Tuesday, May 1, 2012

homework: literature as a conversation over time

Throughout the year we've been reminded by Shakespeare, Dickens, Plato, Sartre, and many others that some literature never gets old.  The passage of time makes it all the more poignant or insightful. Dickens' London is Occupy's Wall Street. "To be or not to be" will forever be the question.  The hero always embarks on the journey and fights for the forces of love and goodness and light.  And no matter when they were written, or by whom, or even for what purposes, certain texts flip a switch and SPEAK to us in a way that makes us certain that we are no longer alone in our thoughts.

Here is a powerful example.  Last month it was reported that 13 year-old author Jada Williams wrote an essay in response to The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and entered it in a contest. According to this account, "the schools' teachers and administrators were so offended by Williams' essay that they began a campaign of harassment—kicking her out of class and trying to suspend her—that ultimately forced her parents to withdraw her from the school."

Literature may be timeless but technology isn't. We have an opportunity to learn from this moment in ways our predecessors couldn't.  Let's begin a conversation about this online (we'll extend it in class). After you have carefully considered both the coverage of this situation and Ms. Williams' essay, please comment to this post and include the following information:

1. Given what you've learned about the AP Lit/Comp rubric and the evaluative standards we have established in class this year, please analyze Ms. Williams' essay as a response to literature. Begin with what Ms. Williams does well (which, I think you'll agree, is easy to do!) and then note where/how you think her work might be improved. (NOTE: if you find this difficult to do on video, pause it frequently or watch it once to take general thematic notes and go back a second time for details such as diction, syntax etc.)
2. Critique Ms. Williams' arguments. Are her premises true? Are her inferences valid? Does she accurately identify logical fallacies and/or use them herself?
3. Given your own experiences in K-12 education, to what extent does Ms. Williams have a point? Is her perspective unique to a particular race or demographic, or is it valid for students of all backgrounds in schools around the country/world? How would you advise policy leaders, teachers and parents to help young people get the best education possible? What lessons can you take away from Ms. Williams' work that will help you and others on the path to discovery?

 Good Education link here
 

45 comments:

  1. 1. Ms. Williams has good organization throughout her essay as well as insight. It is also convincing and well supported. Her work may be improved by using more mature diction and syntax.
    2. I would say her premises of discrimination in the education system are true even though I am not a witness of it. As far as logical fallacies, I didn’t identify any.
    3. Based on my experience, I am in agreement with her on how teachers brag about the education they have and yet they don’t fully apply themselves to helping their students; that could improve. She does focus on the black race with the discrimination but I think all students of all races can find this applicable. My advice to teachers and parents to help young people get the best education possible is to encourage all different sorts of learning types as every kid will have to remix what they learn to truly understand concepts and to encourage them to not be afraid to ask questions. A lesson I can take away from Ms. Williams’ work is to sacrifice time and effort to things that I truly believe in. She learned a lesson from this novel and applied it to her life and portrayed it in a well-written essay for others to hear her opinions.

    Kayla McCallie
    Period 2

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  2. 1. I believe that Ms. William's has good structure throughout her essay and transitions well into all the parts. However, I think her essay would be vastly imporoved if she included the references to Shakespeare she makes, and uses a wider variety of diction.
    2.Her premises of discrimination in regards to the education system are hard to be validated. I have never myself seen evidence of this so I cannot say that this is true.
    3. I definitely agree with Ms. Williams in the statement that teachers often brag about how much they know but never prove t to their students. It is almost as if they do not care. My advice to teachers would be to listen to their students and come up with different lesson plans and types of learning so they are able to help everyone.

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  3. 1. Ms. William's essay is well structured. She makes her key points very clear without saying too much. Her transitions are also very good. The fact that she talks about the situation first hand makes it that much better as well as impacting. The main thing she needs to work on is her use of diction.
    2. The premises of discrimination that she speaks about sound true to me. Though I have not seen this happen to the extreme she speaks about it seems real. This has happened in other places so it is believable.
    3. From my personal experiences I believe that Ms. Williams is correct that some teachers choose to not help the students they believe are not possible of being educated. Some of the teachers I have had have been like this. The advice I would give to them would be to give everyone an opportunity and to try different methods of teaching because not everyone learns the same way.

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  4. 1. I think the amount of passion she put into this essay makes it compelling to listen to completely. I don't really think she did well in the context of responding to the novel, because she went deeply into her own life and experiences and only referenced the novel at the beginning of her essay. But in the sense of what she was really writing for, which was a demand for passion and acceptance from her teachers, she did well. I feel like it would have helped if she had more concrete, specific examples.
    2. I don't understand why they wouldn't be valid. I don't remember the logical fallacies. She calls out teachers who don't properly teach, assigning things and not equipping the students to do them. She says they brag but do not deliver. At the same time, she uses a lot of name-calling and brings the teachers down with few actual examples and results of what they are doing.
    3. Based off of my own experience, I know what she means about going through school and feeling the busy work wasting all of your time. I think most people understand that the education system seems to be about following rules under the guise of learning. I think the whole environment of the classroom needs to change, and I think that when it comes to the subjects everyone is required to learn, the reasons for that need to be really evident. I think from a young age the student needs to have more power over how and what they learn, with the teachers guiding them. I honestly think people should be able to spend as much or as little time as they want in each class every day, so if you have a lot of energy towards one subject you can go as in-depth as you want for that day. If you use that lenience to avoid subjects you never like and you still succeed, then those subjects weren't necessary. An individual's formal education shouldn't involve something they're half-assing or cheating through, that's not learning, you will absorb nothing, it's a waste of time. I don't really think actual letter grades are necessary either, just lots of communication and heavy critiquing. Those are imperfect, idealistic ideas, but whatever.

