Friday, December 11, 2015

Volunteer Op: Northern Illnois Foodbank in Park City



Guest Speaker Jen Lesh came to speak to us about opportunities to volunteer at the Northern Illinois Foodbank.

Here is their website.

To signup to volunteer, click on the following link and use the dropdown menu to select the "Park City" Location.  Click on VOLUNTEER and there is a calendar with available dates and hours:
http://solvehungertoday.civicore.com/NIFB/index.php?action=calendar


When you drive there, don't be confused - it is in an industrial park.  Also be sure to type in Keller Drive in PARK CITY (not Waukegan).
Wear close-toed shoes, comfortable clothes.  This is an active volunteer opportunity.

Volunteer Opportunity: Gift Wrapping at GLASA

From our SHS alum, Micaela Fedyniak:

We have another BIG event coming up in December happening Saturday, December 19th to Thursday, December 24th (first week you have off, perfect for students) that we need more volunteers for.  It's a Holiday Gift Wrap Fundraiser at Gurney Mills where we are given a table to wrap presents at for the happy shoppers.  We charge per package and are able to keep 50% of the proceeds; it ends up being a pretty good fundraiser for us.  If you could please pass this along to your students or anyone else you think might be interested we are still in need of many volunteers.


Holiday Gift Wrap Fundraiser:
Date: December 19th – 24th 
Location: Gurnee Mills Mall

Please call/text/email if you have any questions about this or other opportunities we have.

Thanks and happy holidays!
Micaela

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Deviance and Social Class in Chicago

In the United States, do poor minorities have less rights than those with power? Why or why not?




At every step of the criminal justice system, the poor and minorities are more likely to remain in the system than get freed.

One example is a story that broke in February of 2015 about Chicago's secret detention facility in Homan Square on the west side.
The Homan Detention Center


From the Guardian via Gawker:
In February, the Guardian published a deep investigation into Homan Square, a shadowy facility where the Chicago Police Department takes suspects without booking them, entering them into any official database, or giving them access to a telephone or their lawyer. A new Guardian report claims that more than twice as many people have been “disappeared” into Homan as officials initially disclosed...The paper obtained documents showing that more than 7,000 people were detained at Homan between 2004 and 2015—about 6,000 of whom were black. Less than one percent of those detainees were allowed to see their lawyers during interrogations. Attorneys described a system that seems deliberately engineered to make it difficult to find their clients; others said that they were turned around at the door. “Try finding a phone number for Homan to see if anyone’s there. You can’t, ever,” an attorney named David Gaeger told the Guardian. “If you’re laboring under the assumption that your client’s at Homan, there really isn’t much you can do as a lawyer. You’re shut out. It’s guarded like a military installation.”
And from an August 2015 Guardian report:
Of the thousands held in the facility known as Homan Square over a decade, 82% were black. Only three received documented visits from an attorney, according to a cache of documents obtained when the Guardian sued the police.  Documents indicate the detainees are a group of disproportionately minority citizens, many accused of low-level drug crimes, faced with incriminating themselves before their arrests appeared in a booking system by which their families and attorneys might find them.
One of my former students was detained there:





From the Guardian,

Marc Freeman is the 11th person to come forward to the Guardian detailing detention inside Homan Square – and the first whose police record details how long he was stuck inside. ‘At no point was I ever processed, I was never asked for my information, they did not take any fingerprints,’ he said.

Here is the John Oliver bit on Civil Forfeiture that Mr. Freeman mentioned:




Another more disturbing example is former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge who tortured suspects for decades to get them to confess.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Coin Flip metaphor for Deviance and social class; Heads I win, tails you lose

Today we wagered on flipping pennies in class. The exercise was a metaphor for deviance and social class. The exercise resembles real life in a number of ways:
It had the appearance of being fair and equal - everyone had a 50% chance of winning. However, the way the rules are written, the money will flow to the top with just a few having most coins and most people having very little.  The more money you have the more opportunities you have.

Most U.S. citizens do not like the idea of social class. They will not acknowledge the rules that create the distribution of wealth that we see in the exercise. But the reality is that our wealth and even our income in the U.S. resembles that of the coin flip metaphor; a few individuals at the top with enormous wealth and income and most people at the bottom making very little (comparatively).
Here is a graph of the real distribution of income in the US.  Notice how closely it resembles the coin flipping metaphor:

And the "rules" of our society help to create that dynamic. By "rules" I mean the opportunities and obstacles that we face based on our social class.


