Thursday, November 21, 2013

Youth Development Event 

The second event I attended this semester was the Rhode Island College open house for students interested in attending the college next year.  Youth Development is a fairly new major, so it was our first year being a part of this event.  I was able to sit at the Youth Development table and talk to people about this major.  Since it is so new, most people do not know what it is all about.  At our table we were able to explain exactly what Youth Development is.  I think this was an awesome opportunity to advertise and get people talking about this major. 

I really liked being a part of this event.  We are the first students in this major so it's really cool to be able to play a role in developing the program and getting more people involved.  Unfortunately, by the time that I arrived at the table the open house was starting to slow down so I was not able to talk to a lot of people.  For next year, I think it's best to have students go at the beginning that way everyone has a chance to talk to at least one person.  I think it was great that we had a few people behind the table.  It's cool to have each student give their perspective on the major and talk about what they are doing with youth development.  Some of us want to work in an early intervention setting while some, like myself, want to work in a hospital setting.  It's great for prospective students to hear about all the different things that can be done with youth development.  Having the students in the major sit behind the table was perfect. 

This major seems to be really taking off without much advertising. I am excited to see where it will go once more people start to become aware of the program!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How to 'care' for Students

Corinne McKamey's article, Uncovering, and managing unconscious ways of 'looking', talks about her research on educational care.  In this article, the author talks about her struggle to put her own thoughts and emotions aside and simply be a researcher.  However, this was hard because of the assumptions she held as person who grew up in a white, middle-class society.

I found this article really interesting because McKamey's ideas about caring were similar to my own.  I think of a caring teacher as one who gets to know you on a personal level, not just as another student in the class.  When I picture a "caring teacher" I often think of somebody very patient, with a warm smiling and always willing to help. This, however, is not exactly the way that all cultures understand the idea of teacher care. McKamey says that in a Black community, "caring may be viewed as a practice of community building and interdependent reliance".  This is very different from my idea of teacher care and it seems as though I would have had the same struggles understanding this difference.  When you grow up in a community where there is not much diversity, it is hard to understand that not everyone thinks the same way as you do.

I think the points made in this article are very important to be aware of, especially when working with youth and their families.  While growing up my favorite teachers in school were usually the ones that took the time to get to know more about me and tried to build a positive relationship with me.  I still remember my favorite teacher, even though it has been years since I have had her.  She was my fifth grade teacher.  She was everybody's favorite teacher in elementary school.  She took the time to really learn about her students and she understood how each student learned best.  Every morning when we would get to class we had to write in our journals.  It could be about anything we wanted to talk about and the next day we would get them back with the teacher's response.  This was my idea of teacher caring.  For some students or youth of different cultures, this could be meaningless.

McKamey said it best when she stated that "the stories people tell about caring reflect and reveal assumptions that they have about the way the world works".  I think in order to be a positive youth worker that can empower today's youth, you have to understand that everyone has different views of the world.  It may be hard to relate to these views, but I think that understanding and acknowledging that they exist is the key.  Everyone has a different story; that's what makes the world go 'round.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Class and Childrearing 

Kohn's article, Class and Childrearing talks about the differences in how middle-class parents and lower income/working-class parents raise their children.

The article stated that middle-class parents often exposed their children to many different activities so that they could see which ones they liked and which ones they did not.

As stated by Lareau (2009), "For these parents, exposure and choice are linked.  The more varied a child's experiences, the more he or she will be compelled to evaluate "options,"deciding which activities to pursue, which to abandon, and why."

They believe that by doing it this way, their kids learn to make choices on their own and learn to use their voices to "speak up" about what they do and do not like.  They also learn to negotiate with adults. Many middle class parents explain to their children the reasons behind their parenting.  For example, "You can't jump on the bed because you may fall and get hurt". 

The article then states that working class/lower class parents often do not expose their children to as much.  Lareau explains that this is often because these children have more "independent" play time.  They let them pick what activities they like instead of exposing them to many different ones.

"Because their parents did not view life as a series of "teachable moments" ripe for developing their children's reasoning abilities, working-class and poor children were not subjected to the constant indirect manipulation we observed in middle-class families" (Lareau 2009). 

