Professional Hopes and Goals

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A hope I have as I complete this course is that I will always keep in mind what I have learned through it.  I hope that I don’t get complacent and begin to think of diversity the way I use to.  I also hope that I can pass what I have learned on to my staff and they can use the information to make their classrooms more inclusive for the children and their families at our center.

One goal I have for the early childhood field in regards to diversity, equity, and social justice is that we absorb as much information as we can on these subject matters, that we incorporate them into our classrooms and our legislation, and that we pass progress on to the next generation of early childhood professionals.

I want to thank all of you for your words of wisdom, support, and insight throughout the last eight weeks.  I wish you the best in the courses to come!  We can do this!

Welcoming Families from Around the World

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I recently found out that we will be welcoming a family from Korea into our child care center.  Since I do not know anything other than general information about this country I want to prepare myself and the classroom to welcome the child and family.

  1. I will use the Korean language of Hangul to label some areas of the classroom such as: interest centers, bathroom/sink, and toys.  I will try to learn a few words to welcome them and communicate since it is considered “one of the best and well planned languages in history”. (Holloway, 2007)  The Korean language is directly linked to the traditions of their culture. It is reassuring to know that people are taught both English and Korean from an early age in this country.  It is likely that the family will be familiar with the English language even if they don’t speak it fluently.
  2. I will incorporate some of the Korean holidays into the classroom through our lesson plans.  Korean New Year is in February, their Independence Day is March 1st, they have a Children’s Day on May 5th, and Hangul day is October 9th in South Korea, and January 15th in North Korea.
  3. I will prepare myself and other teaching staff that Korean parents take their children’s education very serious.  “For Koreans, their whole early education is based around getting into a good college.” (Holloway, 2007)  The Korean society places expectations on the children to receive the best education possible.  Therefore the parents may be very hands-on and wanting to know the progress their child is making.  They may even expect our classrooms to do more academic based work than we do in early childhood in America.
  4. I will need to understand that are cultural differences in personalities too.  Korean people are often thought of as being pushy or rude but it is just the difference in cultures, nothing that is personal.  Knowing this fact will help with my communication with the parents and possibly grandparents at another time.
  5. Finally, Koreans are very proud of their traditions.  In order to make the family and child feel welcomed and comfortable in our classroom environment I would encourage them to bring items from their culture, maybe cook a traditional meal, to share with our classroom.

I hope by learning more about the Korean culture I can communicate effectively with the child and parents.  I can make them feel welcome and comfortable from the moment they begin.  I think preparing ahead of time will make me more comfortable around an unfamiliar culture and they will be able to pick up on my comfort level.  This will create the inclusive environment that we strive to have in our center.

Resources

Holloway, R. (2007). Korean Culture.  Retrieved from http://www.learnkoreanlanguage.com/Korean-Culture.html#Traditional Korea

The Personal Side of Bias, Prejudice, and Oppression

First I want to say that I feel a bit selfish for talking about a bias or prejudice that I experienced when I have lived such a privileged life in comparison to so many others.  So when I think of personal experiences with bias or prejudice I automatically go back to the feelings I have had over the years in regards to being an “overweight” person.  Growing up it always seemed that I was the last to be chosen to play a game, or the boys always flirted with and asked out my skinny friends, or people assumed I couldn’t do certain things like dance or run, etc.  I think the biggest thing for me is the feeling of being overlooked or the complete opposite of people staring and whispering.  It may be that I was self-conscious and it wasn’t that big of a deal but it felt huge to me.

I believe equity is always diminished when another person’s self worth is affected.  I know that growing up I never felt like I was truly accepted based on my looks.  I know that the world is not always fair and people are going to feel how they want to feel but I think there needs to be a lot more empathy for us to reach equity.  Obviously I relive the moments I’ve had in my life in my head and fight the low self-esteem I experience from it.  Those feelings never go away but I can handle it a bit better now that I have gotten older.

I think for us to get past bias, prejudice, and oppression and find a greater equity we have to begin with us.  For example, when I find myself judging someone else or hear someone judging another person I have to stop myself or stop them in a kind way.  Sometimes we don’t know that we are doing these things and if someone was to bring it to our attention we could change our actions in the moment and be more aware of it happening in the future.  If we could each take responsibility slowly in time we could turn these negatives into positives and less people feel the affects of bias, prejudice, and oppression.