These rules can also be applied to what we have been talking about regarding deviance. One example is William Chambliss's study of The Saints and Roughnecks.  Those with money are able to stay clear of the criminal justice system while the majority of those who are locked up in prisons are citizens with low income.(see this study from the Chicago Urban League for more on that) As I mentioned in an earlier post:

Wealthy crimes are generally "white collar" crime, esp. corporate crime. Instead of white collar crime, our society tends to focus on street crime such as robberies, murders, rapes. The media contributes to this b/c it is action-packed, full of emotion (fear), and personalized (it tells a good story). On the other hand, white collar crime is boring (numbers & statistics). But the reality is that it is more costly ($400bil). One example is Sears which defrauded poor customers of over $100 million. They pled guilty and avoided a trial; other companies settled out of court for similar practices. Firestone executives let faulty tires remain on U.S. vehicles even though they had been recalled in other countries. About 200 people killed. Under federal law, causing the death of a worker by willfully violating safety rules is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to six months in prison. Powerful people bypass the courts and are usually fined – no jail.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Women's Ads

Each person in your group should find an ad in these categories:

Women's jeans
Women's fragrance/cologne
A movie targeting women

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Men's Ads

Each person in your group should find an ad in these categories:

Men's jeans
Men's fragrance/cologne
A movie targeting men


Monday, October 5, 2015

Understanding American Values from Robert Kohl


HW:  For next week Tuesday please: 1) read Thrive in your packet   2)do the "nothing" assignment.

For today, I want to examine the Kohl reading and see if you can apply the values from the reading to the God Grew Tired of Us movie and to your own life.

1.  Individually, react to the Kohl reading.  What are some of the values that Kohl mentions that you easily agree Americans have?  What are some specific examples that you can cite from your own life that show these values shaping either you or your parents or another example?
Value                          Example

____________________     __________________________________________________________________

2.  Pick your best example of how these values are at play in The United States or at SHS or in your own life.  Take turns sharing each person’s best example.  Oldest person in the group goes first.  Write down the values that others share and their example:
Value                          Example

____________________     __________________________________________________________________

3.  As a group, identify values that are contradictory to U.S. values from the film God Grew Tired of Us.
Value                          Example

____________________     __________________________________________________________________
  
4.  Look at the list of values that Americans hold.  Identify American values that might compliment each other.  These are called value clusters.  List them here:

Value Cluster: ­­­­­­­­­­­________________________________________________________________________________

Now look for American values that might contradict the other American values.  These are called value contradictions.  List them here:

Value Contradiction: ________________________________________________________________________


5.  Do you think Americans value happiness?  Why? How?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Service Op: Special Olympics Flag Football Sept 27th at SHS

We are currently recruiting volunteers for our Flag Football event on Sunday, September 27th at Stevenson High School. I am not the staff taking the lead on this event nor will I be attending, but offered to help recruit volunteer help. If you could pass along this link to anyone who might be interested we would really appreciate it: http://cerv.is/m?0117x1330 This has all the information and slots we need to fill.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Remembering 9/11

September 11, 2001 was earth shattering for those who were living through it.  Over the years, stories and lessons have emerged from that day.  So, on the anniversary of 9/11, I want to post about it as a way of remembering those who died that day but also to learn something from that day.  My own personal experience was that I was teaching sociology in a room in the 2900 hallway when Mr. Frantonius came into my room in a hurry and said turn on your TV, the pentagon is on fire and the world trade center is on fire.  We turned on the TV to live coverage and we watched the mayhem including live footage of the crash into tower 2 of the World Trade Center.   I remember leaving and trying to figure out what to tell my students in non-western cultures class third period.  Then, I had to travel to the other building and going outside was transformational - it was a beautiful sunny september day and the birds were singing oblivious to the horrors that people were going through.  It was ocmforting to think of creation and nature being so at peace.  Anyway, I had to teach the rest of the day despite the turmoil of emotions that we all experienced.  Looking back, there are some lessons to be learned and I think they all relate in part to sociology, certainly when considering sociological mindfulness.

One of the most direct ways that I think sociologically about 9/11 is in the discussion of stereotypes and categories. I posted about this here too. The attackers on 9/11 fell into the category of Muslim but that should not be turned into a stereotype about Muslims. There is a powerful video that illustrates how Muslims were stereotyped after 9/11 and the video also shows how these stereotypes are shattered when you see the full spectrum of Muslims in America. video
The speech in that video illustrates the same type of racist, intolerance that led to the attacks on 9/11. I think that September 11 can be a day to remember that we are all connected and we all share this world, and this can be done in peace and tolerance, even if we are not all in agreement. Don't let the hurt and anger give way to stereotypes, injustice and hatred.

