Final Thought

breakfastclub-bender(this picture is the victorious feeling I have of graduating CSUN since this is my last semester)

THE END IS NIGH! Clearly exaggerating, there is no apocalyptic moment (though graduating is both a relief and scary as I now have no anchor or tether to the non-adult world). Additionally, this class’s (which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed) end has come. I enjoyed the structure of the class tremendously, which is to say I took a lot from the activities and lecture/class discussions. As a culminating, last class of the semester class, students can often get a little burnt or worn out. Especially for those in the Student Teaching/English Degree program, this means we have to teach/plan from scratch and on the fly a nearly full class load on top of the work load in our classes. From what I’ve heard, a lot of the seminar classes are filled with huge research papers and an uncompromising amount of work. I am not saying that this class was “easy” or better because it had less work, but I felt it had the RIGHT amount of work for a class that is idealized with future teachers. I felt I was able to throw myself into the assignments, such as the poem writing (which I thought was very silly at first, but once I got into it I ended up having a lot of fun!).

The group projects were also fantastic, because we got to explore the content of the texts while also interacting in a creative way. It’s funny, the assignment my students enjoyed the most and the one where I felt they actually showed off the best content knowledge was our Google Slide group assignment (one was about Patrick Henry’s Speech in the Virginia Convention and the other was about the film Last of the Mohicans which we studied for in the Light Romanticism unit). I was so impressed with their creativity, and they showed me they understood the content quite well. Plus I think they had fun presenting (it was low stakes on the presentation, just wanted them to get experience being in front and speaking to others). A lot of my students are not the best writers, either low skills, IEPs or are English Learners and while we did have a lot of writing assignments, using a different modality to teach sparked a stronger connection to the class/texts/literature. I felt similar in this class. I enjoyed exploring the text to highlight what content I wanted to explore. I loved showing off my google point/power point skills/creativity. And further, I vastly enjoyed talking in front of others (sorry for doing that in class too much though, as a teacher I’ve worked hard to limit how much I talk and allow a much more student led class). On top of that, I never understood the point of a research paper or a heavy paper for the final culminating class. There are no writing skills that are polarizing, this is to say that either you know how to write at this point or you don’t. The essay format give the opportunity to fine tune, but a huge writing assignment seems redundant and unnecessary (this is coming from the educator prospective, not the student prospective). Additionally, student teachers in this class already have a HUGE research writing project, the PACT. This took a solid month to write and put together, and it’s essentially analyzing EVERY aspect of a lesson in great detail. If you fail the PACT, you fail the course, so it’s a very stressful ordeal. In sum, I thought the modalities of the class (the papers, the group presentations, blogs and poems) were a perfect mix and variety to keep my engaged and challenged throughout the semester without feeling overwhelmed for the sake of being overwhelmed.

On a last note, I thought the use of Film was great as most people enjoy movies and had fun to watch, talk and do a project about it but I have to say (and I know, I’m probably a very, very small minority) I would LOVE something on mythology. Maybe as a side choice, or incorporate somewhere else?  My dream would be to teach a high school Honors class on world mythology, but again, I know I’m in the minority on that. I also did appreciate the focus on teaching, as every activity gave me practical content or skills that I could bring into the classroom ( like the youtube presentation gave me ideas when we read Shakespeare or plays that my students could act out and film). I saved the poem activity we did in class because I thought it was great for my students to use as warm ups when we do a poetry unit. It’s been a blast in this class, going to miss it, but on to the big, bad, fun, great, exciting real world.

Peace Out CSUN,

 

Josh Mandell

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World Text Analysis

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Wrath and Destitution of the Disenfranchised: The Justification of Protest for Wages in the aftermath of Globalization.