    Dannielle Edwards, 3rd

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  5. The fact that she was persecuted so heavily for her opinions and observations is disgusting.

    Dannielle Edwards, 3rd

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  6. 1. Ms. Williams started out with a quote which I always think is a good intro. I like how she used textual examples.. she related her situation to the book she read and really made it her own. My criticism would be be that she didn't tie the novel in enough throughout the essay. She mentioned it in the beginning which was good, but then she went deep into her own life experiences and never really brought the novel back into it.
    2. I think what she says in her essay is totally valid. She is speaking from real life experiences. Teachers who claim to be so well educated will just hand out work and expect it to be done. They don't take the necessary steps or even the extra steps they should in order to make sure their students succeed. She mentioned that the teachers referred to them as "unteachable". Students need their teachers to believe in them not give up on them. That's not showing positive encouragement.
    3. I myself have experienced teachers who take the easy way out all the time. They throw papers at us and tell us when to turn them in. They show no interest in actually helping us succeed. Ms. William's essay did appeal to a more specific demographic but there was validity to her points. Some teachers really do only care about the ones they see potential in and view the other students as difficult or a waist of time. I'm glad she spoke out and stood up for what she believed in, and it was so wrong for the teachers to bully her for saying her opinion.

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  8. 1. I think her essay’s points were phenomenal and observant for being so young. The topic she was writing about really moved her and this is inspiring because you can tell she has a passion for equality and rights. This was not a mere assignment for a grade, but an analysis of how she thought the world should be and why. It was a very clear essay, and it is clear that she is on her way to gaining a command of the English language if she continues on this path and keeps fighting for what she believes in.
    2. I think they are all true because she gave historical evidence and she argued the case of right versus wrong. Like my dad says, right is right is right is right, and wrong is wrong. In this case of situational ethics verse the absolute, this girl is arguing the absolute.
    3. I believe Ms.William’s case of teachers favoring some students over others and not offering equal education or treatment is true. I think what educators can do to change this is try to rid themselves of all biases and not discriminate against a students income, race, orientation, or anything else. They should remember that their only job is to teach and to figure out a way to give all students in their classes an equal shot and level playing field in that area. Ms. Williams actually inspired me because she was able to stay strong in the truth even in the face of adversity.

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  9. Because her school attacked her so violently, it makes me wonder how guilty they actually were.

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  10. Jessica ParraMay 1, 2012 10:43 PM
    1.)Ms. Williams does a great job at conveying a lot of pathos and keeps a consistent strong tone throughout her essay. Using more examples to support her arguments would have made it an even stronger essay. I think that her diction is excellent and above any standards considering she is only thirteen years old. She was very mature about this. I found that to be very impressive. Her deliverance of the essay showed how strongly she felt about this subject.
    2.)I cannot say that what she is saying is not true because I have not personally witnessed this. This is where it would have been helpful to include more detailed examples. However, her argument is still strong and solid. She uses a lot of scapegoating. As far as fallacies, examples would have made them more effective.
    3.)I think that what she is saying is accurate.I am sure that there are plenty of schools where this sort of things take place.This essay is very unique and specific to her race. I am sure that this still applies to all races. This is valid to anyone from anywhere in the world. I think that there is no such thing as someone "unteachable." There are only those who may take a longer time at learning things and those students should be given more attention and time. I truly admire Ms. Williams boldness and courage in writing this essay and speaking her mind. We should all do the same and like she states in her essay, raise questions.

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  11. 1. This is a well written essay. It possesses good and strong support throughout the work. It is not flawless when it comes to diction. All though this was written well overall it needs more variety in word chose. But for her age, I'd say well done.
    2. I can't say that her premises are true or false because I don't feel that I have ever been discriminated against, nor do I know anyone who has been.
    3. I agree,I have had teachers(usually math) who brag about their education, give five minute lectures, and return to their desk. This could be improved if these people tried some other form of effective teaching.

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  12. 1. Ms. William’s essay was very well done. She made very good arguments and showed her audience her connection of the literature to the real world. She expressed her thoughts and opinions in a very well written essay. What she could’ve done better was refer to the novel more and have evidence of how it connects to the points she made about her own life.
    2. Her premises may be true, but all her points and opinions depend on people who have experienced such situations. Her inferences seem very extreme in which I have not experienced or seen myself. If she had examples of this happening in real schools besides her own experience, then it would be a bit more accurate.
    3. Ms. William’s does make a point of some teachers just giving their students the work and don’t really seem to care about their learning. Some of her points are valid for students of all race and backgrounds around the country/world. I would advise policy leaders, teachers and parents to help students on the things they need help on. Have a good relationship in the classroom/home in order for some students to be able to ask and know that they are getting the help they need and also to have different teaching methods. This also relies on the students too because there are many students who do not ask questions when they really don’t understand the lesson. In order for them to get the best education possible they need to use their sources and the people they have around them for help.

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  13. Before I begin my thought process (for a second time) I'd like to point out my resentment towards the use of this blog. I usually have to do the assignment more than once for it to actually post without erasing. That is all.