Another way I think about 9/11 is through all of the love and heroism that was displayed during that traumatic day. There are so many stories of strangers helping each other and displaying unbelievable acts of courage and love - from the Port Authority of NY to the police, fire and other first responders to those who just happened to be at work that day and found themselves in a situation to help others. It was an incredible illustration that when life seems senseless and unbearable, we can ask ourselves, "How can I serve?" In other words, what can I do to help my fellow people and how can I make this world a bit better. That gives meaning to our life just as it did to those people on 9/11. Sociologically, humans were made to need each other. Here is a video displaying some of this heroism and caring in the largest water evacuation in history. video It is our nature to love one another and be cooperative. We often lose sight of that in our individualistic culture. Here is a quote from two survivors of 9/11:
On a personal level, Mel and Lisa learned several lessons from that day. “Be patient, be tolerant and above all tell people you love them every single day,” Lisa said. “Hate drove that day. The lesson is to never hate. Hate does damage. People didn’t need to die that day.”
Here is another example about the people living in the small town of Gander in Newfoundland, Canada and how they came to the aid of hundreds of people. video One example from my own life this day was my mom who worked at O'Hare Airport as a ticket agent. After the attacks, O'Hare was closed down and all the employees and passengers were being forced to evacuate. As this was going on, an elderly woman who had trouble seeing approached my mom and asked what she should do. My mom said that the airlines would get a hotel room for her. The woman said that the nearest available rooms were in a far suburb away from the airport. So, my mom said, "You know what? You come home with me." And she did. This total stranger lived with my parents for four days! It was that kind of caring that these horrible events brought out. I hope to be mindful and let that light shine without a horrific switch turning it on.

Read more: http://rapidcityjournal.com/thechadronnews/latest/couple-say-lessons-are-patience-tolerance-love/article_ef9e8656-d8ca-11e0-8657-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1Y3NoAXGC


One of the heroes of that day was Rick Rescorla. Rick was a war veteran who was working as head of security for Morgan Stanly Dean Witter. He anticipated the terrible attacks on the Towers and that caused him to force the employees of MSDW to undergo evacuation drills regularly. It is my understanding that these were not popular within the company, but it was his conviction and willingness to take an unpopular stance that prepared so many for the events of that day. What a model Rescorla is for standing up for our beliefs and doing a job the best that we can while thinking of our fellow men.
From the NY Times
HAVING coined the phrase “the banality of evil,” Hannah Arendt went on to suggest that the most heinous crimes have often been committed by morally desensitized ordinary people. The inverse may be equally true: that “ordinary” heroes like Rick Rescorla, who saved almost 2,700 lives on Sept. 11, 2001, only to lose his own, are the yang to Arendt’s yin, demonstrating what you might call the profundity of virtue.

And one last story by former NYPD cop, Steve Osborn who helps us understand what it's like to be a cop on most days and how that translated to 9/11.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Service Op: Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association (GLASA)

A former student of mine is now working at the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association (GLASA).  They provide sporting events for people who need the sport modified in a way so that they can compete, such as wheelchair basketball.  Here is a video about one of their athletes:





If you are interested in sports or physical therapy or special ed, this may be a great opportunity for you. They have a 5K fundraiser coming up that you can volunteer for by clicking here.




 Click here to learn more about opportunities to get involved with GLASA. You can call and ask for Micaela Fedyniak.

Service Op: Feeding the needy at St. Thomas October 13th, 2015

Tuesday October 13, 2015, we can take 5 students from each class to the St. Thomas Soup Kitchen. If there is a large interest, I will have a lottery for students interested. However, you can always reserve a spot for yourself and friends or family on another day by clicking the link below and calling them.  Usually we meet at 3:10 in the lower east commons.  We take a bus together and return by 8.
There is a church in Chicago called St. Thomas of Canterbury. They generously and humbly serve hundreds of meals to those in need each year. From their website:
Our Soup Kitchen is open every Tuesday and Friday throughout the year, except on Christmas Day. We currently serve 175 to 200 people each time. The doors are open to guests from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Volunteer activities include the preparation of meals, setting the tables, serving the meals to our seated guests and, of course, cleaning up!
Jim Eder has been running the soup kitchen for years and he is a really great guy. If interested in volunteering, call Christine, the volunteer scheduler at 773-878-5507. Be sure to visit their volunteering link here for more info.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Life as a high school student

From the Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/10/24/teacher-spends-two-days-as-a-student-and-is-shocked-at-what-she-learned/

