Case Study 2-1: Young Adolescents’ Physical, Neural and Cognitive Changes

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   Jason certainly is going through a lot of physical, neural and cognitive changes that might be causing him to feel emotionally unregulated. The need for peer acceptance, the fact that he does not want peers knowing that he excels academically, the skin problems, and the growth spurt might result in mood swings. In other words, Jason is able to better regulate his emotions in some situations but not in all situations. I’d recommend having him monitored by parents, teachers and the school counselor in order to make sure there is no substance abused or depression diagnose. According to Manning and Bucher (2012) depression can also be manifested through irritability, negativity, sarcasm, criticism and somatic symptoms in adolescents that are not cognitively mature (35). Therefore, Jason’s parents and teachers should definitely schedule a counseling session with the school’s counselor since he might be exhibiting signs of depression. The counselor could also address Jason’s need of peer acceptance and “fitting in”.

   As for the difficulties on grasping abstract math concepts, I would recommend that teachers vary their techniques, provide extra resource, simplify the steps of a problem, adjust the complexity of the assignments or even give the student an entire different placement. Another interesting point emphasized by Wormeli (2001) is that teachers should constantly look for more professional training (63). That makes sense since we are living in a rapidly changing world that “obligates” people, including young adolescents, to rapidly change as well. As a consequence, teens have been feeling more stressed and unbalanced. The fact that he is doing well in science and social studies and is declining just in math, might be a sign that he is not cognitively ready for abstract thinking or for certain types of abstract thinking such as in algebra. Parents and teachers should monitor his overall progress and adjust the ways he is able to learn. Not being able to grasp abstract concepts might also be stressful to Jason! Few months ago he was just fine and all of a sudden he can’t solve algebra questions. It is equally important that parents, teachers and the counselor are in frequent contact and define a date for the evaluation of Jason’s progress. The progress evaluation meeting would be “Student-Led” (Brown and Knowles, 2007, 201), in order words, Jason should not only be there, but also actively participate in the discussion about his own progress. Based on the conversation, parents, teachers, school counselor and Jason should either change strategies or celebrate his achievements.

The plan would be composed of the following steps:

  1. Jason would meet with the school counselor once a week in order to discuss peer pressure, rule out substance abuse and depression and discuss Jason’s perspectives on all the changes that his body is going through and how that might affect his academic performance.
  2. As Jason decline academically just in math, the math teacher would help Jason through the general adjustment of the subject complexity such as breaking a math problem down, varying his teaching techniques and simplifying steps of an algebra question.
  3. Parents, teachers, counselor and Jason would meet again in 6 weeks to discuss Jason’s progress.

   My plan was very similar to the suggestions given by the text. However, although I should’ve, I did not address the matter of incorporating topics such as peer pressure, substance use and growth spurts in their advisory programs (Manning and Bucher, 2012, 49). Also, I believe that I considered points that the suggestions given by the text did not consider such as depression, stress and include Jason in his own progress evaluation meeting. Brown and Knowles (2007) emphasize the importance of Student-Led conferences since it put young adolescents in a position of responsibility for their academic growth (200).

References:

Brown, Dave F, and Trudy Knowles. What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know. 2nd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2007. 290. Print.

Manning, M. Lee., and Katherine T. Bucher. Teaching in the Middle School. 4th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012. Print.

Wormeli, Rick. Meet me in the Middle: Becoming an Accomplished Middle-level Teacher. Portland, Me.: Stenhouse, 2001. Print.

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Teaching Middle School: a tricky business

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   Being a middle school teacher is a challenging and rewarding experience. It requires that teachers are responsive to young adolescents’ physical, neural, cognitive and socio-emotional changes, which in turn, should result in professionals that go beyond their subject matter into actually broadening their clinical skills. Manning and Bucher (2012) corroborate that thought explaining that excellence in teaching depends on how the teachers understand middle schoolers’ uniqueness and how they answer to their needs (28). Middle school educational experiences should reflect young adolescents’ development so that academic requirements could be accommodated according their particular needs and student learning outcomes optimized due to challenging and relevant content. For instance, sleeping patterns, growth spurt, cognitive development and socio-emotional regulation are factors that if not properly addressed, will interfere in middle schoolers’ academic results.