    1.Miss Williams is able to write a well thought out and developed, opinionated essay. Throughout her essay she makes connections to her personal life and gives input on the novel according to her past experiences and feelings. It is easier for the reader to be able to understand the novel when the writer is able to highlight a connection of themselves to it. She used particular transition words such as "furthermore" helping us identify when she was moving on to her next point or continuing on with the same paragraph. I like the fact that she directly quoted the novel down to the page number and everything. If I'd like to research more on the subject she talked about it'd be great reference. Her thesis statement was not all that clear to me, I understand what the central meaning of her essay was; but I'm not sure I'd be able to pinpoint the exact sentence she used as her thesis statement.

    2.I think it is fair for her to feel the way she feels, however it is a good learning experience for her. She may not have been exposed to such situations herself and finds it shocking that people are such racist. I think she infers too much because of resentment. But at the same time, if you listen to the teachers in the background they are trying to stop her speech so that she will not be able to let her voice be heard. That in itself is a way to prove her point that the "white teachers" (as she calls them) may be making less of the black students.

    3. Personally, as I was growing up I was never outwardly treated as less valuable than the typical white student. I'm not sure if it was because I was at the same level of them knowledge-wise or just because they weren't racist as Miss. Williams thinks of her teachers. It does seem, though, that some teachers are accused daily of discriminating towards colored students and it's sometimes the case. At times it seems like teachers have stopped caring of their students' education since they are already done with their own. In order to improve this situation, I think that the teachers need to think more of a way where students would be intrigued to learn.

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  14. 1. It is hard to believe that Ms. Williams' is only 13 years old. She clearly has read this piece bit by bit, taking enough time to be able to fully analyze every aspect of it. However, it is more of an essay about equality and gaining rights than it is about the novel. My only advice would be to tie the novel in more, mentioning it more often.

    2. I believe that her premises are true. There are times when I think teachers are there merely to earn a paycheck, not because they care about our success. I have a brother who is autistic and in the special education program. He will be in high school next year, and although he will be with other special education kids throughout the day, there are a few classes in which he will be in regular classes. One of these classes will be art, and when my mother came up to the school to help work out his new schedule, she was told that there are certain art teachers who will not deal with special education students at all. I think this goes along with this essay, because if you deem yourself to be an educator, out to help students, you should be willing to help them in any shape or form, not based on their skin color, their disabilities, etc.

    3. I have never personally dealt with this issue, but I am sure there are instances like this that occur all around the world. In order to ensure that these types of problems don't arise, I think that administrators should be more selective in who they bring into the school community to instruct students. Ms. Williams' essay obviously had a big impact, not only in her community, but on a national, possibly even worldly level. This can inspire others to make change and stand up for what is right when they see social injustice.

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  15. 1. Ms. Williams addressed the argument thoroughly and completely. She backs up her evidence with events in history and also her own personal self to defend her claim. This essay is very well written for a thirteen year old girl who didn’t grow up in a strict educational background.
    2. It’s somewhat hard to decide whether or not her premises are true or not. I do believe her and how those teachers treat her. But not all teachers are like that. She’s using majority and the general public to defend her essay. I can see why the ‘white’ teachers want to boot her out of school.
    3. 3. Williams’ perspective—gee, I actually don’t know how to go about this question because I’m not from an African American/black American community so I don’t know… I’m sure she targets white teachers but I can see how this can affect students from all over the world. Let it be Hispanics, Asians, Caucasians—whatever it is, there is racial prejudice all over the world. Williams demonstrated good critical thinking and unfairness as to treatment to others. She’s definitely not the only one who went through this. Others are just hiding in the shadow. Jada Williams had the courage to speak her mind; perhaps one day she will become a public speaker for racial tensions. Who knows?

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  16. 1. Ms. Williams essay is well structured and organized even containing some humor in the first page. I do believe her word choice can be improved to enhance the flow and transitions of the various arguments pointed out.
    2. She borders on the ad hominem fallacy a lot in her argument but I do believe that she has supported her thesis with enough evidence as to make sure her paper is attacking the school system and not the actual teachers themselves in any condescending or bitter method. Her premises are only half correct because her school district and her set of teachers are not a large enough sampling of teachers to be able to apply this to the nation. If however she was intending to create change that particular school district, I do believe her premise and argument would be true because her sample of teachers would be large enough to be a representation of that group.
    3. Ms. Williams is correct that slowly the school system is being transformed into a place where teachers and students alike no longer care and that no one is receiving a true education. This is true for all students living in the U.S. What I would recommend teachers, parents, and policy makers to do is instead of beating us over the head with up to 10 heavy tests a year depending if you are in advanced placement, taking the SAT, ACT, or both, a high school exit exam and of course the ever prevalent STAR testing, they should give us a chance and allow us to become excited and adventurous in our education. That way, the glass ceiling will be shattered and while others may decide to sink, the cream of the crop will be able to soar and learn freed from those who truly do not care about education. There is so much more potential when you give education and give the resources to the kids who actually want it. We could even witness the change of a great new era if the eager sponge like minds of the intellectuals were fully able to dip our minds into the information rich world we live in today. Cancer, war, famine, disease, major dispute and substance addiction may all be cured if the policy makers, teachers, and parents would help us to our full potential. As far as taking something to take away from Ms. Williams’ speech, fight for your education, fight for your cause lest it be taken away from you because it will if you don’t.

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  17. 1.Williams' wrote a well thought out and developed essay with good structure and organization. Her use of her own personal life experiences draw more to her essay and makes it more indepth and from the heart.

    2.I personally have never experienced discrimination in the school system so I can not say if what she says is true or not, however her essay makes me believe there is a problem and it must be stopped. Also, I have read The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and I can see where she gets her support and ideas from the novel.