Key Takeaway #1
Students sit all day, and sitting is exhausting.
If I could go back and change my classes now, I would immediately change the following three things:
  • mandatory stretch halfway through the class
  • put a Nerf basketball hoop on the back of my door and encourage kids to play in the first and final minutes of class
  • build in a hands-on, move-around activity into every single class day. Yes, we would sacrifice some content to do this – that’s fine. I was so tired by the end of the day, I wasn’t absorbing most of the content, so I am not sure my previous method of making kids sit through hour-long, sit-down discussions of the texts was all that effective.
Key Takeaway #2
High school students are sitting passively and listening during approximately 90 percent of their classes.
If I could go back and change my classes now, I would immediately:
  • Offer brief, blitzkrieg-like mini-lessons with engaging, assessment-for-learning-type activities following directly on their heels (e.g. a ten-minute lecture on Whitman’s life and poetry, followed by small-group work in which teams scour new poems of his for the very themes and notions expressed in the lecture, and then share out or perform some of them to the whole group while everyone takes notes on the findings.)
  • set an egg timer every time I get up to talk and all eyes are on me. When the timer goes off, I am done. End of story. I can go on and on. I love to hear myself talk. I often cannot shut up. This is not really conducive to my students’ learning, however much I might enjoy it.
  • Ask every class to start with students’ Essential Questions or just general questions born of confusion from the previous night’s reading or the previous class’s discussion. I would ask them to come in to class and write them all on the board, and then, as a group, ask them to choose which one we start with and which ones need to be addressed. This is my biggest regret right now – not starting every class this way. I am imagining all the misunderstandings, the engagement, the enthusiasm, the collaborative skills, and the autonomy we missed out on because I didn’t begin every class with fifteen or twenty minutes of this.
Key takeaway #3
You feel a little bit like a nuisance all day long.
If I could go back and change my classes now, I would immediately:
  • Dig deep into my personal experience as a parent where I found wells of patience and love I never knew I have, and call upon them more often when dealing with students who have questions. Questions are an invitation to know a student better and create a bond with that student. We can open the door wider or shut if forever, and we may not even realize we have shut it.
  • I would make my personal goal of “no sarcasm” public and ask the students to hold me accountable for it. I could drop money into a jar for each slip and use it to treat the kids to pizza at the end of the year. In this way, I have both helped create a closer bond with them and shared a very real and personal example of goal-setting for them to use a model in their own thinking about goals.
  • I would structure every test or formal activity like the IB exams do – a five-minute reading period in which students can ask all their questions but no one can write until the reading period is finished. This is a simple solution I probably should have tried years ago that would head off a lot (thought, admittedly, not all) of the frustration I felt with constant, repetitive questions.
A follow-up post:
https://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2014/10/19/a-ps-to-the-guest-post-on-shadowing-hs-students-and-the-author-revealed/

A few clarifying comments are in order, based on the half million reads and many comments and tweets:
  1. I was thus not the author of the piece; there was no attempt on my part to hide behind a mythical person, though many thousands attributed the piece to me (even though my introduction to the post said that I was not the author).
  2. There were hundreds of comments about the cause of this HS drudgery being due to NCLB, Common Core, teacher accountability, and standardized tests. OOPS – as I noted early in one of my few replies to comments, Alexis teaches in a private school. Indeed, she teaches overseas in an American International School. So those many reader comments were a bit of projection – which, itself, is perhaps worthy of another post. The fact that such passive learning exists in good private schools (and colleges) only makes the matters raised in her post MORE important: why do we continue to make even elite education so passive when we don’t have to?
  3. The overwhelming response to the post was positive. Only a tiny handful of readers trashed the post, the author, me, and/or other commenters who were positive. They felt attacked as educators (though I really believe a fair reading of the piece shows that it was not an attack on teachers but schooling as we have all experienced it).
  4. The most poignant comments had to do with Alexis’ observation that the teachers she observed – as well as herself and me on video – are unwittingly more sarcastic than we imagine ourselves to be. Numerous parents picked up on this truth, too. Only 2 commenters tried to defend sarcasm in teachers.
  5. Alexis teaches in a school that has a block schedule, as was noted by the post. That made the passivity longer and more tiring – but it also meant that Alexis did not get to visit all the students’ classes (which included art and other more active classes). The good news: Alexis shadowed students in the other block and will report her findings later this week.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Race, biology and forensic evidence

The following text is from Johns Hopkins about cranium structure and race:
In American legal contexts, ancestry is usually at issue as a way of determining the racial affinity of unidentified skeletal remains. Hence, the forensic anthropologist usually tries to make a determination as to whether a skull has features that indicate African, European, Asian or Native American ancestry.
Cranial features are not perfect indicators of ancestry: Forensic anthropologists using multiple features claim at best 85% accuracy in their assessment of racial ancestry. When we know less about the context of a skull, we will be less and less accurate.
Here are some traits that vary between skulls with different race backgrounds. Most of them are on the face or palate.
  • Shape of the eye orbits, viewed from the front. Africans tend to a more rectangular shape, East Asians more circular, Europeans tend to have an ``aviator glasses'' shape.
  • Nasal sill: Europeans tend to have a pronounced angulation dividing the nasal floor from the anterior surface of the maxilla; Africans tend to lack a sharp angulation, Asians tend to be intermediate.
  • Nasal bridge: Africans tend to have an arching, ``Quonset hut'' shape, Europeans tend to have high nasal bones with a peaked angle, Asians tend to have low nasal bones with a slight angulation.
  • Nasal aperture: Africans tend to have wide nasal apertures, Europeans narrow.
  • Subnasal prognathism: Africans tend to have maxillae that project more anteriorly (prognathic) below the nose, Europeans tend to be less projecting.
  • Zygomatic form: Asians tend to have anteriorly projecting cheekbones. The border of the frontal process (lateral to the orbit) faces forward. In Europeans and Africans, these face more laterally and the zygomatic recedes more posteriorly.