    Besides being knowledgeable about young adolescents’ needs, it is important that teachers are aware of such needs in light of the contemporary issues teens face (Manning and Bucher, 2012, 28). Therefore, the ability to reflectively listen to the students and acknowledge their difficulties and frustrations, will help them learn how to regulate their own emotions while going through this period of drastic changes. I strongly agree with Manning and Bucher (2012) that motivational support is as important as effective curriculum and instruction (28); in other words, by developing a trustworthy and caring relationship with young adolescents and a positive school climate, they’ll feel that the school is a safe place to learn. Brown and Knowles (2007) also agree that community members and teachers can exert strong influence on young adolescents (45). Therefore, guiding them to further maturity through the development of good interpersonal relationships will also improve academic learning.

References:

Brown, Dave F, and Trudy Knowles. What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know. 2nd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2007. 290. Print.

Manning, M. Lee., and Katherine T. Bucher. Teaching in the Middle School. 4th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012. Print.

Educational “ Re-engineering”: Implementing The Middle School Concept- EDU 680

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Besides being seen as new implementations to improve middle schoolers achievement, “The middle school concept” should be seen as a deep change in personal paradigms that will result in changes in the schools’ culture. In other words, the actual “change” starts within the school staff and then spreads into the school as an organization. That can be a daunting task since it “forces” professionals to leave their comfort zone, tapping into unknown areas. That’s how I perceive some of the staff at Oakwood School, they feel they are getting into an unknown territory and they are not sure it is going to be feasible. For instance the sixth grade teacher sees the Turning Points, Great Transitions and This We Believe recommendations as “too much”, while the guidance counselor believes that they can be a good middle school without putting into practice “all” the recommendations (21).  In order to really be a middle school, Oakwood should develop family-community partnerships, interdisciplinary teams, challenging and student-centered curriculum and assessments that promote active learning. The school should also be developmentally responsive with regards to scheduling; promoting young adolescents’ wellness and nurturing relationships between teachers and students (Manning and Bucher, 2012, 7-15).

 I believe that the Oakwood School leaders should start this educational “re-engineering” by implementing changes in the organizational culture, that is, the staff should be on the same page and they aren’t. A good way to start changing their organizational culture would be through meetings with all the school staff, so that the team can determine where “they are” in terms of educational excellence and “where they want to be” and then start brainstorming solutions. Oakwood School seems to be focused on long-term goals (three year plan), they should also have short-term goals (6 months plan) so that they can efficiently speed up the process. “The idea would be to avoid change just for the sake of change and to avoid making too many changes at one time” (21), I agree with Oakwood School that the school staff needs time to internalize all those changes but, there are many resources that can help teachers and school administration to truly get on board. For instance,  brainstorming sessions structured by the Ishikawa Diagram would help them identify possible causes for the problems the school is facing.

 Manning and Bucher (2012) affirm that “The student centered emphasis of the middle school lends itself to the promotion of inclusion” (18).  Although Oakwood School decides to start focusing on the development of exploratory programs on the third year, they don’t mention anything about curriculum and how it would be designed. I would suggest that the team consider implementing a student-designed curriculum using the Curriculum Integration Model explained by Brown and Knowles (2007). The authors emphasize that a curriculum that follows the Curriculum Integration Model is developed by teachers and students together. It also takes into consideration the students’ concerns and questions rather than the demands of standardized achievement tests (131). In that way, the students are learning based on what is significant in their lives, they are also learning the principles of democracy and most importantly they feel motivated to learn.

I agree with the 3 year plan, except that I’d recommend that exploratory programs would also be developed on the first year. Effective middle schools answer to the needs of its young adolescents and implementing exploratory programs is an urgent matter since they motivate students to learn and help them develop skills that are fundamental for high school, college and real life.

References:

Brown, Dave F, and Trudy Knowles. What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know. 2nd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2007. 290. Print.

Manning, M. Lee., and Katherine T. Bucher. Teaching in the Middle School. 4th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012. Print.