    3.There are teachers out there that show no interest in the experience we students receive and not caring if their students fail or succeed. There are teachers that stereotype students and make judgements about them before they have a chance to prove themselves. I don't see a clear way of fixing this problem, but everyone should respect everyone else and not stereotype each other. Teachers and faculty should treat students as the young adults we are, and students should in return treat Teachers and faculty as mentors and with respect for choosing a career to better help students.

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  18. 1. In my opinion, Ms. Williams wrote a very interesting essay. She had a great use of diction for being her age. The structure in which she wrote the essay was great in the way that it flowed very well. She had very great arguments and with her use of tone, she was successful in pointing out everything she was trying to let the reader know. The only thing Ms. Williams may have needed to work on would be adding more detail or evidence to support her arguments.
    2. I think that Ms. William's premises may be true though I have not been a witness of any such thing. In that, she should've used more evidence so that she'd be able to make her essay sound more valid.
    3. Throughout all my years of school I have never been in a situation where I was treated with less value because of my ethnicity or have I ever seen anyone else in that situation. I do think that there are some teachers who easily give up on students when they are difficult to teach or they just don't try. Teachers should focus on all students equally.

    Marisol Zepeda
    Period 6

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  20. 1. The essay is well structured and well organized. The writer did a good job at supporting her essay with evidence and the thought process is easily visible. The way she speaks of her sources shows she has analyzed well through. Which brings it all together and flows with her ideas.

    2. I believe her premises of discrimination are quite valid. Although many may make it seem as if discrimination is not seen or used anymore it is still out there. Many choose to turn their heads and pretend it is not there. The evidence she uses as far as history makes her points even stronger.

    3. I personally don't believe I have dealt with this situation as deeply as she has described it. But there may be many who disagree. It ask depend on the situation of where you stand...if you're the one discriminating or vice versa

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  21. I clicked on two links and I got Error 404... But I did my best.

    1.) I believe that she organized her essay very well, and obviously she had a lot of good ideas and thoughts. I am impressed that she is in 8th grade and wrote an essay like that with the observations she made by herself. Perhaps she could have used more responses to her examples. (I LOVE hearing people in the crowd saying, "Yeah." "That's right!" "Mhm, come on!". It's so great.)

    2.) For being so young and being able to noticed those small details that the teachers do or don't do, I can't help but think that it has been happening a lot which makes it seem like it's true and valid. I did not notice any fallacies except for some here-say by saying what teachers said and things like that, but I doubt she lied about it.

    3.) I can see where she is coming from and I agree that this school system just does not work anymore. We DO need a change. We can not wait for Superman, we ARE Superman. We need students like Ms. Williams to bring light to the situation. "The fight chose her." This could not be more true, she is a student that recognizes the fact that there is corruption and inequality in the education system that we need to take care of.

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  22. 1. I think Ms. Williams could have strengthened her essay by using more examples. This would leave more support for her arguments. This was a very well written essay.
    2. I think her presmises may be true, but they are specifically from someone who has experienced such things. I have never experienced this so I have not valid answer.
    3. I can agree when she says that teachers choose to not help and teach students, they feel aren't capable of educated. That isn't their choice, nor is it what they are getting paid for. My advice would be to try out different methods of teaching, and try to get involved with your students to find out what their weaknesses are and bring them up.

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  23. 1. Obviously, the girl was above the level of most 8th graders and her essay had an important theme that most others wouldn't have thought out, but of course it could've been better (everything has the option to be better). If she had added in examples from the text and real life observations. Also, more of her own responses.

    2. We cannot /know/ what someone else is thinking but the girl was able to observe and infer as to what her teacher's really viewed certain students as. It might have some fallacies in the way where she didn't exactly ask the teachers if that's what they thought and it's only one side to the story, but if it was happening so much that an 8th grader picked up on it, it must at least have some truth to it.

    3. I do believe that her point is valid to a certain extent and we do need a change. But we must implement that change ourselves, with the help and strength of others. Her essay applied to a certain demographic, but it also is a valid point and can apply to all demographics. We need to better the system and it will take the willpower of everyone to actually make it come true.

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  24. 1. Jada Williams clearly was very passionate about her topic and was able to easily convey her message through her essay. It was full of topics and suggestions and was rather thorough. The tone and diction used was excellent and beyond her years. Although, this essay didn't seem very much about the novel, but more about her feelings towards the education system; maybe she should have stuck to the prompt a bit more.

    2. I feel like a lot of her arguments were opinionated and extremely biased from her personal experiences. This does not mean there are no qualified teachers that did not barely get a degree, just as I am sure there are teachers who sincerely care about their students and want them to succeed. I feel like she did point out a lot of flaws in the educational system, but there were, again, biased. Yet you can't argue that some of her arguments are invalid, seeing as I have also experienced the setting of having teachers who don't care and judge their students.

    3. William's experience in school is probably biased to race and where she lives. For example, I'm going to have to assume the schools in Malibu are greatly contrasting to those in Compton. I think policy leaders, teachers, etc. can help young people get the best education possible by talking to the young people, rather than assuming they know what they need and what will work. I think her work emphasized that you should "be the change you wish to see in this world".

