My Response to Lindsey’s Mendez v. Westminster Questions

  1. The Mendez v. Westminster case is often referred to as a “story of progress” because many people know it as the case that outlawed segregation in California schools and it was a precursor to Brown v. Board. Although it was progressive, it still did not outlaw segregation entirely, mainly language segregation. This is very important because even after the 10th grade class became known to the real facts to the case, they still had the Mexican Brown v board thought process
  2. Mendez v Westminster is painted as a stepping stone to Brown v. Board while overlooking a lot of the nuanced complexities that the Mendez case deals with. Mexican Americans were unique to the historical framework, rather than just fitting into the usual Civil Rights Black narrative
  3. We as social studies educators must learn that each ethnic group has had a unique experience, and therefore, its own unique discrimination and oppression. The Mexican American experience cannot be clumped together with other racial/ethnic groups. Each group has its own nuance and it is important for us as educators to decipher those and present those nuances to our students
  4. Educators need to bring in evidence that language discrimination was still legal, and that although it was progressive, it really was not a Mexican Brown v. Board. We have to bring in these different perspectives, but more importantly, make sure we have the facts straight before we teach a subject.

Mendez v. Westminster: Questions for Caleb

  1. Many people believe that the Mendez v. Westminster case made segregation illegal, but what segregation did it actually continue to make legal?
  2. What were the excuses that school districts in white affluent communities used to justify the segregation of Mexicans from whites?
  3. How would you use the student responses in this article, as well as your nuanced knowledge of the Mendez case, to break the binary of black and white in your American History classroom? What pedagogy would you use? What materials would yo use?
  4. Without stating that this supreme court case was a “precursor” to Brown, how would you as the teacher make connections between the supreme court cases while also acknowledging they are very different? What activity(s) would you do to facilitate this deeper critical analysis?

Personality Test- What type of teacher does this make me?

My personality type is a Consul. Consuls are extroverts, well-liked, enjoy supporting their friends and loved ones, organizers of social gatherings and they do their best to make sure everyone is happy. Consuls are altruists and like to do the right thing, but also know that people come from different backgrounds and have different perspectives, so we need to take this into account but also what “seems right” isn’t always the absolute truth. They love to be of service to others and like to talk with and support others. They dislike conflict, and also struggle with criticism and disagreement, but know it is a part of life. But most of all, Consuls are role models.

How being a Consul is an advantage to being a social studies teacher. I am a role model for my students. I value different perspectives while also acknowledging absolute truth. I am social and can connect with almost anyone. I am very loyal and will never give up on my students. I have a strong sense of duty so I will not stop until the job of teaching social studies is done to the best of my ability. I am focused on practical skills that my students can use in their own lives outside the classroom. This is very helpful in a social studies classroom.

How being a Consul is a disadvantage to being a social studies teacher. Although I’m a social studies teacher, Consuls care deeply about their social status. This has always been a difficult thing for me as a teacher, I like being liked. But I have been accepting that bettering my students will come at a price, the price of not being liked but being respected at times and perhaps liked later. I am not in this job to make friends, but to foster learning. If students are critical of me, that can be devastating to me. I will want to work tirelessly to make sure their criticisms are heard and acknowledged but in reality as a teacher, I need to be confident in my teaching style. However, this will be difficult in my first couple years teaching when I am still developing my style. I should always hear others criticisms though so I can better myself. Finally I am too selfless, I will want to help every student after school or before school, and this could burn me out. I need to find that balance of helping my students succeed, as well as take care of myself!

Differentiated Classrooms- The Classrooms of the 21st Century

Three teachers: Mr. Appleton, Mrs. Baker, and Ms. Cassell, each have different teaching styles that vary greatly on the spectrum of differentiated classrooms. Beginning with Mr. Appleton, his classroom is not very differentiated at all, his students do the same thing every day, filling out worksheets, answering questions, memorizing facts. He may think his lectures are spiffy and his students are learning, but in reality they are disengaged and are only extrinsically motivated to memorize facts for the test. This is not how the classroom should be. Mrs. Baker is a little more differentiated, but still not quite there yet. She has graphic organizers, allows learning to happen via how Ancient Romans were dressed and what they ate, and she also offers the choice of doing 10 projects. Although this may sound good, she lacks a clear vision of the meaning of the subject with a lack of essential questions. Ms Cassell is a superstar, she has a very differentiated classroom with essential questions, she plans activities that are meaningful, engaging, and powerful, and she also has a classroom where students can walk in the shoes of people in history which is hugely significant.

There is a misconception of what differentiation actually is, is it just throwing in a YouTube video into your PowerPoint or having students work in groups sometimes? Differentiation actually goes deeper than that. Just doing graphic organizers every day instead of normal notes is just as dangerous. In Ms. Cassell’s class she had different ways for students to take notes. Differentiated teachers must ask a range of questions. Data and class instruction must come from a variety of resources. It is very important that curriculum and content standards are still respected and the class is not just fun. “Activities are more about being happy than about making meaning.” Teachers need to entertain but more importantly, educate their students. That cannot be lost as well, or else differentiation will ultimately fail.

Social Responsibility

1. In a few sentences, what (according to the text) is “social responsibility” and why does it take courage to teach social responsibility?

