This reading impacts my thinking of Participatory Action Research (PAR) in confirming that sometimes simply carrying out research and publicizing it is an effective way of performing participatory action. In this way, community members are able to read the information and decide for themselves how they want to either act on this further or not.
Another aspect I enjoyed was being able to do the research in a group with others. I felt this approach blends Community Organizing with PAR in a unique way! This approach identified the importance of including a diverse group of stakeholders as this offers multiple perspectives and can better influence change for the entire community, if all members of the community are represented in the research.
Finally, the last few strategies of how to engage with the stakeholders were really interesting and useful. I especially liked the notecard activity in which anonymously every stakeholder writes what they want their community to look like in 5 years. This would be a great activity in establishing goals for the PAR. Additionally, field trips to the communities you plan on working with are essential in getting to understand the stakeholders and where they are coming from.
Riane Eisler brings a new perspective to social justice: “empathy and caring” as “the core of how we treat one another” (Eisler, 2012, p. 51). In this text, Eisler explains how caring and empathy were erased from social justice to begin with. Several cultures deemed anything “soft,” or “feminine,” to be related to “caring, caregiving, and nonviolence”, which is seen as inferior (Eisler, 2012, p. 55). Eisler discusses the importance of social justice not only in the public realm, but the private realm as well. This is crucial because children begin to understand the world in ways they were taught or observed while growing up. In order to stop people from assuming things are just supposed to be the way they are and to promote change, we must understand the importance of social justice in the private lives of society as well. Eisler’s view of social justice is much in line with mine, creating “‘caring societies’” (Eisler, 2012, p. 54).
Source: Eisler, R. (2012). Cultivating compassion: Lessons learned from society and culture. In L. G. Denti & P. A. Whang (Eds.), Rattling chains: Exploring social justice in education (pp. 51-56). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
This reading will inform my thinking about Participatory Action Research (PAR) in a variety of ways. First, Morrell provides the notion that participating in action based off of research develops a person to really learn about the material and become an expert. This concept is a motivational tool for me to keep in mind while I work through my PAR project. Although I will be researching and finding a lot of useful information, I will learn even more about the developmental benefits of music education by doing action within music education.
Next, Morrell advocates for students to be involved in the research and implementation of change within schools. This informs my thinking about research of schooling because students are the ones educators, administrators, and policy-makers are looking into developing and educating better and they research a variety of ways to do this without consulting the students. Since the students are the ones who will be directly affected, shouldn’t we be consulting them first or have them involved in this research process?
Finally, Morrell discusses the action the students took after synthesizing their research. The students led a presentation to parents, faculty, and administrators; posted their research to an online journal and continuously uploaded further research to the forums; helped advertise and develop an after-school club; and attended and presented at the American Educational Research Association. This informs my thinking about what is considered action. I do not have to hold a large protest, but I could write my research down and post it to an online forum. By doing this and continuously updating it with more recent research, I am doing an action that allows others from all around the world to take action. Other people can research and find holes within my research to fill with their own research and action.
Noddings stressed the importance of student choice in tracking programs. In class discussion, I brought up one possible solution. I suggested students be offered a choice in every class they take, not in a specific track. Students would be given the course overview of each course in a catalog and could choose the courses they want to take. To refrain from students choosing the easiest class they can pick from, there needs to be structure in the number of specific types of courses (i.e. languages, electives, sciences, etc.). Teachers and advisors need to really know their students to guide them through choices in future courses. By offering students these options, students do not have to choose between college and career right away, but between which classes interest them most. Then, students can learn from these interests, with guidance from their counselors, to go into the appropriate path after high school.
After Christine Sleeter’s reading from the book, Rattling Chains: Exploring Social Justice in Education, I found myself in agreement to the points Sleeter made regarding multicultural education versus social justice. The conversations outlined in her dialogue sections were accurate to the conversations I have heard from several parents regarding multicultural education. These parents believe their children’s education is multicultural because the school or teacher hosts celebrations surrounding food, clothes, and songs of different cultures occasionally. Some parents believe parents of a different culture do not care about their children’s education. This belief is naïve and this type of multicultural approach is so narrow it does nothing to show the realities of the people within these cultures. A truly multicultural education, which Sleeter renames social justice, involves enlightening the class about the hardships different cultures face due to oppression and the privileges certain groups have due to being a dominant group.
During class on February 7, 2014, we discussed a reading by Julio Cammarota from the book, Rattling Chains: Exploring Social Justice in Education. Reflecting on this discussion, hosted by the K.A.L.A.B. group, the class felt the term “magical consciousness” defined by Cammarota as “the first and lowest stage…in which people believe God predetermines their fate” (p. 7) was offensive. Several felt the term was suggesting being religious means having a low level of consciousness. I found myself offended as well because it is my faith in God that motivates me into action. I feel I am both critically conscious as well as magically conscious, to use Cammarota’s term, because I believe that God predetermines my fate, but I am also aware of the human constructs needing to be changed due to the social injustices they provide.