    Dania Hatamleh
    Period Four

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  25. 1. What I really admired was the application of a precise thesis and the supporting of that thesis throughout the essay. If an essay has that down then theyre at least going somewhere, half the students in our own grade level cant seem to follow that formula. If we're examining this as a response to literature essay however I would have preferred to see more textual support from the narrative rather than just cutting out a sliver and essentially ranting off of that. It was however recited in quite the spoken word environment so I suppose opinionated content was appropriate.
    2.I cant say for certain whether or not her arguments are valid being that Im not aware of the situation in what I can only assume are inner city schools. The extent of my inner city schooling consists of various teacher flicks with Morgan Freeman, Matthew Perry, another I can't remember as well as the essay of Ms.Williams which I must say has too large of an appeal to ethos for me to take as solely fact.
    3. Maybe its just because Im pretty white myself and I like to think such a way of thinking is outdated in modern education, but I believe that alot of the angst from Ms.Williams is wrongly directed. I don't believe in a black panther inspired Man-like figure that is "out to get" the black and brown students in the inner city, intentionally withholding education in a similar manner slave owners did in the 19th century. I believe many variables can be factored in to the evidently miseducated students of these schools centered around a flawed teaching method, however is not limited to such factors as home-life, economic conditions and environmental factors associated with inner city life. I believe Miss Williams should direct her energy at the real core of the problem which is the poor educational system in those districts rather than the question of whether the school board is run by confederate antebellum nostalgia junkies, which really isnt the real issue. Just because there is a white teacher and a failing class who happens to be of color make it an issue of race. Some time ago there happened to be an exodus of freed African Americans into the cities to find work so there is a reason that 150 years later a class will be full of colored students in such a densely minority populated area. Angst is certainly well deserved in such a problematic situation, however it needs to be directed at fixing the problem which is the quality of the education itself, no matter what color the person its being directed towards.

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  27. 1) Ms. Williams first of all did a great job at stating her opinions in a well organized essay. Her structure and diction were both strong and easy to understand. She started off with a strong introduction and thesis and followed through with it throughout the entire essay. She also supported her ideas with text and quotes. That made her essay even stronger. Given that she is only 13, it’s understandable that there were a few mistakes. For example when she says, “so so so..”
    2) I noticed Ms. Williams was very biased. She only supported her point and made the teachers seem like the villains. I believe her arguments were right, but there is another side to any story. She used the appropriate materials to support her argument. Ms. Williams knew exactly who her audience was and made sure she kept them interested in the entire essay.
    3) Being a Mexican American, I can connect with her in a way. Based on my experience in K-12 education, I could say Ms. Williams has a point. There are still many teachers around which carry around that same old discrimination in their hearts. They might not discriminate a student directly by calling them names, but at times they do sabotage their grades and learning; they tend to give up on them. Her perspective is valid for students of all backgrounds in schools around the country/world. The biggest lesson I took away from Ms. Williams’ work that will help me in my future is to never be afraid to speak up. Ms. Williams is still very young and had the cuts to speak “the truth.” She is the perfect example for students to question everything and give their opinions and thoughts on any matter.

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  29. 1. Well, the first thing I noticed (partly because it was the first thing she said) was she threw in textual examples. Always good. But the next glaring issue is that, even though she did use textual examples she kind of faded from the novel itself into her own life experiences. There isn't anything wrong with that, but when the entire focus of the essay goes from the novel to the trials and tribulations of your own life then you've got a completely different paper. With that being said, her opinions were clear and well stated. With plenty of support to back them. (At least the audience seemed to agree...well most of them)
    2. I'm not personally familiar with the structure of the school districts where she is from, sooooooo is her report accurate? Judging from the fact that they kicked her keister out of there, probably. Going off that assumption then yes her argument is completely valid.
    3. I has had the bestest teechrs evr! They teached me how to talk reel good. And they wood always giv me candy wen I did a good job! Sumtimes I gots to peeses! ......





    *rrhmm* Ok anyway from my experiences in school I learned you have to take the good with the bad. Ever so often you get that teacher who truly knows how to motivate kids to learn and excel. Or the teacher that can skillfully interweave the lessons into fun activities. On the other side of the coin, there are the teachers who seem to just hate life. You walk into their class and they had you a paper and a scowl. Then sit in silent depression as the class goes to hell. Ms. Williams does indeed have a point. Hopefully the negligence of some teachers can be chalked up to the ''I hate life'' mindset. But more often then not it is some kind of mental bias towards the child. Whether thats because of their race, or any other reason they can think of. If given the opportunity I would sit down every teacher and say ''Listen, I know you aren't going to like every child that walks through your door. Thats a given. But your own selfish reasons are no excuse to deny a child the best education possible. Now I know what your thinking. You're thinking, 'But Matt! Sooooooome kids don't care about they're education! They just sit around in my class and do stupid stuff blah blah blah blah blah blah *nnnghfffffffff*' Yeah ok there are those kinds of kids in the world! But I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about the kids who WANT to know more and succeed but can't because of negligent or discriminant teachers! I'm looking at you Mr. MacCarthy! My point is, get off your high horse and teach. NOW GO FORTH!!!!''

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  30. 1. For being so young, her essay had so many strong points that were honest and real. She had a great perspective stand point that was backed up by important quotes or personal experiences, which added to the deep emotion that the essay conveyed. Because she is only in 8th grade, it's understandable that her diction and syntax were not at a higher level. But for what it's worth, the exact wording doesn't matter; her theme came across as a very powerful message and her overall thought process was completely clear. Just a few diction changes and she would be a flawless writer with an impressive opinion background.

