Patrick J. Finn: Literacy with an Attitude
“Some minorities feel they have been wronged by mainstream Americans and that “acting white” is a betrayal of their people.”
This quote is really amusing to me. I can completely relate because I’ve felt this way before. I’ve always been compared to my cousins and I never felt like it fit in with them. I remember one of them saying that I “act white” because I was well behaved and I liked school. I wasn’t interested in getting into trouble like many of my cousins. I never associated being well behaved with being white but they did. I was merely following the rules set by my mother. For many years, the thought of not being Spanish enough bothered me. I wish someone could explain what it takes to be Spanish because I honestly don’t know.
So some minorities think speaking a certain way or having certain interests make you less of your race. This doesn’t make sense but I can understand why this is so. I think it has to do with the stereotype that the people that are successful, educated, speak properly, and do the “right” thing are white. These white people are successful and they must be doing something to keep minorities in a place of inferiority. So to act like these white people is like betraying your race. This notion is ridiculous but some people really think this way.
“The literacy they acquired would not be literacy to become better citizens, workers, and Christians as the rich defined those roles for them; it would be literacy to engage in the struggle for justice, This was dangerous literacy”
I'm intrigued by the concept of “dangerous literacy”. It seems inappropriate to put those two words together and that’s probably why it sounds so attractive. The idea of using knowledge to encourage change is not a new idea. When people gain an understanding of the way things are, they can use this information to come up with new ideas and ways of thinking. Some minorities think they have a disadvantage in life. I happen to be one of those minorities. I understand how important literacy is. Literacy allows me to see the injustice and find routes around some of the disadvantages I can’t control. I can only assume the people that would find this to be “dangerous literacy” are the people that have power and want to keep things the way they are.
I often thought of the reading by Kozol. The idea of people in poor areas staying in these poverty stricken areas because there is a system of power keeping them their. Kozol argued with Lawrence Mead because Mead thinks “if poor people behaved rationally, they would seldom be poor for long in the first place”. In this case I slightly agree with Mead when using his theory on literacy. It’s your choice to learn or not to learn. You can only become literate if you’re willing. There are certain acceptations, like not having the tools to learn.
“Teachers are supposed to teach, not blame children for what they don’t know how to do.”
I love this quote. It’s so simple but I feel like it’s kind of powerful. Teachers are supposed to teach. It makes so much sense. I feel like some teachers are give up easily because they don’t understand the students. The whole idea of having a “dialogue” with students was a prime concept in this reading.