Una bonita combinación – Mercedes Abad

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        En el cuento “Una bonita combinación” de Mercedes Abad, el papel del matrimonio en la cultura es visto como un negocio, o más específicamente, una sociedad en la cual los socios (la pareja) y los testimonios firman un contrato matrimonial. Legalmente, cuando la empresa (el matrimonio)  no es exitosa, un juez determinará la división de los bienes y la custodia de los hijos. En el caso de Louise and Albert Cromdale, el matrimonio es un éxito y muchos los envidian, admiran e incluso sospechan de la veracidad de su amor (empresa). En otras palabras, la gente presume la felicidad o infelicidad del “otro”,  el éxito o fracaso del “otro”. “Identity is therefore projected at the target audience in a theatrical performance that conveys self to others” (2). El concepto del “otro” explicado por Clarke (2008) clarifica no solo los conceptos de raza y racismo, sino también variadas proyecciones que uno puede hacer acerca de individuos o comunidades enteras.

            Clarke (2008) profundiza aún más en su análisis y afirma que la persona que ejecuta el acto lo puede estar haciendo de buena fe, pero también, puede estar actuando de manera cínica y manipulativa (2). En el caso de Louise, uno percibe que su vida es una pieza de teatro. Su matrimonio y su vida social son solamente fachadas para encubrir sus crímenes y su personalidad enfermiza. “ Cuando Louise, una mujer harto enigmática, exigió que le fuera concedida una habitación privada a la que sola ella tuviera acceso, un lugar donde poder retirarse cuando apeteciera de soledad, Albert no hizo objeción alguna[…]” ( Mercedes Abad, 1961, p.40).  Albert, por lo contrario, parece ser un tipo pasivo, que Louise manipula y utiliza para capturar a sus víctimas, “El enojoso episodio de la muchacha de Manchester se repetiría en el futuro con muchísimas otras muchachas, en su mayoría escapadas de sus hogares, solas y desamparadas” (41). Uno claramente percibe las características en común de las víctimas, algo bien típico de los psicópatas.  No obstante, a pesar de someterse a Louise, Albert también siente placer en sus relaciones amorosas y en la manera por la cual Louise siempre resuelve sus problemas: en silencio, en secreto, discretamente. El matrimonio de Louise and Albert Cromdale es una fachada perfecta, utilizada para encubrir sus verdaderas personalidades enfermizas. La gente presupone todo sobre su matrimonio, menos que ellos sean cómplices y asesinos.

Referencias:

Clarke, Simon. “Culture and Identity”. The SAGE Handbook of Cultural Analysis. 2008. Sage Publications.12 July 2015.

Abad, Mercedes. “Una Bonita Combinacion.” Mercedes Abad. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 38-42. Print.

El proceso de mestizaje como vehículo de aculturación y violencia: la intrahistoria presente en os textos de Cristóbal Colón y Garcilaso de La Vega.

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     Contrariamente a la historia oficial de los libros, utilizando el concepto de intrahistoria presentado por Miguel Unamuno en su libro “En Torno al Casticismo”, 1895,  uno logra demonstrar que el proceso de mestizaje se dio por medio de la aculturación y violencia. Dicho eso, sería oportuno empezar  por la definición del concepto unamuniano de intrahistoria. Medina (2009) explica que Unamuno (1895) brillantemente utiliza el océano como metáfora  para diferenciar y explicar los conceptos de historia e intrahistoria. Es decir, la historia oficial sería como las olas ruidosas y llenas de espumas de la superficie del mar. Ya la intrahistoria sería representada por el océano profundo con  sus aguas tranquilas  y silenciosas. El concepto de historia para Unamuno se resume a los hechos “heroicos”,  notorios y significativamente relevantes que han sucedido a lo largo de la evolución humana. En respuesta a ese espectáculo exagerado que es la Historia Oficial,  el filósofo español  propone un modelo de intrahistoria en lo cual no hay héroes ni jerarquías de protagonistas. En otras palabras, el hecho intrahistórico debería ser una tarea común a todos los hombres, puesto que  todos aquellos que contribuyen para la construcción socio-política de una nación deberían ser  reconocidos de manera adecuada (Medina, 2009). Al ejemplificar su metáfora, Unamuno aclara que los periódicos generalmente publican una historia de cuño superficial que representa el “presente momento histórico. Ellos no mencionan nada sobre la vida cotidiana y silenciosa de las masas de trabajadores que salen a los campos para trabajar de sol a sol; al contrario, atribuyen una importancia exagerada a unos pocos “personajes heroicos”.  Por lo tanto, al considerar que la Historia Oficial está cargada de elementos tendenciosos,  se infiere que a través de la intrahistoria uno comprende mejor y de forma más critica la historia de un pueblo, “[…] no hay pruebas porque a la historia la escriben los asesinos” (La Historia Oficial, Luis Puenzo). De esta manera, este trabajo pretende mostrar cómo por medio de la literatura de  Cristóbal Colón y Garcilaso de La Vega el proceso de mestizaje tiznado de violencia, tiene como fin la construcción de las naciones latinoamericanas.