    2. Because I've never seen or experienced her arguments hands on, I can't personally critique on whether she is right or wrong. I can say, though, based on the information she provided throughout her essay and the news articles as support, her arguments were valid and truthful. If someone has the nerve to teach or act that way and follow it up with kicking her out of school, there must be some sort of problem there.

    3. I believe, as a student, teachers do sometimes cut kids off from a full education. Teachers are the ones who create a lesson plan filled with lectures and assignments they believe are necessary to the course. They never really weigh in to what the students' personal education goals are. Even though teachers are technically the guide to the class, that guidance can be biased based on what the teacher thinks is right or wrong. As Matt claims before, some kids say they don't care about their education, so why bother? Maybe it's because they (like the rest of us) need that extra bit of help in a certain subject area we're confused about. Teachers, school advisors, and others can help better our education process by letting us be open about our strengths and weaknesses. Most classes and teachers assume it's a "one size fits all" kind of situation when, in fact, different students understand different things. Ms. Williams's essay made me realize that if I do feel the need to speak up over an issue, I should just say what I need to say. It's worth the risk to get my opinion out there if I need help. We need to not be afraid of the consequences when it comes to questioning things we may not agree with. It's okay to have a voice and say what you feel. Nothing will change if you don't speak up.

    -Kelly Brickey, Period 3

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  31. 1.) I thought Ms. Williams' essay was very well written and neatly organized with very few grammatical errors. I also thought her range of vocabulary was great for someone her age. And, good for her for remembering the textual examples. =)

    2)I think her arguments have a certain amount of validity, although they seemed to be a bit exagerated. I think her essay was more filled with charged language (which is well enough for a persuasive essay that is meant to be read with conviction), than it was with hard eivdence to support her arguments. Her case is a unique and unfortunate one, to have teachers that were so offended by what she said, and unwilling to recognize their own shortcomings and failures as educators, that they harrassed her until she couldn't stay in that environment anymore. However, in four years of highschool, I myself have been to three different schools in three different cities in two different states on opposite sides of the country. Teachers don't just automatically target students from one specific race all the time. I myself have been overlooked and dismissed as a bad learner because I'm from a small town in Ohio.

    3) Like I said, I've been to three different schools and have had a lot of different teachers. I've been fortunate enough to have a long line of amazing teachers: some that absolutely love their jobs, and some that are amazing at what they do and make it easy to learn, and others that are outstanding people that encourage and nurture their students. But, there are good teachers as well as bad ones that got into teaching for all the wrong reasons, and after a few years have passed, they realize teaching wasn't what they thought it would be, and they come to resent the children their supposed to be molding into well educated adults. They wave their teaching credentials around, showing the world that they've achieved something. Then, when it comes down to it, they can't be bothered to teach or even grade the assignments we turned in. How else could someone that never turns in anything (this girl right here) still have an A average in an AP Government class? The teachers like that will never admit they were wrong, either. That's just the way of the world. And again, teachers don't dismiss children with different ethnic backgrounds. It happens to all of us for different reasons. To certain teachers, I'd ask them to do their jobs. Get up from your desk and teach us. Don't just read us what you've written on the board once every other week. We have eyes. We can read for ourselves. To other teachers, I'd ask them to not just talk the talk, but actually make themselves available to kids that need some extra help, and show that they deserve to be teachers, that they're qualified to have our young minds in their hands. Don't just dismiss a student as a lost cause. To my fellow classmates, I'd say that if the teacher isn't delivering the goods, we have the technology to educate ourselve.

    -and that's all I have to say about that

    Marissa Tajalle
    P.2

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  32. 1. What I liked most about Ms. Williams' essay was that she gave an example for every statement she made. Her thesis was very clear, and her tone helped convey that thesis. I liked how her essay in the beginning was told in a story like format, it allowed me to see her logic and gave good structure to the essay. Something she could have done better was to give more excerpts from the novel, and not as much detail about her real life experiences. She even stated,"The one passage I would like to focus on..."
    2. One of Ms. Williams inferences that I don't think is valid is her generalization. Although she has experienced uncaring, discriminating teachers, not all "white teachers" are like that. They way she wrote her essay made it sound like every white teacher is in the wrong.
    3. From my experience, I believe Ms. Williams ideas about discriminating teachers are correct. I have witnessed some teachers that choose not to give their time to a particular student based on their racial judgments about what they feel that student is capable of. I would advise teachers to never judge a book by its cover, and give every student the same attention. Some lessons I can take away are teaches can discriminate against you for a variety of reasons, but you should never let that stop you from learning and trying your best.

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  33. 1. What really stood out in her essay was the type of comments and specific texts she cose to take out of the book. This heightned the visuality and perspective she had on what the book was all about. In which African-Americans were being descriminated in school.She had great diction and her essay flowed from an textual exapmle to her comments about it. What she could have improved on was noting that not all teachers and class curriculms are alike. She seemed to make out that all teachers were white and they all purposely intended for African-American students to fail.
    2.Ms.Williams pointed out only her side of the story and made things seem like every teacher was purposely trying to inflict on African-Americans. She made the teachers seemlike they were the antagonists in the story. Especially when she made comments about giving them a handout and expecting them to understand it. What she didn't mention though was that this was given to all not just African-American students.
    3.I can't say I could relate to Ms. Williams because I never felt descrination by any teachers in my grade school days. Most teachers have left behind the past and thinking less of those students who weren't "white". I believe that there are inconguities aout there though about teachers who haven't let go of the past and still carry the same attitude as was done in the past. I learned from Ms. Williams that even younger children can percieve when there is racism and that some of theses kids are willing to takea chance and speak out. More students should express their feelings and point of view on school subjects becausde they are the ones learning and it is affecting them.

