"My Three Sons"

"My Three Sons"



Sunday, June 5, 2011

Literacy with and Attitude by Patrick J. Finn -----Talking Point: Questions


1)    Patrick Finn had many ideas when deciding on a name for his book.  He chose “Literacy with an Attitude.”  What is Finn referring to when he says “Attitude” ?  

2) Finn explains claims  we have developed two types of education depending on social class which are empowering education and domesticating education.  How do these models differ and do you agree there are two types of education taught in the United States based on social class?  Explain your reasoning.

3)   What does Finn say are the social dynamics and mechanisms uncovered by scholars that have led to the present state of affairs or "status quo" unfair education?

4)    In what areas do Finn and Delpit share similar arguments or points of views?
5)    Finn talks about learning a lesson from his “hard-bitten teachers”.  What was that lesson and   
        how important do you think these lessons are in preventing “barriers” between cultures?

6)    What “designated school” researched by Anyon in Finn’s article would you say describes your  
       school, and do those characteristics he described fit your reality of students, teachers and  
       education within your school?

7)     Do you agree with the characteristics of the “designated schools” discussed in Finn’s article?    
       Why or why not?  Give an example to back up your answer.

 After reading the first couple of chapters to Finn's "Literacy with an Attitude", I wanted to read more.  I intend this week to continue reading and I am going to share what I have learned at my School Improvement Meeting this week.  I loved when Finn said " If we understand the mechanisms that have led us to the "status quo", we can change them and bring us to a different place." After each reading I feel like the main questions and themes are the same or at least the basis for our problems are the same. He also brought to light how some felt giving empowering education/literacy to thje working class or poor would be dangerous.  I took it as dangerous to the RICH and that they didn't want the status quo to change. The subject matter he discusses in his book is so relevent to me as a teacher and definitely eye opening.  I started to question if what he was saying was true even though so much research was done by him and others such as Anyon.  I thought to myself, do schools as a whole teach a certain way based on students class or is it that just some teachers think and teach the way Finn discussed.  I once again began to go back to the idea that "those in the power of culture" do not realize the problems effecting so many and is that why I didn't realize this was still going on today.  I guess it just saddens me a bit to think that such an injustice exists.  "In Literacy with an Attitude" it talked about IQ's and how students in the working class school  had average to above average IQ's.  Why would a teacher expect less or give less because of a student's social class/culture etc.?  The potential is there and it needs to be fostered.

It makes me reflect upon my own practice and how I teach.  I began evaluating how I teach and respond to my students.  Do I have lower expectations of my students because their families are considered to be "working class" or because I teach in an Urban Ring disrict?  Do I unconsciously teach differently because of their class or background ?    The answer is "I am not sure".  I would like to say I teach to the child's individuals needs and potential but "schools" were categorized not teachers in the articles, so as a school or district where do I fall?  It seems that so many people research and want to push for change and though we have come a long way there are still SOOO many issues to resolve and injustices to rectify.  Will the HAVES ever really understand enough or care enough about the HAVE-NOTS to help change the status quo?  Parents and educators have got a big mountain to climb.  


  1. Nina, You came up with some really good questions. Also, in the paragraphs you wrote following the questions you asked some questions of yourself. These reminded me of the survey we filled out at the beginning of our FNED 502 class. Great thought provoking questions. See you in class tomorrow! : )

  2. Nina, these were great questions that you jotted down from Finn. I found them all relevant and the main points that Finn was trying to get across the his readers. I thought that this was a great read. I think we will have a lot to say in class tomorrow.

  3. Hi Nina,

    Great post! Since I was assigned to read Kozol, I really was able to get a good idea about what Finn's article was about in your post. Your questions are very open ended and would provide for a great class discussion. These articles really do make you think about your own classroom, teaching, and how you
    interact with students.