Practicing Awareness of Microaggressions

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I had not looked ahead at the blog assignments so I used some of the examples for microaggression that have happened to me or that I have observed in my reflective journal and discussion post already this week.  Thinking back over this week the microaggression that stands out to me pertains to a young woman that we had planned to interview for a job position.  The ones picked to do the interviewing were all gathered in the boardroom and we are waiting to see if the applicant would show up or not.  We received a phone call that the young lady was there but had gone to the wrong office.  Okay, that happens all the time.  Then we were told that she had brought her young child (we are guessing about two years old) to the interview.  Before any of us had seen this woman or talked to this woman we all began to judge her and say things like, “Who brings their child to an interview?”  Luckily someone had the presence of mind to tell the group that we need to find more out before we jump to any conclusions.  It turns out that she had just moved to the area, her child hadn’t started child care yet, and her babysitter fell through at the last minute.  I say kudos to this young lady for taking a chance and coming for the interview.  Many times we have interviews scheduled and the applicant does not show up and does not call.  At least she came and tried.  She will get the chance to interview but it’ll have to be without her baby so that she can concentrate and we can concentrate on her.

I think that as a group we have become cynical about people.  We made a snap judgement about a woman we knew nothing about.  Once I had the time to reflect I realized that I felt really bad for judging this woman.  After she left we all talked about how we had prejudged her and how we need to stop and find out the other persons story before we jump to conclusions.  Stereotyping could have led us to pass up a really good candidate.

Perspectives on Diversity and Culture

The first person I chose to ask to share with me their definition of culture and diversity was my sister-in-law.  She is twenty-one years old, so a lot younger than me, and comes from a different family dynamic than I do.  She is also taking an anthropology class this semester and once she told me that I understood her response to my questions. Her responses were:

  • What is your definition of culture?
    • Culture is the collection of values and norms that fit a group of people.
  • What is your definition of diversity?
    • Diversity is an assortment of people, places or things.

The second person I chose to ask to share with me their definition of culture and diversity was my brother.  We were raised by the same parents but fourteen years apart.  I feel like I helped raise him instead of a sibling relationship.

  • What is your definition of culture?
    • Culture is the collection of art, history, and shared values of a group of people.
  • What is your definition of diversity?
    • Diversity is the equal representation of multiple subcultures within the larger culture.

The third person I chose to ask to share with me their definition of culture and diversity is the director over five of our child care centers.  I chose her because I respect her and her incredible influence on early childhood within the state of Tennessee.

  • What is your definition of culture?
    • Beliefs and behaviors subscribed to by any group of people.  It could be social, ethnic  or generational.  I think that generally culture is recognized as an identity with an ethnic background with people subscribing to sub cultures like the “culture of school or church etc.”.  So, a child could live in their sub culture of their school understanding the general behaviors associated with school as well as their ethnic culture at home.  Both culture and sub culture should be something that is passed down through the generations.  To that end traditions are part of a culture as well.  In some instances, people could understand and live with two cultures; when families are blended.  I believe that this can, over time become a different culture with tendencies toward the parent culture.  I think it is important that in cultures consideration is given to allow people to decide who they best identify with rather than a certain script or marking as the identifier.   It is more than skin color and religion.  It is how you respond to other peoples and situations as well.
  • What is your definition of diversity?
    • To be diverse.  Different.  But differences brought together to include.  Inclusion.  This too is more than race or ethnicity.  It is social and economic status; abilities/disabilities,   sexual orientation.  I think many times we think just race or ethnicity or even holidays which is really not about diversity but can be INCLUDED in diversity.  Inclusion of all peoples, cultures and subcultures.
    • Which aspects of culture and diversity that I have studied in this course are included in the answers I received—and what are some examples?
      • I think that all of the answers I received include what we have studied in this course, from the simplistic to the more in-depth definition.  I felt like my directors definition was the most thorough explanation of culture and diversity and really fit the best with what we have learned this far.
    • Which aspects have been omitted  – and what are some examples of such omission?
      • I was surprised that none of the people I interviewed gave the standard answer of gender, race, religious orientation, sexual orientation, etc.  I think most of us started out this course with the standard answer of culture and diversity and we are evolving into a more thorough understanding of what they are.
    • In what ways has thinking about other people’s definitions of culture and diversity influenced my own thinking about these topics?
      • Honestly I almost feel bad that I have always thought of these two topics in such a generalized way.  When I received the answers from the three people I was amazed that they had a more thorough understanding of the words than I did a few weeks ago.  I think I took the most influence away from my directors definition.  I’m going to go back and read her definition throughout this course because culture and diversity were defined so well.