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  34. 1. Ms. Williams essay was well structured and very clear. Her thoughts were very well supported with examples of all kinds. This allowed the reader to not only understand what she is trying to get across, but it paints a mental picture as well. The main idea of the work was very clear and, although her diction and syntax were fairly immature (as a result of age, I'm assuming), the theme, support, and perspective were intriguing and moving.
    2. The accuracy if Ms. Williams' accounts can be questioned. Not being from her school district, it's hard for me to say whether they are true or not. However, if what she said was happening had such a large effect on her, I don't imagine the accounts are false.
    3. I personally have not felt the discrimination felt by Ms. Williams, but I can understand how it would affect her education. I have noticed the attitude of some teachers, acting like their education gives them the right to look down on students while not backing up their academic claims with much, if any, actual teaching. Ms. Williams' essay enlightened me on the fact that some people are still stuck in the past, in an age of discrimmination and racism. However, I would like to think that the work of people such as Ms. Williams is actually changing that.

    Shannon Fahey
    Period 4

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  35. 1. I think that Ms. Williams put a lot of effort into this essay because the topic was close to her. She felt compelled to stand up and do something. However she only really talked about the novel in the beginning of her essay then went on to the issues that were bothering her. She should’ve tied the novel in throughout the essay.
    2. I think that she does have valuable points as well as inferences. The only points were when she included quotes from teachers, because it’s hard to say as to whether those are true or not. When she brings up the history though, that strengthens her argument.
    3. I have never had to experience what Ms. Williams is talking about. I have been fortunate in that sense. Her perspective is valid for students of all backgrounds in school around the world. It isn’t hurting any single race or demographic. I would advise people to get the best education by telling them to be involved in what they are doing. Put your best efforts into it and see what you get out of it. Lessons that I can take away from it are to always perform at 100% in order to get the most out of my education.

    Period 4
    Mitchell Edmondson

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  36. 1.Ms. Williams’ essay flows well together and she put a lot of thought into the essay. But, she needs more supporting facts; she talked about her own life. The essay would have been better if she focused on the examples, not on her own life and experiences.
    2.I think they aren’t valid. Williams talks about how teachers do not actually teach, well who do not teach the correct way. She gives examples of the teachers doing bad and the results from what they have done.
    3.In my own experience, I remember thinking, “why do we have to do this?” or “how is this supposed to help me in the future?” I thought teachers made us do something just to keep us, students, busy; busy work. I remember doing what I was suppose to be doing. Today, teachers pick out their favorite and sometimes it is visible how they favorite. The teachers that do have their favorites should not make it visible and at least they should try to treat all the students the same. Adults treat high school students as if they are still children. Just because some students are childish, doesn’t mean that all high school students act like children.
    Chelsey Soriano
    Period #3

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  37. 1. Ms. Williams essay was very well written and I'm impressed that she is only 13 years old. She did a good job in providing examples for the points that she presented. It seemed like she really cared about the topic and her essay had a really nice flow to it. The diction and syntax she used was years passed her actually age. Overall it was a very good essay and I think she would have received an appropriate grade on the Ap test. Some things she could work on are using examples from the story, but other then that I was impressed.
    2. Ms. Williams does give examples to explain her argument, so I feel that her argument is valid. She felt that she was being discriminated against and me not personally being of it, it's hard to believe that this isn't true.
    3. Through my experiences, I haven't had to deal with any teaches like this. I feel that discrimination is always out there in the world and this can happen to anyone. I am fortunate enough not to have this happen to me, but feel for the people it does happen too.

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  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  39. 1. Ms. William's easy was beautifully written and had good diction. However, I think she needed to focus less on her own life experiences and added more textual examples because her prompt was about the novel.
    2. I feel Ms. William's was too broad on her classifications of "white teachers." From this essay we only get her side of the story and her experiences. Although she brings in a few historic references, that's not enough to convince me that all of her claims are true.
    3.In my opinion discrimination is everywhere and unfortunately some students are going to deal with it directly in their lives. Luckily I have never witnesses, nor experienced first hand this kind of prejudice in my years of academics. If I was in Ms. William's shoes I would fight for my education and work one hundred percent for a good education because that's what everyone deserves.

    Kelli Carrillo
    p.3

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  40. 1.) The essay Ms. Williams wrote was beyond her years I thought. Excellently written, well structured with diction. Her message was on point and got the reader's attention. The thing I would say to work on was the text support examples and better syntax, even though she did as best as a 13 year old could.
    2.) There are always two sides to every story, I believe Ms. Williams arguments do have some truth to them since she gave valid examples and information, in her situation though I question to believe the reason being racial discrimination. Personally I've never witnessed racial discrimination on a school basis, I have however had teachers before that seem like they just don't put much effort into really teaching their students.
    2. Are her premises true? Are her inferences valid? Does she accurately identify logical fallacies and/or use them herself?
    3. We may not see it all the time, but even today in 2012 discrimination is still going on every day. I have witnessed it, and it's sickening to see that some people in our generation actually accumulate to that disgusting level.
    Her perspective is valid for students of all backgrounds in schools around the world. I would advise teachers and parents to help young people get the best education possible by supporting them, encouraging them to do their best and better, if they have a question answer it the best way you can. The lessons I can take away from Ms. William's is do what you believe in and fight for it, especially my education.