     Al contrario de Charlip and Burns (2010) que afirman que el proceso de mestizaje  sucedió  de manera violenta y consensual (25); al leer los textos de los autores estudiados, uno percibe claramente que el proceso de mestizaje sucedió de manera violenta en su totalidad, ya que la mentalidad eurocéntrica de los conquistadores no les permitieron respetar ni valorizar las culturas de los hombres americanos.  Tal proceso tiene su origen en el encuentro de Colón con los nativos americanos y en su pretendida “misión” de cristianizarlos. La intrahistoria, o sea, lo que corresponde a los hechos reales del primer viaje de Colón a las “Indias”, demuestra que el Almirante y los demás conquistadores eran en realidad usurpadores disfrazados de héroes. “Yo,  porque nos tuviesen mucha amistad, porque conocí que era gente que mejor se libraría y convertiría a nuestra Santa Fe con amor que no por fuerza” (Colón, Huellas, 55).  El proceso de mestizaje empieza por la aculturación religiosa a través de la intención de cristianización del hombre americano, haciéndolo siervo no solamente de Dios sino también de España.  “Traían ovillos de algodón filado y papagayos y azagayas y otras cositas que sería tedio de escribir, y todo daban por cualquier cosa que se los diese. Y yo estaba atento y trabajaba para saber si había oro […]” (Colón, Huellas,  56- 57).  En este pasaje, uno percibe claramente el concepto de intrahistoria implícito en la falta de interés de Colón por los regalos que los indígenas le traen debido a su codicia por el oro. “Sacó el Almirante la bandera real y los capitanes con dos banderas de la Cruz Verde, que llevaba el almirante en todos los navíos por seña con una F y una Y […]” (Colón, Huellas, 55). Otra vez, la intrahistoria encubierta por el hecho histórico de la ceremonia del requerimiento, revela no solamente la usurpación de la tierra, sino también la usurpación de la identidad del nativo americano y el comienzo del proceso de mestizaje.

     Tal proceso sucedió de manera violenta, sin el consentimiento de los indígenas y  más tarde de los negros, simplemente porque las relaciones entre colonizadores y colonizados eran de carácter dominador. Reyna y Chaves (2013) en su artículo “Ethos y Colonialidad en América Latina”, citan el concepto de codigofagia de Echeverría como fuente aclaratoria de los mecanismos violentos del proceso de mestizaje. Para Echeverría  el mestizaje no fue un proceso tranquilo de combinación de razas, sino un enfrentamiento entre culturas, en lo cual los códigos del comportamiento social se devoraban mutuamente. Profundizando un poco más,  Reyna y Chaves (2013) enfatizan que los códigos del comportamiento social europeo inicia el proceso de mestizaje devorando a los códigos pre-hispánicos. Sin embargo,  casi al mismo tiempo, los códigos del comportamiento social pre-hispánicos ejercen influencia sobre los códigos del comportamiento social europeo, y esta interacción violenta resulta en el aparecimiento de la cultura latinoamericana (40). Uno es conducido a relacionar el concepto de codigofagia con el concepto de intrahistoria e infiere que la codigofagia es un aspecto intrahistórico en los textos de Cristóbal Colón y Garcilaso de la Vega. Mientras Colón representa el inicio del proceso de mestizaje, Garcilaso  puede ser considerado como un ejemplo de su resultado. Es decir, desde un punto de vista europeo, Garcilaso cuestiona y critica la cultura Inca y su modo de hacer historia a través de la oralidad, basándose en sus conocimientos de la historia escrita europea. “Inca, tío, pues no hay escrituras entre vosotros, que es la que guarda la memoria de las cosas pasadas, ¿qué noticias tenéis del origen y principio de nuestros reyes? Porque allá los españoles y las otras naciones sus comarcas, como tienen historias divinas y humanas, saben por ellas cuando empezaron a reinar sus reyes y los ajenos […] Empero vosotros que carecéis de ellos, ¿qué memorias tenéis de vuestras antiguallas? (De la Vega, Huellas, 111).