My Family Culture

Beginning this assignment is a hard one for me.  The reason it is hard for me is because my family has never been defined by material things.  Do we have material things?  Of course we do but if we had to evacuate our home, yes there would be items we missed and grieved for, but I think we would be able to go on as a family and carry on our traditions and family culture.

With that being said, I had to really think about three items I would take with me.  The first item I chose was a picture of my grandma and grandpa.  I would explain that I chose this item as a reminder of who are is, what we mean to each other, and where it all started.  Family was the most important thing to them.  As long as we were together everything else was going to be okay and things would fall into place.  They were the foundation that our family was built upon.  Even though they are gone from this world I still try to live up to their expectations and want to make them proud.

The second item I would choose would be some form of music, a radio, MP3 player, a CD, a record, any form of music.  I would explain that I chose this item because music has always been a part of our family culture.  My grandmother played the organ in our church for 40 years (and was musically talented in many other ways), my uncle and father both sing, and my cousin and I use to sing and play the piano. Music bonds us together and lifts us up.

The third item I would choose to take with me is a quilt my great-grandmother made for me when I was born.  The quilt design is called something like “the wedding ring” and is to be given when the woman marries.  Well I never married and my grandmother passed away when I was 19 years old.  She gave it to me before she passed.  She had it in her hope chest in a special bag and she waited to give it to me.  I would explain that I chose this item because it was from my great-grandmother and my grandmother, both of which were very special ladies in my life.

I think if I was told upon arrival that I had to give up two of the three things that I would be pretty heartbroken.  I chose three items that mean a lot to me and to find out that it is narrowed down to one would be hard.  If I had to choose the one item I would keep it would be the picture of my grandma and grandpa.  I would want future generations to know about these two and know that they came from strong, loving, and generous ancestors.  The other two items are material things and things that can be replaced.  The picture of my grandparents is irreplaceable.

In doing this exercise I now realize that there are things about my family culture that are unique to us and more than just a surface culture.  We have a strong sense of family, loyalty, love, and support.  It is more than our social class, our gender, the color of our skin, our religion, etc.  It is about what is deeper and what cannot be replaced that makes up our family culture.

When I think of research . . .

What insights have you gained about research from taking this course?

I have to say that I have learned a lot about research throughout this eight week course. The very first week when we learned about how to read a research paper is something I will take with me for the rest of my academic career.  Before this course I never would have known that there is a design aspect to a research project and definitely had no idea about quantitative and qualitative design.  I have gained a respect for researchers now that I have learned about all of the things they have to take into consideration even before beginning the field work or the data analysis.

In what ways have your ideas about the nature of doing research changed?

I think before this course I thought it was fairly simple: the researcher chose a topic, maybe did a little research on what others had found about the topic, decided who would participate, do their observations, write about their findings.  Now I know that there are lots and lots of steps and things to consider.  The idea of conducting a thorough research study is overwhelming and still intimidating.

What lessons about planning, designing, and conducting research in early childhood did you learn?

Planning affects the design and how the research will be conducted.  In early childhood one of the most important parts of research is taking ethical issues into consideration.  Confidentiality and obtaining proper consent from all participants is crucial.  Also, attempting to plan for those extraneous variables that may alter or affect the study is important.

What are some of the challenges you encountered – and in what ways did you meet them?

I honestly did not think that I would ever understand anything that we would talk about this semester when we first began.  I decided to take it one step at a time and with the support of my colleagues and Dr. Todd it has not been as overwhelming as I thought it would be.  There was still times that I would read our resources and feel like I didn’t understand I word I had just read.  Then I would see that others had the same issue and it made me feel better and I would go back and read it again.  Surprisingly it started to make sense and I was able to put my thoughts together.

What are some of the ways your perceptions of an early childhood professional have been modified as a result of this course?

I’ve always thought that early chldhood professionals are hard working and underestimated.  I feel like we have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously and given credit for the work that we do.  This course has reinforced that for me because it has shown me that quality research must be done in order for the world to listen.  I think that may even mean that the same type of research must be done over and over to prove what we, as early childhood professionals,  already know is best for the healthy development of children.

I want to thank all of you that have helped me and encouraged me through this course.  Most of us felt intimidated and overwhelmed with the idea of research but I think that we have all learned a lot in these last eight weeks.  Thank you again and good luck with your future courses!