Robber Barons. Pinkertons. 15 hour work days. These details bring up a usually a compelling and heartbreaking topic in high school classrooms, the Industrial Revolution in American. Students learn about how abusive company owners could be without any regulation from the government. Some students often inquire as to why morality did not play a larger part, which is to say why did the company owners not do the right thing and choose to abuse their workers? Professors and teachers can discuss the effects of greed, power or go into other philosophical reasoning but the essentials of the time period is how it was not until workers rallied together, put pressure on the government and the companies that the government began to enforce strict laws to protect them. England had similar issues of worker abuse in their large wave of industrialization, as did many western countries. Other countries, such as China, are now experiencing their largest wave of industrialization, due in large part to the globalization of the West. Yet, countries like China have different culture values than Western countries and so Globalization has created a perennial system of Robber Barons in China. The article, “Legal Activism or Class Action” by Pun Ngai and Xu Yi explores the abuse of the Chinese labor force, arguing that the horrors endured by the workers are largely the result of a corrupt, inept and unprepared government that like the God in Deism set the clock of the work force and simply, tragically, walked away. They deem this quality as the “no boss” or “no labor relationship” as there is no system or person who is accountable, unlike Western countries. Western Globalization has therefore become twisted in its echoing or modeling of American and European economic qualities in China, strengthen Yi and Ngai’s argument that the “no boss” and “no labor” relationship is ruining the labor force and abusing workers.

The “no boss” system in China has created an impersonal economic system that eerily reflects a mirrored homage from the American Industrial Revolution. During the Americans time of worker turmoil, company owners often directly intervenes in the lived of their workers, creating a pseudo relationship called Paternalism (illustrated to great horror by George Pullman and his ego to be the controlling “father” of a town he built for his workers). Though this philosophy has diminished from the American landscape, Americans still feel the ripple effects through the direct actions and words of companies. In fact, Randy Martin, author of the article, “Where Did the Future Go?” describes this, writing that,  “Finance is capital for others, the means by which the terms of mutual indebtedness are expanded and put into effect, the medium by which capital nestles and shrivels amidst ever more intricate byways of human association” (Martin). The key word is “ASSOCIATION,” a connection, no matter how perverse. The “no boss” system is the opposite of that, a dissociation or connection between the employers and the human spirit. Is becomes chilling that workers believe, in some cases, that only suicide will result in their demands to be met; their demand to be payed the wages they earned. As Ngai illustrates, when one nameless employer of a construction company held back the wages of the workers, one work stood on top of a large bulldozer threatening suicide and the “Workers from other groups applauded this suggestion and screamed loudly that only a suicide attempt would make the boss listen to them and repay them on the spot” (Ngai 16).

In addition, Ngai points out another scene in which the construction or contracting company did not pay wages and the workers when on strike. Ngai writes, “The workers yelled, “The company cares about customers, but not us!” This drew the attention of the property developer, who put pressure on the construction company to resolve the wage arrears” which highlights that it took property developers intervention to resolve the issue, no branch of government! In fact, the office that the workers went to is a misery of bureaucratic dis-organization that after days of trying to go through the system, the workers again threatened fights, suicide, violence and protests. The neoliberalistic system of China has become cut-off from its workers, and such, created a system of extreme estrangement, an opposing and yet complimentary reflection of Western Globalization.

Lastly, the effects of the “no boss” system and lack of accountability in the economic polies of company/worker relationships have trickled out and affected families not just in the construction industry. In the article, “A Day in the Life of a Muslim Chinese Migrant Family,” author Matt Sheehan describes the dismal effect and correlation that the broken down company/worker relationship has on a family who owns a restaurant. It is less common for Western children to have to drop out of school to help support their families thanks to economic programs and funding, and similarly less common for parents to have to leave their children behind for months on end to support them but this is a common occurrence in China. Not only is child labor more common, so is business migration, moving from building to building because of the unstable climate in infrastructure procedure. Small businesses are one of the cornerstones of American thought, embedded in our American Dream. As long as a business does not directly interfere with a larger force, they are protected, helped within a community and even have such proliferation that shows like “Shark Tank” cater to their ideals. Yet, in China, there is no community built around business, and the family in the article has very little resource to protect themselves from eviction if a construction company decides to enforce their own, “eminent domain”. While there are issues in every countries polices, Ngai’s arguments about the disconnection between the spirit and then man, the breakdown of the worker and the “no boss” demands the attention of the global community, after all, this disconnect is derived from the twisted echoes of Western Globalization.

 

Bibliography

Martin, Randy. “Where Did the Future Go?” Logos Journal. 2006. Print.

Ngai, Pun and Yi, Xu. “Legal Activism or Class Action: The political economy of the ‘no boss’ and ‘no labor relationship’ in China’s construction industry”. China Perspectives. 9-17. 2011/2. Print.

Sheehan, Matt. “A Day in the Life Of a Muslim Chinese Migrant Family”. Huffington Post. December 17, 2014. Print.

11/8 Bad Flu/Almost Pneumonia

imagesThis is a funny graphic of how I felt for most of the week. No one wanted to be around me as I had a bad case of the Flu.