     Debido a su condición de mestizo e hijo ilegitimo, Garcilaso no consigue un puesto real en las Indias y decide dedicarse a las letras. De esta manera se torna comprensible que su doble herencia cultural pudiera haber sido la causa de sus cuestionamientos y conflictos de identidad. (Huellas, 112). Además, uno  percibe su preferencia por la vida europea; al hablar de su herencia Inca, Garcilaso actúa más como observador que participante activo en sus escritos y  exageradamente se preocupa en ser imparcial en sus relatos , “ […] no escribiré novedades que no se hayan oído, sino las mismas cosas que los historiadores españoles han escrito de aquella tierra y de los reyes de ella, y alegaré las mismas palabras de ellos, donde conviniere, para que se vea que no finjo ficciones en favor de mis parientes […]” ( De la Vega, Huellas, 113).  Otro punto interesante observado en los textos de Garcilaso, es la valoración  de la “Historia Oficial” y su preocupación en enfatizar que no pretende contradecir los historiadores españoles, sino servir a la república cristiana (114). A pesar de la tendencia eurocéntrica en la literatura de Garcilaso de la Vega, uno logra descubrir aspectos intrahistóricos que narran la violencia del mestizaje y el pesar de los Incas, “De las grandezas y prosperidades pasadas venían a las cosas presentes: lloraban sus reyes muertos, enajenado su imperio y acabada su república, etc.  Estas y otras semejantes pláticas tenían los Incas y Pallas en sus visitas, y con la memoria del bien perdido, siempre acababan su conversación en lágrimas y llanto […]” (De la Vega, Huellas, 111).

     A través de la utilización del concepto de intrahistoria de Unamuno, uno concluye que el proceso de mestizaje en América Latina ocurrió de forma violenta y no consensual. En otras palabras, los eventos de codigofagia o enfrentamiento de culturas son aspectos intrahistóricos en los textos de Cristóbal Colon y Garcilaso de la Vega, que ayudan a aclarar las razones por las cuales el proceso de mestizaje en América Latina fue un vehículo de aculturación y violencia.

Bibliografía:

Charlip, Julie. Burns, E.  “Independence.” Latin America: An Interpretative History. 9th ed. Los Angeles: Prentice Hall, 2011. Print.

Garganigo, John, Rene De Costa, Ben Heller, Alessandra Luiselli, Georgina Sabat-Rivers, and Elsbieta Sklodwska. Huellas De Las Literaturas Hispanoamericanas. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, 2002. 784. Print.

La Historia Oficial = The Official Story. Dir. Luis Puenzo. By Luis Puenzo. 1985. DVD.

Medina, Celso. “Intrahistoria, Cotidianidad Y Localidad.” Atenea 500 (2009): 123-39. Red De Revistas Científicas De América Latina Y El Caribe, España Y Portugal. Web. 15 May 2015. http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=32814402009

Reyna, Jaime, and Victor Chaves. “Ethos Y Colonialidad En America Latina. (Un Debate Hipotetico Entre Bolivar Echeverria Y Anibal Quijano.” Revista Dialectica 37.45-46 (2013): 34-52. Revista Dialectica. Nueva Epoca. Web. 22 May 2015. http://www.revistadialectica.org/45/archivos/45_Ethos_AL.pdf

Unamuno, Miguel de. En Torno Al Casticismo. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1964. Print

Analysis of “The Chimney Sweeper” by William Blake

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Taking into consideration that the “The Chimney Sweeper” by William Blake was published in 1789 and that England was going through the Industrial Revolution; one can clearly perceive the social criticism expressed by the author.