Note :  First, the author claims that even with multiple features, forensic anthropologists can only point to a race with 85% accuracy.
Second, note the text that reads, with less "context" we will be less accurate.
And, lastly note that the author is not definitive, but instead uses words like "tend to have" instead of  definitively saying "Europeans have..."
Finally, note that the author is only speaking about Asian, African and White.  What would an Egyptian person be?  Or how about these:  aboriginal Australian, Hawaiian, Alaskan, Berber, Eritrean, Swahili,Yanomano, Nenet people, Koriaks? 

And note this article from the professional organization that studies hair.  It explains that
This study has shown that it is possible to classify the various hair types found worldwide into eight main groups. The approach involves objective descriptors of hair shape, and is more reliable than traditional methods relying on categories such as curly, wavy, and kinky. Applied to worldwide human diversity, it avoids reference to the putative, unclear ethnic origin of subjects. Briefly, a straight hair type I is just that, and whether it originates from a Caucasian or an Asian subject is not at issue. The hair types defined here also more adequately reflect the large variation of hair shape diversity around the world, and may possibly help to trace past mixed origins amongst human subgroups.
Lastly, note that the author of the afore mentioned forensics article is mostly referring to race IN AMERICA.  That is something that often goes unsaid.  They say race, but they really mean race IN AMERICA.  And when you go to another country like Brazil, for example, the information does not apply.  That is the problem with race, people assume it is  biological but it does not apply to other countries.

The fact is that people do look different.  Some people look more similarly to each other such as hair type and cranium structure.  BUT, these looks are not distinguishable into distinct identifiable groups that many people call "race".  It simply is not possible and does not exist.  Before any forensic analysis of "racial" types is done, I would ask the forensic analyst how he determines "race." What are the racial groups?  How many are there?  What determines each group?  There are not answers to these questions because race does not exist biologically.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Special Olympics Bowling Volunteer Op

We are reaching out to you as we are looking for additional Bowling Volunteers for our upcoming event on Sunday, May 31st at Brunswick Zone in Lake Zurich off of Rand Rd. We have a handful of you already signed up, but wanted to include you to pass along this information to anyone who may be interested. We have two time shifts: 8:00am-12:30pm and 12:00pm-4:00pm for an overlap in time to fit in training.
Volunteers are asked to assist at a lane to ensure Bowling athletes are going in the correct order, assist with retrieving balls, inform the front desk of any lane issues, and record each bowlers final score…it is totaled by a computer, no need to know how to keep score! If anyone is interested you can direct them to me.

All volunteers will receive a lunch and a shirt for the day. We appreciate your continued support and efforts to make events such as this possible. Thank you!

Brenden Cannon | Area 13 Director | Special Olympics Illinois
103 Schelter Rd, Ste 25 | Lincolnshire, IL 60069 | P: 224-377-8378| F: 847-478-0982

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Baltimore

Today we talked about Baltimore. First, the lesson is in the media's role in reporting the events. We have learned the enormous impact the media has on US citizens. This is true in the case of coverage of the events in Baltimore. The coverage remains largely focused on the rioters. However, thousands of people protested peacefully. And hundreds helped to clean the city and unite and work together to make the best of a bad day. Including these preschool kids:











This article from the Baltimore Sun is written by someone who attended the peaceful protests.

And this article from Black Westchester highlights the enormous number of people who protested peacefully.

Despite the large peaceful protest, the media will focus on the color of the rioters and paint a broad racial brush over the incident turning the riot into a condemnation of the black urban poor and all those associated with it. But this rarely happens when those in the majority behave badly. When that happens, the offenders might be denigrated, but not their whole race or their whole social class or culture. Here is a satirical news report demonstrating how silly it would look if the media actually did that:


Another aspect of Baltimore is the criticism of the rioters without acknowledging the issues that lead people to the outrage that sparks riots.  Here is a quote from Dr. King:

 "But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity. Rev. Dr. M.L.King, Jr., March 14, 1968
And this article in the Atlantic that was written by a guy who grew up in Baltimore and knows the dynamics of the community well.  Similar to Dr. King, the author states:
The people now calling for nonviolence are not prepared to answer these questions. Many of them are charged with enforcing the very policies that led to Gray's death, and yet they can offer no rational justification for Gray's death and so they appeal for calm. But there was no official appeal for calm when Gray was being arrested. There was no appeal for calm when Jerriel Lyles was assaulted. (“The blow was so heavy. My eyes swelled up. Blood was dripping down my nose and out my eye.”) There was no claim for nonviolence on behalf of Venus Green. (“Bitch, you ain’t no better than any of the other old black bitches I have locked up.”) There was no plea for peace on behalf of Starr Brown. (“They slammed me down on my face,” Brown added, her voice cracking. “The skin was gone on my face.")
When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is "correct" or "wise," any more than a forest fire can be "correct" or "wise." Wisdom isn't the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the community.
This article from the Baltimore Sun documents many incidents that have created a feeling of disrespect and not being taken seriously among the poor black community living in Baltimore.
Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations. Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson.
Those cases detail a frightful human toll. Officers have battered dozens of residents who suffered broken bones — jaws, noses, arms, legs, ankles — head trauma, organ failure, and even death, coming during questionable arrests. Some residents were beaten while handcuffed; others were thrown to the pavement.
And in almost every case, prosecutors or judges dismissed the charges against the victims — if charges were filed at all.
The use of unfocused, random violence in the US is a response to not being taken seriously.  It is a response to feelings of being ignored and powerless.  I do not think this is how we should react to those feelings, but I want to point out that our culture creates that reaction.  See this post about masculinity, this post about school shootings, this post about Ferguson, Missouri.  All of these are examples of violent masculinity; that is violence means you are taken seriously and you are to be reckoned with.  The Huffington Post explains that here and Dr. King also talked about that nearly 50 years ago (from Time magazine):
“And I contend that the cry of ‘black power’ is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro...I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years.”
To be clear, I want to state emphatically that I do not think that destroying property, setting fires, attacking police are helpful and justifiable ways to deal with the frustrations of the community in Baltimore or Ferguson or [you name it].  However, I understand the destruction in terms of the larger cultural forces that promote violence and feelings of helpless powerlessness.  I don't think that anyone should paint a broad brush over the black community any more than you would paint a broad brush over all cops everywhere.  It is just as ridiculous to say that all cops are corrupt or all cops engage in police brutality as it is to say that "all of those people need to simply follow the law" or all of those people need to raise their kids better".

The feeling of disrespect and not being taken seriously is embedded in a long history, see this article tracing that.

Another ridiculous meme is that there is never outrage over black on black crime.  As the meme goes, "Where are the protests over crime within the black community?"  The protests are there, but you won't read about it in mainstream media:
Here's an article addressing it:
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/04/why-dont-black-people-protest-black-on-black-violence/255329/

A quick google search turns up loads of hits about protesting the violence:

A Chicago Public School student protests the violence:
http://www.pcsedu.org/news-stories/abc7-chicago-cps-student-launches-peace-campaign

A rapper protests the violence:
http://newsone.com/3011373/chicagos-chance-the-rapper-chicago-violence/

An NBA player protests the violence:
http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/07/25/joakim-noah-launches-campaign-against-violence/

Civic Leaders protest the violence:
http://abc7chicago.com/news/stop-the-violence-chicago-leaders-call-for-action/173732/

Chicagoans who grew up in the violence risk their lives to fight the violence:
http://interrupters.kartemquin.com/

An NGO protests the violence
http://cureviolence.org/

Friday, March 13, 2015

American Culture and Tuesdays With Morrie

Tuesdays with Morrie can be a case study in examining American values.  If we think with sociological mindfulness we can see how these values become a part of who we are and how we help to promote the values.  Then, we can start to choose how and when the values influence us.  This can help us prioritize our life.  Here is a link to a story about priorities.

Death v. Materialism, Individualism
Are Americans afraid of death? Is death a taboo topic? Why do you think this is the case? How might our feelings about death be related to our materialism? I also think that our feelings about death are rooted in our culture's individualism. See this post about the way our culture associates individualism with grieving one's death.  That is why I think most students would say the movie was a sad movie (at least parts of it) even though those same students would admit that Morrie doesn't want them to be sad.  Morrie himself explains,"Don't be so sad because I'm going to die Mitch...Death ends a life but not a relationship..." And Morrie explains, I'll still love you and you'll always love me.


Happiness v. Work, Personal Achievement, Success, Materialism
What are some ways that Mitch values hard work, achievement, success? Is this true for you or your parents? Does this start in high school or even sooner? What ways? Is it possible to obtain a different type of success? Think about (click here for more info) the Nothing assignment and how we connect what we do to who we are as people. Our culture constructs a reality where we are not allowed to just be. We must be doing at all times; it is valuing personal achievement, time, work, competition, materialism and success. Note that happiness is never a apart of the equation.  The hegemonic assumption is that happiness simply comes with those values.  See this post about happiness and it's relationship to money.  Contrast these values with the values that Michael Buettner writes about in his book Thrive.  What are the lessons you learned from Thrive?  How would you like to live your life differently after reading this?  What would be a message you would like to share with the rest of your classmates who don't have the privilege of being in our class?  This value cluster also reminds me of this joke about an American businessman and a Mexican fisherman

 Love v. Individualism, Materialism
Do you think that Americans are afraid to love each other, or show that they love each other? If we are afraid to love, why might that be? Does our culture socially construct our reality so that we are afraid to love? What values in our culture might make us feel this way? How can we overcome this? What is the difference between the value of “romantic love” and real love - the love Morrie talks about?   I think these different types of love are related to American values too.  See this post for more on the idea of romantic love vs. real love.  How is this a part of your life?

Understanding the American values of Independence, Freedom, Individualism & Personal Control v. Dependency


1.  Individually, reflect on Tuesdays with Morrie.  What are some examples within the movie of characters being individualistic (as opposed to being dependent)?  How does the value of Individualism combine with the value of personal control?  Cite examples from the movie.