 

290px-Symptoms_of_pneumonia.svg.pngThis was me at the end of the week. Was in the hospital for 8 hours on Thursday. Allllmost had Pneumonia, had all the symptoms but they caught it just in time. WAS NOT FUN. Easily the sickest I’ve been since I was a child (I allllmost had a bone infection which would’ve been nearly fatal. 2 weeks hospitalized and 6 months on crutches as it was in the hip). After taking some meds, was able to continue teaching on Monday and return to all my classes. It’s crazy, I had a 99.9 temperature Sunday-Wednesday leading up to my hospital visit. Not great but somewhat manageable. Taught class somehow. 103 on Thursday!! That is insane! If you ever feel out of breathe when you have the flu, SEE A DOCTOR RIGHT AWAY!

11/1 Finalize and Discuss

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I’m glad we scrapped Hicks. After reading the assigned book, I felt absolutely no emotional attachment to it and did not enjoy. From a teaching prospective, it was a great learning experience as I was able to watch how Professor Wexler handled the situation, as I am sure when I teach I will assign something that the students hate or I didn’t realize wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be and I would want to handle it the same way that Professor Wexler did. Now on the groups! What a solid group meeting! My group members ideas flowed out and we were able to show off our creativity in coming up with ways to explain and interact our “students” (classmates) with something that might seem mundane, different uses of the “slide” programs. I’m even more excited that Professor Wexler seemed really onboard with our ideas, as I was hoping that this literacy project could really help one of our classmates (or professor) by providing them with something they didn’t know that would assist in their own presentations or teaching!

10/25 Group Choice

screen-shot-2015-04-15-at-10-19-41-amMy group formed with relative ease, which made the whole grouping process quite fantastic! Even better, we almost immediately decided on our idea: How to use Powerpoint, Google Slides and Keynote. I thought this would be an extremely relevant topic because even my master teachers do not have a full command of these programs (sorry CT’s! You’re great!). We thought it would be insightful to show off the different ways that one could use these programs in the school stetting, as students now are transitioning away from just writing and are developing presentation skills in middle and high school. The more students become aware of and exposed to, the earlier they can master these skills. In my own college experience, I have presented countless times. I was even lucky enough to share my powerpoint presentation (it was a final project for Dr. Spratt’s class) to a colloquium about community outreach and issues here at CSUN! (there were judges, cookies, and I had to wear a suit. It was a pretty awesome event) This just goes to show how pivotal  these skills are for students and what doors can open when they know it. Plus, I don’t think a lot of CSUN students have that knowledge (heck I’m still learning) so we thought it would be great to help out fellow classmates out.

10/18 Group Presentations Part Duex

zoootpia-box-office-recordI felt that my groups presentation went over solid, we put a lot of time and effort in and the result was fantastic. What I really enjoyed was the other groups presentation on race in the film Zootopia. When I first watched the movie, I remember thinking about the small subtleties of racial ideology in the film, so it was great to see that my thoughts actually were connected to something much larger! I liked how the group presented the racial ideology, with video clips and slides that were detailed but not an overbearing amount of text. The color matched the tone of the film, which I thought important as color connects to how an audience retains information. It was interesting to hear about how the different animals represented different racial dynamics that we see in today’s society, especially with the scene in the ice cream store (where the fox was trying to buy ice cream from elephants) as it highlighted some of the strong anti color racism experienced in America.

10/11: Group Presentations

1450328270-d93e623ca95bf01f078ba900d8cf2851Today was a fascinating class period, as we got to see the fruit of our hard work with group presentations! My group didn’t go, but I was lucky enough to listen to some great presentations and connections in those presentations (Forest Gump, Flowers in the Attic). The one that struck a chord with me is the movie/presentation of Princess Mononoke. This is a movie I love, and I was very curious to see what the group would come up with. The idea of the battling dominant ideologies was fascinating! This movie is filled with messages of environmentalism and humanism, and I liked how the group detailed how most movies have just one dominant ideology by the end of the film, Princess Mononoke had multiple ones at the end, emphasizing that there wasn’t just a single view point that was “right” by the movies end. This adds to depth and complexity of the movie, and as the group pointed out, the depth and complexity of our own society. I also enjoyed the feminist analysis, as this film beautifully depicts complex women who are trying to navigate in a very patriarchal society.