In Making Room for One Another, Gerri August discusses her observations of a Kindergarten classroom in the northeast at an urban, public charter school called the Horton School. The teacher's name was Zeke Lerner and the main study observed in the study was a boy named Cody. Zeke's classroom practices modeled democratic lessons and the struggle in creating a comfortable and respectful learning environment for his students. Cody was a Cambodian boy adopted when he was five months old by two lesbian mothers.
August began her study by first asking the question, "what happens when a child with lesbian parents and children from other non-dominant family structures share theri family stories in a classrom taht is led by a teacher committed to democratic pedagogy?" However, this question was eventually reconstructed into questions that asked "how might a democratic, transformative educator respond to sociocultural differences that emerge in the classroom discourse? How might that educator create constraints and possibilities taht encourage students to recognize and appreciate difference? How might a child who represents a marginalized community respond to such interventions?" Using these questions as a basis for her study, Gerri August began her observations in Zeke Lerner's classroom to get some answers. As August said, "this project attends to how Zeke created a democratic educational environment in which broad issues of difference were recognized and honored."
The following are some quotes that I found within the reading and what I believe them to mean.
"If educators understand that society is in the process of being both preserved and transformed by our collective activities, then we will see our classrooms as activity systems that have both roots and wings. Some roots, deeply embedded in the cultural artifacts (e.g., institutions [including school] and media), have resulted in the unequl distribution of social goods. But these artifacts are not just "out there"; they have been insinuated in the generation of our students' higher psychological functions. And they have been insinuated in the minds of educators. The activities in which we engage and the artifacts that we create together must serve to question and act on the dehumanization that has grown up as the necessary corollary to privilege. We must realize that our classroom discourse has sociopolitical consequences, that our words are performative."
I think that this means that if educators are able to understand that our society is affected directly by the things we say, the way we teach, and how we run our classroom, than we will be able to use this environment to hold onto traditions and values while making a change in areas of our society that need improvement through our students. This quote says that some aspects of our society are the way they are because we are instilled with certain values. It also says that our activities must challenge and attempt to change the dehumanization that has been assumed to be necessary to gain privilege or power. We must be constantly aware that our words spur actions. This is relavant to the text because it addresses how the climate of the classroom can be used to change the outlook of the chidlren growing up to be adults. It can also point out how we can use our classroom to develop resect for diversity among our students.
"Educators who are alarmed by this censorship need to find effective ways to develop empathic learners who are "ready to learn" the value of difference.....For whether a child is otherized because of the sexual orientation of his parents, his language, his color, or his clothing, the result is the same: "disorienting powerlessness"."
I think that this quote addresses the need to promote and build an environment where children are tolerant and accepting of change so that they can learn about the differences within our society and be able to be respectful of them. This quote also tells us that regardless of the reason that a child is singled out for being different, it will always result in loss of power. This is relevant to the text because Zeke is attempting to build a community of learners within his classroom that are ready to learn about the value of difference and to encourage tolerance and acceptance of people's uniqueness.
"Without a moral imagination that includes the expectation and valuing of diversity, without engendering a commitment to widen our circle to make room for one another, our children will be ill prepared to work toward our collective progress."
This quote explains the immense need for educators and adults to convey to their children that diversity exists and should be appreciated; because if we don't we are not enabling them to be accepting of those who are different within their lives. This would truly be doing them a disservice, and eliminating the chances of their generation helping in our efforts as a whole to eliminate discrimination in our world. I think that this quote is again pointing out how our 'words are performative'; we are to demonstrate for the children what we expect from them.