Sunday, April 10, 2011

Patrick J. Finn's “Literacy With An Attitude”

This week’s post is based on Patrick J. Finn's “Literacy With An Attitude. Given the title, I thought the author was trying to make literacy feel cool. Man, was I off by a mile. In the first few chapters, Finn goes into detail about why he chose this title and it's more about literacy that challenges the status quo. “The status quo is the status quo because people who have the power to make changes are comfortable with the way things are. It takes energy to make changes, and the energy must come from the people who will benefit from the change.” Finn wants there to be radical changes and even though his ideas are undeniable, change doesn’t come easy.
Finn wants to demonstrate the inequality in the education of the privileged and the unprivileged. In chapter 2, Finn draws from Jean Anyon's study, which explores class differences in elementary schools. The study looks at four different kinds of schools. These school were categorized as "affluent professional", "executive elite", working-class, and middle-class. Finn effectively illustrates examples of how middle-class and lower income students are not receiving the same education as the upper-class students. In the working-class school, emphasis is placed on respect and remembering what is taught. “For example, one teacher led the students through a series of steps to draw a one-inch grid on their paper without telling them what they were making or what it was for. When a girl realized what they were making and said she had a faster way to do it, the teacher answered, "No you don't. You don't even know what I'm making yet. Do it this way or it's wrong.”” In the middle-class school, getting the right answer and following directions are emphasized, and doing well in school would lead you to a decent job. “Answers were words, sentences, numbers, facts, and dates. You could not make them up.” I think Finn wants society, particularly educators, to be aware of the gaps.
I feel it's not right for educators to simply help students read words on a page and nothing more. It's our job to ensure that students not only can read the words, but know what they mean and how to use them. What do you think?


  1. I thought about the last thing you brought up last week at VIPs. Whenever I worked with a student one on one with reading, I would help them sound out words and just make sure they could read the words. Last week I was working with one student, and had sets of flash cards with sentences. I would have the student read them all. This time if the student seemed to struggle, or just randomly, I would ask him what he just read meant. If he didn't know, I would try to explain it in a way he could understand, and then have him explain it to me in his own words. I think as a future teacher it is important to make the student able to read, but also to comprehend what they just read.

  2. I completely agree with you Sam. It is the teachers job to go above and beyond and to make sure that the student fully understands what they're doing. If the teachers are too lazy to do that then they are setting a bad example for the students.