And so he was quiet, and that very night, As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight! That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack, Were all of them locked up in coffins of black.”

The passage encourages us to position more critically before the phenomenon of industrialization and mass production. Dick, Joe, Ned and Jack symbolize the people in general; common names for common people incarcerated by capitalism.

“And by came an Angel who had a bright key, And he opened the   coffins & set them all free; Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run, And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.”

 Then, a divine entity comes to set the kids for free and they are finally able to experience childhood. Nonetheless, it is a dream. Even though the boys wake up and their hard work routine starts all over again, Tom was happy to keep sweeping chimneys because the “angel” advised him in his dream that if “all do their duty, they need not fear harm”. At this point, one can identify   verbal irony in poem since the words said by the narrator are opposed to what sweeping chimneys and child exploitation really meant during the Industrial Revolution. Another interesting point, is the link between religious images such as the “angel” and mass alienation, which shows that the author probably adopted a Marxist position in response to the changing world of the Industrial Revolution. Such position is also another strong element used by the author in order to create irony in his poem

“And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark, and got with our bags and our brushes to work.”

The end of the poem is actually very disturbing; the children “rose in the dark” which symbolizes how reduced their life perspectives were. In other words, the poem sets up an atmosphere characterized by helplessness, which leads the readers to think that inciting outrage was the mechanism that the author used to reach his goal of creating awareness of the problems of child exploitation and alienation from the self.

Achebe, Chinweizu and Ngugi: a longstanding debate on African Literature

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            In order to identify and explicate common elements among the essays of Achebe, Chinweizu and Ngugi, I believe it would be relevant to mention the historical context of colonization and decolonization processes in Africa. Besides reflecting on the outcomes of colonialism and neo-colonialism, the three essays in a certain way represent a response to each other. In other words, I believe that when comparing the three essays, Achebe sort of sets the ground for discussing territorial, mental and intellectual colonization, while Chinweizu and Ngugi develop and deepen Achebe’s thoughts.

            The African colonization process when analyzed through the perspective of exploitation can certainly be characterized as cruel and unfair. Allan Lester, in his article “ Settlers, the State and the Colonial Power: The Colonization of Queen Adelaide Province, 1834-37”,  considers that the nineteenth century is featured as a period of dramatic changes in the African political scenario in which African kingdoms and empires suffered deep modifications in their political structure. In the long run, political instability aligned to lack of competitive technological warfare, results in the Africans’ inability to organize and maintain effective resistance force against the European invaders.  The so-called humanitarian aspect of colonialism hid despotic policies, which resulted in mental and intellectual colonization (1998, p. 237). Later on, in the age of decolonization, William Zartman in his article, “Europe and Africa: decolonization or dependency?” questions to what extent Africa is truly being decolonized. The author further elucidates that while sovereign and military control was removed from the African territory, Europe still kept exerting political and economic control. Last but not least, the European cultural conditioning remained affecting Africa and Africans in several areas such as the construction of knowledge in the “African literature” (1976, p. 326).

            The concept of African literature has been intensively debated among African writers. Among the most popular topics are the imposed influence of European elements on Africans writers and the usage of English and other national languages when writing about African culture and literature. Gikandi (2008) delimits the occurrence of what is now known as modern African literature in the crucible of colonialism. He also clarifies that although oral literature and Arabic writing were thriving practices in the pre-colonial period, the current literary scholarship could not have happened if Africa and Europe had not faced an impactful encounter (p. 54). That said, much has been discussed about the state of African literature and its definition. For instance, during the Makerere University conference in 1962, the final verdict about African literature and its definition is, “creative writing in which an African setting is authentically handled or to which experiences originating in Africa are integral” (Ten, 2011). Nonetheless, Achebe (1975) discords with that small and neat definition; the author complements highlighting that African literature should not be seen as one single unit but as a group of connected units (246).