2.  What are some ways that you see the values of individualism and personal control shaping your own life or the lives of your parents/siblings/friends?



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3.    After you discussed number one above in your small group, do you understand how the American cultural values can shape individuals’ lives?
_____Yes
_____No
If yes, what was one example from your group partners that was a good example?
If no, why not?  What questions do you have?



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4.  Close your eyes.  Think of someone influential in your life.  Now write down who you thought about and why you thought about that person.


When you are finished, click here.


In what ways are Americans afraid of being dependent on others? Do you think that this is related to our value of independence and freedom? In what ways do you depend on other people? Does this bother you? Another great example of these values influencing us negatively is explored in this TED talk by Brene Brown. She speaks about vulnerability and our cuture. We want to numb our feelings of vulnerability, but in doing so we also numb our feelings of connection to others and our sense of worthiness which allows us to feel love and happiness.







The feeling of individualism and independence that creates this lack of invulnerability may also detach us from feelings of gratitude that help contribute to our happiness.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Polar plunge 2015!


SHS wins the high school challenge!  Thank you everyone who participated especially girls water polo.  And we even got some press coverage in the Trib with a nice quote by miss  Jordan Landau!






Friday, February 13, 2015

Social media and mindfulness

This article in the New York Times is a reminder to be mindful when using social media. Social media is a great example of how our influence spreads. Before Twitter or Facebook it may have spread by word-of-mouth and friends talking to one another so we would never see it but now with social media you can follow your influence around the world.
http://nyti.ms/1zaehJD

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sub Day!

Today I am out at a professional development meeting.  Here are your tasks for the day:


1.  Please take the following quiz.  Take the quiz and answer True or False for each.  You can use page 41 in your packet to write your answers down.  Answer quickly using common sense.  Go with your first instinct.

Here is the quiz:  Click here for the quiz

Write your answers individually on page 41 of your packet.

When your whole group is finished, click here.



2.  Now that you see the importance of research in sociology, brainstorm some topics that you would like to know more about. It can be anything you are curious about:  dating, college, facebook, cell phone use, etc...  Make a list of topics. Again, you can use page 41.  Do this as a group.  

Next, go onto the SHS library page and use the search engine JSTOR to search for sociological research about some of the more interesting  topics that you brainstormed.
JSTOR is an online database that you can search by subject.  Click here for the SHS JSTOR Advanced search.  Type in your search term(s) and then scroll down to select "sociology" then click search.

Read the abstract of the article or skim the whole article.  Then look for:
A. What method(s) did  the researchers use?

Research might be:
Qualitative (open-ended observation and analysis) or  Quantatative (numerical data)

And

Interviews
Surveys
Experiments
or
Observation (fieldwork, ethnography, participant observer)

B. What did they find?

Search for a few studies and make brief notes to share with the class.

3.  If there is time, use the handout from the sub titled "Self-Assessment."  Re-read your second post  that was due on monday.  Evaluate it for the three areas on the sheet.  After you have done this for your own post, exchange sheets with someone else and let him/her evaluate your post on the back of the sheet. 


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Super-Mindfulness? The Seatle Seahawks use mindfulness in their recipe for success

Here's an article about how the Seahawks used mindfulness to create such a successful team. Remember that mindfulness applies to our class when the awareness is about the influence of others on us and our influence on others. That is when it becomes sociological mindfulness. https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2015/01/31/for-mindful-seahawks-thriving-nontraditional-football-culture/cPw5XNBFESxWWaDx5TxVGJ/story.html



