Who is Hunsberger? The article’s author, Phil Hunsberger, has worked as a teacher, principal, central office administrator and school reform coach. His dedication to inclusion in the classroom experience is clear. Hunsberger’s idea of “connectedness” between “reader and text” parallels Dewey’s principle of the interaction between “learner and environment.” This article calls for “culturally relevant” lessons in language arts classrooms. Hunsberger asserts that there are limitations to the NCLB act as it pertains to literature arts instruction, especially as it relates to cultural relevancy.
Call for Connectedness in Literature
“ Where am I?” A call for “connectedness” in literacy PHIL HUNSBERGER Educational Equity Consultants, St. Louis, Missouri, USA Reading Research Quarterly - July/August/September 2007
What does it matter? In Constructivism, we note: “ Learning is a search for meaning. Therefore, learning must start with the issues around which students are actively trying to construct meaning.” ( http://www.funderstanding.com/constructivism.cfm ) “ The purpose of learning is for an individual to construct his or her own meaning, not just memorize the "right" answers and regurgitate someone else's meaning.” ( http://www.funderstanding.com/constructivism.cfm ) In Piaget’s Theory, we note: “ Teachers must emphasize the critical role that experiences--or interactions with the surrounding environment--play in student learning. For example, instructors have to take into account the role that fundamental concepts, such as the permanence of objects, play in establishing cognitive structures.” ( http://www.funderstanding.com/piaget.cfm ) In the Vygotsky and Social Cognition, theory we note: “ The social cognition learning model asserts that culture is the prime determinant of individual development. Humans are the only species to have created culture, and every human child develops in the context of a culture. Therefore, a child's learning development is affected in ways large and small by the culture--including the culture of family environment--in which he or she is enmeshed.” ( http://www.funderstanding.com/vygotsky.cfm )
“ No Child Left Behind” <ul><li>The NCLB requires that each school show “adequate yearly progress” ( AYP ). </li></ul><ul><li>AYP has forced educators to focus on raising test scores </li></ul><ul><li>Many classrooms, concerned about meeting the AYP goals, work on test preparation, not learner preparation . </li></ul>
Who am I?: The Identity of the Learner <ul><li>Hunsberger asserts that it is necessary for the educator to understand the learner and his/her identity in order to engage the learner in a language arts experience. </li></ul><ul><li>Giroux (1997) – “how we understand and come to know ourselves cannot be separated from how we are represented and how we imagine ourselves” (p.15) </li></ul>
The Identity of the Learner <ul><li>Hunsberger brings in the work of Taubman who gives three frames of reference to understanding identity. When the following three frames are taken together, the individual has an ability to create a complete identity: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fictional – comes from stereotypes, perceptions, etc. and leads to objectification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communal - allows for belonging to something greater than the self, but may also have misrepresentations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Autobiographical – allows for an individual to have many “selves” </li></ul></ul>
Lesson 1: <ul><li>Where the Sidewalk Ends , Shel Silverstein </li></ul>Hunsberger uses this poem to develop his classes listening and recall abilities. He makes the lesson more dynamic by including a hands-on component when the children get to stick Band-Aids on themselves. The lesson would be considered a success by many standards. However, Hunsberger realizes a flaw: a lack of cultural relevancy.
Lesson 1: “Where am I in this Poem?” <ul><li>Hunsberger is aware that the relative poverty shared by the learners in his classroom doesn’t allow for the, “scope of ordinary life-experience” that Dewey suggests is necessary. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Unlike the students in his class the character: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>is white (an illustration in the book is of a white child) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Band-Aids are readily available, and the girl is comfortable with “wasting” them. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Additionally, when Hunsberger gave out Band-Aids, they were the color of Caucasian flesh. </li></ul></ul></ul>
Lesson 2: <ul><li>The Black Snowman , Phil Mendez </li></ul>The Black Snowman is the story of two young African-American brothers growing up in poverty. They build a black snowman out of the dirty snow behind their building. They put a cloth, a Kente cloth, on the snowman who comes to life and tells tales of their ancestral courage. The boys become empowered and turn away from being victims.
Lesson 2: Here I am <ul><li>Hunsberger calls upon the work of Shields and notes, when “children feel they belong and find their realities reflected in the curriculum and conversations of schooling, research has demonstrated that they are more engaged in learning and that they experience greater school success.” (Shields, 2004, p.122) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The story accepts the reality of poverty </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It takes ownership of strong emotions, like anger and loyalty </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The story bridges the history with the present with a shared cultural identity </li></ul></ul>
“ Connectedness” and “Experience” <ul><li>“ The character of our teaching, in turn, must include connectedness from which all children will profit and concerted research efforts directed at establishing how best to make connections in the classroom.” – Hunsberger </li></ul><ul><li>“ I have emphasized the need for a sound philosophy of experience.” – (Dewey p. 91) </li></ul>
“ Connectedness” and “Experience” <ul><li>To reach a state of “connectedness,” progressive education in the classroom needs a three part strategy: </li></ul><ul><li>Curriculum – seek new resources for written material </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Anything which can be called a study, whether arithmetic, history, geography, or one of the natural sciences, must be derived from materials which at the outset fall within the scope of ordinary life-experience.” –(Dewey p. 73) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Educator – seek to create a classroom culture that encourages participation by all </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Connectedness is imperative for the students I serve. The poverty that encircles their lives creates a constant barrage of experiences that we seldom discuss or read about in the texts we choose for our literacy instruction.” – Hunsberger </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Learner – agree to connect to the class and become a part of a dynamic setting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Social constructivism thus emphasizes the importance of the learner being actively involved in the learning process, unlike previous educational viewpoints where the responsibility rested with the instructor to teach and where the learner played a passive, receptive role. Von Glasersfeld (1989) emphasizes that learners construct their own understanding and that they do not simply mirror and reflect what they read.” - ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivism_(learning_theory)#Pedagogies_based_on_constructivism) </li></ul></ul>
Where am I in this class? <ul><li>Though finding culturally relevant material seems to be the prescription, the educator also needs to take into consideration the diversity within the classroom environment. How do we “include connectedness from which all children will profit…” when our children are from such varied backgrounds? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we reach Jane, Juanita, Josia, Jaden and Jermaine simultaneously? </li></ul>