Because of this, the "role" of children is much different in working-class homes than middle-class.  It appears as if middle-class parents see their children as more than just children.  

 "The  result as Bernstein's (1975) work suggests, was a clearer boundary between adult status and child status in working-class and poor homes than in middle-class ones" (Lareau 2009). 

When I took Educational Psychology at RIC, I learned that it is good to expose children to many different activities so that they can learn what they like and do not like. I think that this article is very relevant to all the theories of Youth Development.  We have talked in class about they way that society views children.  They are often seen as incapable, when in fact are full of knowledge and ideas.   I, personally, like the idea of letting children be more independent and having them make their own choices.  As long as there is adult guidance, I see this as a great way for children to learn and grow.

Lareau Article

Friday, November 8, 2013

Central Falls Community Mentor Meeting 

On October 17th, I attended a community mentor meeting at Central Falls High School.  These meetings take place once a month and give mentors an opportunity to learn new skills while working with Youth.

This meeting had five other mentors from the Central Falls community.  Each of these mentors work directly with youth in a variety of different settings.  A few concentrated on theater and drama, while others focused on music and art.  This meeting lasted for an hour and a half.  During this time we all got the opportunity to get to know each other and to make connections.  We also did three different "hands on" activities where we learned different techniques for working with youth.  Each activity was lead by a different mentor and we would debrief after it was completed.

One of my favorite activities was an improv one where we had to partner up with someone and learn how to focus on each other and work together in order to reach a common goal.  It almost acted as a great ice breaker to get everyone comfortable with one another.

I really enjoyed attending this meeting.  It was great to get a chance to know other people who are working and experienced in the Youth Development field and to see their different techniques.  Everyone in the meeting came from different backgrounds, but we were all able to learn from each other.  This meeting truly solidified for me that you never really stop learning.  Even the most experienced mentors were able to take something out of this event.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Context Mapping

Context Mapping is a way in which we understand the different identities that make up a person. A context map maps the behaviors that one encounters on a weekly, or monthly basis.

My context map looks something like this:

RI Sports Club
Running races
Work friends
Youth Development major
Central Falls HS students/teachers 

For this weeks blogpost, we were asked to answer a few questions on the chapter, Identity in Context in Understanding Youth by Michael J. Nakkula and Eric Toshalis.

 In this chapter, Mitch asked Julian to list, on a piece of paper, all the spaces that come into play in his daily life.  He also asks Julian to name what all those spaces or people expect of him.  Lastly, Mitch asked Julian to pay close attention to how he feels when he is in those different spaces.

Identity statues as opposed to developmental stages, "are not necessarily linear.  They describe the dominant issues, concerns, or developmental experiences during a particular era in one's life". (2006)

The four identities described in this chapter are:

Achieved Identity: When an individual has committed to one identity and is no longer exploring others.

Foreclosed Identity: When an individual has committed to a direction in life but has not fully explored or experimented with other directions

Moratorium: When an individual actively explores different roles and beliefs but does not make a commitment to just one.

Diffuse Identity:  When one has not actively explored, considered or committed psychologically to an identity.

I think that I am somewhere between Moratorium and Achieved Identity.  I have a sense of what I want to do with my life and where I want to end up, but I am also still open to exploring other areas.  Right now I am still not sure where life will lead me or where I will end up.  And sometimes there is something exciting about that.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Getting Youth to Talk Back

Today there are so many issues arising that involve youth.  I think it is important for young people to speak about and get involved in making decisions on the issues that involve them.  We've talked in class about how adults often see youth as lazy, trouble makers.  Many assume that young people are not capable of making their own decisions.  I do not think that this is the case at all.  This negative stereotype may be the reason many young people do not get involved.   I believe that youth should be informed and involved. 

There are many ways in which youth can be heard.  While researching this topic, I came across the website below, which I found interesting.  This website is a UK based site, however, the information is still relevant.