The Seahawks brought in Dr. Michael Gervais three years ago to help players strengthen their mental fortitude and awareness. Matt York/AP The Seahawks brought in Dr. Michael Gervais three years ago to help players strengthen their mental fortitude and awareness. By Alex SpeierGlobe Staff January 31, 2015 PHOENIX — Rare are the occasions when a group of 200- to 350-pound individuals whose job descriptions involve physically crushing opponents can offer a veritable symposium on the benefits of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. Welcome to the Seattle Seahawks’ grand experiment. Grandfatherly coach Pete Carroll is not running your grandfather’s football team. Instead, under the Seahawks coach, at a time when they are atop the competitive landscape with their second straight Super Bowl appearance, Seattle has moved to the forefront of NFL teams in terms of embracing mental conditioning as a means of allowing their players to thrive. The Seahawks talk often about celebrating the uniqueness of their individual players, finding ways to tap into the strengths of each player and create roles, gameplans, and more broadly an environment to permit them to do just that. “In a very short time in Seattle with the Seahawks, [Carroll has] created a fertile ground for people to explore their own best self,” said Dr. Michael Gervais, a high-performance psychologist, in an interview for Mindful Magazine. Watch Video Video: Super Bowl Preview: Patriots vs. Seahawks Video: Carroll, Belichick on when they were fired “It’s grounded in really well-researched science, of psychology, is he’s exploring with a person, collectively and individually, what is possible. … It is a culture of people aspiring to be at their best.” Gervais, characterized as a high-performance psychologist, is a central part of that grand experiment. He’s been a regular in Seahawks practices and on the sidelines during games for three years. He’s worked with players on mental conditioning through practices such as meditation and yoga. But more broadly, he’s at the forefront of Seattle’s culture of mindfulness, described somewhat loosely as a focus on the present in which a player is keenly aware of his surroundings and thoughts. Quarterback Russell Wilson has been working with a mental conditioning consultant since 2012. Christian Petersen/Getty Images Quarterback Russell Wilson has been working with a mental conditioning consultant since 2012. “The idea of mindfulness is really important — being mindful of situations, the surroundings you have, understanding what other people are thinking, understanding what other people do extremely well and what their weaknesses are — how do you heighten their strengths and how do you strengthen their weaknesses,” explained Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. “I think that’s kind of the thought process, especially as a quarterback, that I always have to be conscious of, that I always have to be utilizing.” Wilson does not take that responsibility lightly. Not only does he embrace the advice of Carroll and Gervais in the discipline of mindfulness, but he’s hired mental conditioning consultant Trevor Moawad — with whom he’s worked since preparing for the NFL draft in 2012 — to help him maintain heightened levels of awareness, focus, and leadership. “What’s unique about Russell is, Russell knows you don’t need to be sick to get better. He knows that I can do really, really well and still find ways to get better,” said Moawad, suggesting that most athletes who seek his services do so after they’ve encountered adversity. “It should be obvious to athletes but it is not obvious to most athletes.” Wilson is not alone in embracing the atypical tenets being preached by the Seahawks. Safety Earl Thomas, for instance, suggested his sideline-to-sideline defensive coverage and game awareness were unlocked by the mental skills approach taken by Seattle. “[Mindfulness] puts an emphasis on focus. I couldn’t focus for a long period of time until I got here. It took practice,” Thomas said. “You see everything for what it is — you notice it. When it comes to football, how the game moves, I can see everything now. My eyes can expand to see the whole picture.” Such testimonials come in contrast with what one might assume to be the typical view of sports psychology in the NFL, a league that has cultivated an image of rigid, almost oppressive discipline for decades. It is a league, suggested Moawad (who has worked with football teams dating to 2001 in Jacksonville), that “has been fairly stagnant for a variety of reasons” in terms of its embrace of mental conditioning. Coach Pete Carroll has spearheaded the Seahawks’ nontraditional football culture. Christian Petersen/Getty Images Coach Pete Carroll has spearheaded the Seahawks’ nontraditional football culture. Baseball and the NBA have embraced performance psychology for some decades (with the Red Sox in some ways at the current vanguard of that movement), with names such as Harvey Dorfman, Don Kalkstein, and Bob Tewksbury becoming familiar around leagues, and the Zenmaster label of Phil Jackson reflecting a keen interest in the mind-athlete connection. But in the NFL, the idea of team-instituted sessions of focused meditation and breathing exercises to control heart rates, mindfulness, and individuality is a bit … different. “It took me about six months to get used to it and to understand how it works, to be honest with you. It took me a while to embrace the coaching,” said defensive end Cliff Avril, who came to the Seahawks from the Lions in 2013. “Everything that we do is a little bit different, from how we approach games, meetings, practice, everything.” The integration of Gervais into the work of the coaching staff is very real. Coaches consult with him about the sets of thoughts that might be on a player’s mind at the snap of the ball; from that basis, the coaches feel better able to do their jobs of communicating to the players about the elements on the field about which they need to be aware. “[Mindfulness is] a big factor, and one that we all take advantage of. Everyone reaches out to [Gervais] quite a bit. For us to have that kind of expertise, just from the mental training and the mindset of what it takes to be a competitor, that’s been big for us,” said defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. “If there’s a better way to do it, if we can find a competitive edge in any way, we want to do that.” The merits of that competitive edge — and the joy of the nontraditional football culture in Seattle — have become apparent to the players, in a way that has achieved team-wide buy-in. That doesn’t mean the players sat on the sidelines during the last week of practice in team-wide meditation (a couple of players admitted that they didn’t even realize that the team offered meditation instruction until recent weeks). Still, the players recognize that more than sheer physicality has kept them competing at a championship level over the past two years. “Everybody has their type of mental training and mental preparation. We have guys on our staff that we can talk to and work with that,” receiver Jermaine Kearse said. “I think that the mental aspect of our team, I feel like that’s what makes us special.”

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Service Op: Louder than a bomb slam poetry festival volunteer

Chicago is home to the oldest and largest slam poetry celebration in the country! It is called Louder than a Bomb!


If you like writing, poetry, rap or hiphop, this may be a cool volunteering experience.

Here is the link to volunteer:
http://youngchicagoauthors.org/blog/ltab/volunteering/