            Assuming Achebe and Gikandi’s principles that African literature is a complex interaction between national and international cultural elements, one can clearly notice that in “Things Fall Apart”, Achebe responds to Conrad’s novel “The Heart of Darkness”, showing the clash between colonialism and traditional culture using the Africans’ point of view. Achebe provides Africans and the rest of the world with a different perspective about his country and culture. As a consequence, the author opens doors for other African authors to write about themselves and their culture as autonomous individuals. Old paradigms such as the classification of Africans as “rudimentary souls” presented by Conrad were fiercely questioned by Achebe (p.41). Later on, in “Decolonizing the African Mind”, Chinweizu (1987) urges the reader to start the “re-Africanization” process, in which consists of the restoration of the African cultural personality. Chinweizu believes that Africans were culturally conditioned by two different factors: the Europeans using industrial civilization as means of control and the Arabs using religion and the promises of the celestial kingdom. At this point, one can attribute the “dismantling of white supremacist beliefs” practice, suggested by Chinweizu as an element that is also present in Achebe and Ngugi’s works. For instance, Achebe in “ An image of Africa”, makes it clear through the statement, “ […] quite simply is the desire- one might say the need- in Western psychology to set Africa as a foil to Europe, as a place of negation, at once remote and vaguely familiar, in comparison with which Europe’s own state of spiritual grace will manifest […](p.108). In other words, the British point of view expressed by Conrad in his novel corresponds to an image of Africa as the antithesis of Europe and as a consequence, an antithesis of civilization. Thus, Achebe is angered by the Africans’ dehumanization presented by Conrad, which also resides in Chinweizu’s concept of “white supremacist beliefs”.

            Another interesting point is the longstanding debate about using English as a communication vehicle of African literature. Ten (2011) interestingly sheds light on how Ngugi is appreciative of Achebe’s complex novels and to a certain extent was inspired by him. Nonetheless, Ngugi radically accused Achebe of betrayal because of using English when writing African literature. Furthermore, Ten (2011) explains Achebe’s “preference” for writing in English since it would be challenging to reach out for readership on a large scale if he published in his mother language. For Achebe, the advantages of promoting African literature and preserving Africans’ history and customs using English, surpass the disadvantage of also promoting the “oppressors’ language”. On the opposite end of the spectrum in the debate, Ngugi fiercely attacks the usage of English when writing about African literature. Ngugi’s point of view is that besides being a communication vehicle, language also carries a nation’s culture, history, tradition and ideals (p.02). Indeed, to some extent, one might wonder if deep cultural aspects of a given nation would not be possibly lost in translation when switching from the mother tongue to a national language such as English. How authentically and effectively portrayed would the African culture be, if the writer is taking the risk to lose the intricacies of his mother tongue? In addition, Ngugi (1993) addresses what is almost a lack of respect to Africa and its culture; the so-called experts in African literature are not required to have a minimum knowledge or familiarity with any African language. It is almost unquestionable that a French literature expert would have to know how to speak the French language. While both Achebe and Ngugi are concerned about preserving disappearing cultures, Achebe seems to be more acquiescent to the reality of post-colonial Africa. Contrarily, Ngugi acts more radically and calls for resistance against ongoing oppression in a continent under the influence of neo-colonialism.

            Another common element among the essays of Achebe, Chinweizu and Ngugi can be represented by an excerpt of a 2008 Transition interview in which Achebe affirms that, “I think that where we’re headed is the final realization that Africans are people: nothing more and nothing less.” Whether through Achebe’s common sense, Ngugi’s radical attitudes or Chinweizu’s exhortation to critical thinking, all of them urge the readers to notice Africans as people: “nothing more and nothing less”. Thus, the understanding of Africans as people also means the understanding of their full intellectual, cultural, political and economic capabilities. In “Creating Space for a Hundred Flowers to Bloom”, Ngugi (1993) brilliantly recalls how literary and intellectual movements are often a reaction to social and economic domination. For instance, one might cite the Negritude Movement in which the writer Senghor shifted the ideology of response to racism to a political movement exhorting Africa’s independence.  Although there are several definitions of the Negritude Movement, it is quite complex to achieve a common denominator since it addressed many areas of thought.  Examples are Sartre’s definition as “antiracism racism” and Irele’s as “the quest for identity in the heritage of African civilizations’ histories” (Lowder, 2003, p. 4). Another interesting aspect to point out is that the evolution of the Negritude Movement also reflects Senghor’s life. In other words, Senghor’s duel identity as an African and French man and his struggles to integration reflected on his writings. As consequence, the Negritude Movement was a product of colonialism, as was Senghor.