I think that youth can get their voices heard by getting involved.  It could even start in school by getting them involved in projects out in the community.  As youth workers, it is our job to empower youth.  By letting them speak out and listening to their ideas, this can be accomplished.  Social media plays a large role in today's society and is often how young people allow themselves to be heard. Adobe Youth is a program designed to help youth be heard by using the media in a way that is going to make an impact.  This program is all about getting youth involved, starting with their own education.  They believe youth should have an active role in their learning processes.  In my opinion, the first place that youth can be heard is in school. 

This topic reminded me of Malala, the inspiring young girl from Pakistan who was shot in the head for fighting for her own education.  She did not want to be held back and stood up for herself and women around the world.  This is a prime example of youth "talking back" and making their voices heard.  By speaking up, Malala has already started creating change for women's rights and she is only 16.  

Youth can make a difference. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Youth Empowerment 

While reading, “A World Where Youth Hold the Power” by Adeola Oredola, I was reminded of the activities we did in class last week on the different youth development ideologies, Positive Youth Development, Critical Youth Development and Risk, Resiliency and Prevention.  Some programs may focus on one or two, however, Youth In Action made me think of all three of these ideologies.  This program encourages positive youth development because students are encouraged to be themselves.  They are empowered and encouraged to speak their minds and be whoever they want to be.  I think that this can be an approach to risk, resiliency and prevention.  Teaching youth to be themselves and be comfortable with who they are is in a way, prevention to me.  They may be less likely to turn to drugs or violence if they have self-esteem.

Youth in the Youth in Action program are also taught that they can make a difference in the community and the world.  They learn to work with adults as a team to make a change.  Adults and youth are considered equals or partners.  This leans towards the critical youth development ideology. 

I loved reading this article because it gave me a different perspective on the importance of family/community.  I never grew up in a struggling community.  I was always encouraged to try my best in school and my teachers and guidance counselors believed in me.  I also grew up with a very supportive family that helped me along the way.  I can’t imagine where I would be today if I didn’t have that support.  This reading really opened my eyes to how helpful these youth development programs can be for students who did not grow up with a supportive family, or community.  They can literally change lives.  I think that it is so important to have a support system, whether it is family, friends or a program like Youth In Action.  Our society values education. If a student does not have a place where they can go for support, or to grow as a person, it makes it almost impossible for them to reach their full potential.   I think that developing programs like Youth in Action are now more important than ever.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Youth Development Ideology  

In class on Friday, we had a long group discussion about the three different ways to view youth development.  There is the Risk, Resiliency and Prevention theory, the positive youth development theory and the critical youth development theory.  All three of these theories are relevant today in Youth Development.  Different programs believe in and focus on different theories.
Risk, Resiliency and Prevention is all about decreasing rates of violence, teen pregnancy and drugs for example.  The belief behind this type of youth development is that teen’s brains are not completely developed yet, so they make bad decisions.  It is a Youth Development professional’s job to work with youth and talk openly about these issues to prevent them from occurring.  I think that this approach is very relevant today as teen pregnancy, drug use and violence is on the rise.

The Critical Youth Development belief is about adults and youth working together to become successful members in the community and the world.  This approach is also about learning to work together with other youth to better themselves and others around them.

In the group I worked with in class, we all really believed in the Positive Youth Development approach.  This approach focuses on building the strengths of youth and empowering them by providing a safe environment.  Programs that follow the Positive Youth Development approach should help youth feel more comfortable in their own skin and help them reach self-actualization.  I think that this approach could really be connected to the Risk, Resiliency and Prevention theory.  Establishing a positive identity, a strong support system and positive peer influence could eliminate some negative behaviors such as drug use and violence towards others.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Nina's Blog: Why do we blog? Blogging is a way to connect to th...

Nina's Blog: Why do we blog? Blogging is a way to connect to th...:

As Nina stated, we blog in order to voice our opinions and allow anyone, anywhere in the world to see.  
Technology is so relevant today and blogging is a great way for people to learn from each other.  I believe that the best learning happens in a group where people are connected. We are constantly connected to those around us because of cell phones, laptops and tablets that blogging just makes sense!

