guest speaker join us to talk about her experiences in Africa. Sarah Overturf ('05 alum) spoke about student teaching in Africa and volunteering there. She said that students were aghast when one of her colleagues started writing with her left hand. The whole class went silent and one of the administrators there wanted to know what evil person taught her to write left-handed! She also spoke about the culture shock of being one of the only white people around and how that felt. Another culture shock moment was using the toilet which was just an outhouse made of clay and a hole in the ground!