Social Responsibility communicates commitment to live in ways that are personally and globally ethical and caring. It also means being personally invested in the well-being of others and the well-being of the planet. The development of social responsibility is emotional, cognitive, and affiliative. What this means is that it is difficult to teach the emotional side of social responsibility as well as the affiliative side. It also takes courage to teach social responsibility because it can be controversial. Many parents may be critical of the teacher who tells their students they need to feel obligated to help starving children in Ethiopia. Many people would say that is not our problem.

2.In a few sentences… of the “four basic processes that nurture social responsibility”(see page 192), which process(es) do you believe to be most important in forming socially responsible citizens? Explain.

The four principals are caring environments, prosocial and ethical behavior by parents, perspective taking skills that allow them to empathize with those who have faced injustice or been oppressed, and finally is facing injustice and learning effective ways to handle conflict situations. I believe the most important principal is the ability to empathize those who have faced injustice. Often times, a person cannot relate with every instance of injustice, so they are going to have to be willing to put themselves in another person’s shoes which at times, can be very difficult. I do believe having ethical adult figures is very important, but is possible to learn empathy without adult figures (could be difficult), however, empathy is the key to being able to be socially responsible. We cannot feel everything others are feeling, but we can try our best to empathize.

2. In 2-3 few paragraphs… how do different people (who have different values and fundamental understandings of justice, truth, & etc.) disagree about what values to promote and pursue? What do you think about pursuing a common vision when there isn’t a consensus?

There are productive and unproductive ways for different people to disagree on what values to pursue. An unproductive way is to argue people to death and end up hating the other side for disagreeing with your value set. Also, the complete dismissal of the other side as “immoral” “unethical” or “unjust” is simply not helpful in these situations of disagreement. One must have an open mind and be willing to empathize. The productive way to disagree with people who are different than you is to first listen to understand, not reply. Really challenge one self to look through our eyes at the situation, empathize with their viewpoints, and be willing to walk a mile in their shoes. Although there may be a lot of disagreement, perhaps some common ground could be found on some basic values, and this can be built on from there.

Pursuing a common vision without consensus can be dangerous, but at times, it can be necessary. It can be dangerous in the sense that both sides are unhappy, and continuing on will only lead to further divide and anger towards the other side. However, both sides must be willing to compromise and come to some kind of understanding about what the best way forward is. The United States is really struggling with a common vision right now, there is rarely bipartisan legislation, and most votes are along party lines. There is not consensus, so there can be no common vision. When this happens, it furthers divide within a state.

4. In 3-4 paragraphs… offer your own stance: what does it mean to be ethical/moral in a descriptive and normative sense? How have you come to that conclusion/what is that based on?

In terms of descriptive sense, there are many ways in which ethical/moral could be defined or play itself out. In order to describe how things are (descriptive statements) we apply our own ethical lens to that picture. If we believe economic inequality is immoral, than we should be very unhappy with what is happening in the United States, South Africa, and many other countries in the world. Economic inequality is just how the world is right now. If we believe global poverty is immoral, than we should be relieved that global poverty has decreased dramatically in the last 100 years, but we should be angered that it has increased in the last 20 years in Africa.

In terms of normative sense, we also apply our moral/ethical lens to ideas about how the world should be in the future. Back to poverty, if we are passionate about eradicating poverty, than we should, as a global citizen, strive to end global poverty by 2050. We apply our values to our visions of how the world should be in the future. Many people have different values, thus shaping their future perspective of the world. With many people having a different vision, it is hard to have a “common vision” that is a goal for global citizens. We must focus on what unites us, what values we have in common, and build upon those. This can be very difficult with such a diverse set up values and principles, however, it is necessary for the survival of our planet.

I have come to this conclusion based upon the reading and our discussions of morality in class. As the article says, “A Connected relationship with society emerges overtime and through the ongoing dialogue with others” We cannot begin to understand our differences between one another and thus analyze our normative statements about how the world should be without conversation. Honest conversation is the key to ending divide in our nation and in our world.

Response to Classmate Asher’s Discussion question on Night

Asher’s question is:

  1. Elie’s view on God and his religious faith are transformed as he goes through this horrific ordeal. Does his faith strengthen or weaken as he see’s the death around him?


My Response:

Before the German soldiers come, Elie is very religious. He get’s up and prays every morning. Even on the day they would depart from the neighborhood of Singhet, Elie got up extra early so he could pray. But as he begins to see his neighbors being transported, being yelled at by German guards to hurry along, and being stripped of their homes and identities, his religious faith begins to transform. This transformation is epitomized when Elie is in line for the gas chamber.

While Elie is in line to die, he hears his father begin to recite Kaddish, the prayer for the dead. This prayer states, “May His name be celebrated and sanctified.” However, this is when Elie feels a great anger rise within him. He states, “Why should I sanctify His name? The Almighty, the eternal and terrible Master of the Universe, close to be silent. What was there to thank Him for?” This transformation that Elie experiences is a powerful realization for him, and his faith becomes weaker, but just for a moment.

Moments later, as Elie and his father are closer to the gas chamber, he found himself whispering the words of, “May His name be exalted and sanctified,” when his heart is about to burst. Seconds later, they are asked to turn left and are herded to barracks. In the face of death, his faith was revived and was strenghtened when exactly after he recites the prayer, they turn away from the gas chamber. This could have strengthened Elie’s faith because it as if God heard his prayer. And up until page 47, he remains overall optimistic while in Auschwitz.