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  41. 1. It flows very well as a whole bringing out examples from text to show historically what went on. There is no set data by which the things she said about having teachers be biased could be validated as true.
    2. Where I come from I don’t see any real bias towards students but I do notice that if a student has no sense initiative to get something done most student will not do that activity. What she may be experiencing with her teachers is that they have come to the conclusion that trying to help the students learn for the sake of learning has no benefit to the more intelligent students with an already set idea of what they need to do. It seems to me that where she comes from is overcrowded and teachers are frustrated with the addition of a student who is trying to better he education as well as the education of others. Though the racial bias does anger me that she thinks color is the cause of the problems which it may be but I am saddened by the reality that race is still an issue. I have read most of the articles posted about Ms. Williams’ and now understand what she has dealt with and no longer feel her points were at all off point.
    3. At some point things need to get better for people of all races because it’s not just the Blacks, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans that are getting the short end of the stick in schooling. It’s society as a whole that is receiving less than par service in the public school system. The sad truth to all of this is that there is so much that is asked of teachers they are not all able to brake their backs in every which way, it has becoming increasingly difficult for them to cater to all the students they are given. They get 40 kids in a class and have to teach to each and every level of student they have. The smart kids get it the worst because most of the time they only teach to the middle level and slower students in preparation to get them at the higher level. If there were schools with a class for each type of student it would be beneficial to the students and society as a whole because then everyone would receive the help they need. As great as it would be to have it’s not possible because of all the crap about being polite to everybody and how no one is different but in reality people are different and not everyone is going to get into Harvard or Yale. Having the government step in to set up schools that way would get more from the students. Or one way of approaching things is based off of how each student learns because that plays a hug part in how students attain/retain knowledge. Classes based off of the basis of how kids comprehend knowledge would enhance the US we would have such highly intelligent kids if they could learn in their classes how they learn best.

    Isaac De La Cruz
    Period 2

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  42. 1. The essay was captivating and very well structured. It effectively used one great man's work and ideas to show the injustices that she saw in out own time, and that in itself is impressive. Most students do not read a work like this and see that they may be going through a similar thing, they think that is history, and now in this age not relevant any longer. The word choice and sentence structure were also very interesting.
    2. I feel as though in her situation her arguments are true, though I've never experienced them first hand. I find her influences interesting and to be very effective. I'm having trouble seeing her fallacy besides the comparison to the book.
    3. I personally have not seen these sorts of racially driven discrimination, nor discrimination in really any other way. Except for once when a teacher thought my mother didn't have a college degree and talked down to her and used that as an arguing point, but that lady was found to be wrong on more than one of her prerequisite thoughts. I think that their could be more regulations put into place to prevent this sort of thing.

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  43. She has a very rigid, traditional, and principled writing style that gets her point across concisely, and simplistically. Not entirely to the prompt, but her thesis was much, much better than what they had wanted originally. And regarding education, of course it's system is racist, biased, and prejudiced. It's outdated and built in the wrong era. Even if indirectly being characterized by the previous list of the last sentence, the system is unbalanced to its entire demographic. And that needs to change. Everyone needs education, that much is apparent and for the most part handled, unfortunately its not equally distributed. And if there were ever anything that needed to be equally distributed, it would be the right and access to a solid education.

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  44. 1)As a response to literature, I would say that her essay goes a bit off topic. I believe that her structure, diction and syntax all flow nicely and come across as very educated. I was impressed by her textual examples and her own commentary. Both were very insightful.
    2)Although I have not experienced the things she mentions to that extent I have seem small instances of it and believe it to be very possible. Therefore, I believe her arguments are true and valid. They did happen to her personally so she saw first hand. There will always be less than perfect teachers and I can't say that I can rule out what happened to her as impossible.
    3)I agree with her and do believe that some teachers do not help students. I have never been racially discriminated against but there are many things wrong with the system. Some are not willing and others don't like to be questioned. Sometimes the smart students get more attention but other times the less focused get all the attention because they require more guidance. Sometimes the teachers expect you to be at a certain level but are not willing to help you get there. I also think that some teachers think that they are above everyone.

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  45. 1.Ms. Williams is a very special young lady. She Is what my family would call an "old soul". Her knowledge is way beyond her years and that is clearly seen through her writing. Her essay was very powerful and had the ability to arouse a reaction out of each and every individual who read or listened to it. Her work Could use an improvement in the diction aspect. Although she does have a mature vocabulary, there were parts of her essay where you sense her innocence and youth . For example she says "..so so so so soo.." expressing the importance and power of the point she's trying to make. But with more experience and knowledge this problem can be easily fixed.
    2. The evidence and situations she uses are extremely valid in my opinion. She uses her own experiences to incorporate a personal touch to her essay. Even though I have personally never dealt with racists teachers or any bias towards me directly , my father and other members of my dads family have told me stories of there childhoods and the racism they've dealt with growing up. I feel so fortunate that I didn't have to go through what they have but at the same time I understand that this type of racism occurs daily across the country. I do not believe ms Williams was off point or topic.
    3. Ms Williams definitely has a point. Teachers all over the world brag and boast about their credentials, when in reality they are By no means fully involved with their students. I think her point is valid to students all around the world. I would advise teachers to listen and treat each and every one of their students with respect just as they expect from their students. The point I can take away from her essay is to always treat my peers as equals and to discriminate against no one ! It is not right to show hatred against anyone especially because of their background or the color of their skin. Take a stand... If you feel as if you are being treated unfairly or discriminated against, speak out and let your voices be heard ..

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