I think that blogging is also a great tool to use in schools, with youth, for many different reasons.  First, it is a great way to get students connected to other students from different schools or different states.  It allows them to visualize the world outside of their city or town.

I think blogging is also a great way to get students more comfortable with technology.  Like with many things, the more you use it, the better you become!  Blogging can also play a large role in enhancing the writing skills of students.  By blogging, they are getting experience with different types of writing.  They are also reading which can play a large role in learning writing techniques.  They can learn from one another by reading and commenting on their classmates blogs.

This blog is my first blog.  At first, I was very apprehensive about the idea of blogging, but I have come to really enjoy it.  I love seeing what other students think about particular readings or topics.  It's a great way to view everyone's thoughts and insights, even those who are on the shy side!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Technology Today

       The article, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, by Marc Prensky was one that I really related to.  I think what the author is saying makes a lot of sense.  Today’s young children are growing up in a world much different than those of their teachers.  They are being raised in a world where technology is so prevalent.  Most of the young kids today can’t even remember a time when they weren’t using technology of some sort.  It is so natural to them; it’s second nature. 
This is even true for my generation.  While I did grow up for a short period without computers and cell phones, I am completely dependent on technology.  When I was 12 my family got our first computer with the Internet.  However, I still entertained myself by playing sports and playing outside more often than turning to technology.
         This article reminded me of an experience I had while volunteering in a first grade classroom.  The teacher was asking the students if anyone knew what the word, “edit” meant.  One student raised his hand and replied, “Yes, that’s when you are writing a text message and you make a mistake so you press the edit button to go back and fix it.”  He was only six years old.  With kids thinking this way, it only makes sense to somehow incorporate what they know and what they can relate to in these lessons.  I think that this will make it easier for them to understand and also will be more entertaining.  I know that when something sparks my interest, it is 100 times easier for me to remember it later on.  Prensky mentions in the article that it is hard for teachers to relate to students when many of them did not grow up in this age.  This reminds me of my own parents.  I guess they could be considered “digital immigrants”.  While they have gotten much more comfortable with technology, it is still does not come easy to them.  They would much rather do things the “old fashioned way” and sometimes have a hard time understanding the benefits of using a computer.  They did not grow up with advanced technology, so it is not always easy for them to relate to me in this way.  And it can also be a source of frustration to them, which I think is true to many people their age.  

     I do believe that as a new generation of teachers is hired, learning is going to change drastically.  We will eventually have a society where everyone has grown up with technology which will in turn have a tremendous effect on the way that students learn.  It will be very interesting to see. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Child Labor Article

In the article, Child Labor and the Social Construction of Childhood, the author, Gwen Sharp argues that the idea of a typical childhood is viewed much differently today than it was before World War II.
The expectations for children today are much different, however, some still believe that there is room for work during the childhood years.  Today there are many laws that protect children from working under a certain age.  However, in the early 1900s, childhood was viewed much differently.  Children often worked long hours in unsafe conditions to help their families.  This often resulted in the children missing school.  In this day, this would be considered outrageous; however, there are certain jobs that our society considers to be “acceptable” for a child.  While the regulations have changed, the debate on the amount of child labor deemed appropriate will continue. 

It's really amazing to look back at how I grew up and how these children grew up.  There really is no comparison.  I never had to worry about the economic well being of my family.  When I was the age of these children, I was playing outside with my friends with not a worry in the world.  I did not get my first job until I was 16 years old and when I did, I only worked a few hours a week.  My job growing up was to do well in school.  I can’t imagine not being able to “choose” what I wanted to do.  My parents always encouraged me to follow my dreams and they worked hard so that I was able to do that. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

My name is Jess Perry and I'm currently a Youth Development major in my last year at Rhode Island College.  This is my fifth year at RIC.  I studied Early Childhood Education/Special Education for the first three years until I made the switch to Youth Development.  I love working with children, especially those with special needs.  I am a lifeguard/swim instructor at my town pool and have instructed many young children in my six years there.

I know that the Youth Development track is the right path for me and I'm excited to see where it will take me after I have graduated from Rhode Island College.  I hope to be able to inspire and better the lives of both the children and families I will work with throughout my career.