            To conclude, one might infer that probably the most important common element among Achebe, Chinweizu and Ngugi’s essays is the fully realization of Africans as capable people. In order to acknowledge Africans as capable people, it is important to respect the African culture and their sovereignty as means of collaborative production with other nations, not submissiveness. The three authors recognize the need of interaction with European nations, however, the Europhone should have its proper place; as a “footnote in African literature” (Ngugi, 1993, p. 156).  Also, the three authors believe in learning and enriching through diversity, provided that Africans apply their critical thinking and decide whether or not to use foreign elements to their benefit. The decolonization process is more than an external battle; it is a battle within each individual against ingrained cultural conditioning.

References

Davis, Paul et all. The Bedford Anthology of World Literature: 20th Century. 3rd ed. Vol. 6. Santa Barbara: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. Print.

Gikandi, Simmon. “African Literature and the Colonial Factor.” African and Caribbean Literature. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2012. 379-397. Print.

Lester, Alan. “Settlers, the State and Colonial Power: The colonization of Queen Adelaide Province, 1834-37. The Journal of African History. 39 (2):221-245.Jstor. Cambridge University Press. Web. 28 Sept. 2014.  http://www.jstor.org/stable/183597

Lowder, Deborah. “From Racism to Universal Hybridity: The Evolution of Leopold Sedar Senghor‟s Negritude.” Academia.edu 19 Mar. 2003. Print.

Moore, David, Heath Analee, and Chinua Achebe. “A Conversation with Chinua Achebe.”Transition 100 (2008): 12-33. Jstor. Indiana University Press. Web. 27 Sept. 2014. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20542537 .

Ten, Kristina S. “Vehicles for Story: Chinua Achebe and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o on Defining African Literature, Preserving Culture and Self.” Student Pulse 3(05) (2011). http://www.studentpulse.com/a?id=530>

Zartman, William. “Europe and Africa: Decolonization or dependency?” Foreign Affairs 18 Jan. 1976. Foreign Affairs. Web. 28 Sept. 2014. <http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/25081/i-william-zartman/europe-and-africa-decolonization-or-dependency&gt;.

Socio-Emotional Needs during Early Adolescence

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Adolescents_WEB

        When it comes to the topic of teaching middle school, most of us will readily agree that physical, cognitive and neural changes play a major role in the principles and methods of instruction. In order to have a successful educational system, it is determining factor that middle school teachers understand those transformations and are able to respond to them efficiently. In other words, teaching early adolescents goes beyond specific methods of instruction of a given subject, it requires an array of information about developmental topics and the broadening of one’s clinical skills (Brown and Knowles, 2007, p.13).

          Adolescents’ sleeping patterns, physical and cognitive development and socio-emotional regulation are variables that will interfere in their academic results. In addition, the developmental differences between male and female and the difference in time, might even increase conflicts in the classroom environment. The cognitive transition explained by Brown and Knowles (2007) might also result in classroom disparities since students might move from concrete to formal thought at different paces. Therefore, it is imperative that teachers cognitively challenge early adolescents in order to optimize learning during this period of brain growth (33).

        It is unquestionable the impact of physical, cognitive and neural changes in the personal and academic life of a young adolescent; however, one should also pay close attention to the socio-emotional aspect of those changes, and how teachers and parents could help their students/children learn to regulate themselves.  As in early childhood development, early adolescents might have a hard time regulating their emotions due to those drastic changes. Another interesting point in common is that both infants and young adolescents face intense brain growth through brain connections and pruning. That said, one might infer that the socio-emotional component of development in early adolescence is as important as in early childhood. In other words, parents and teachers should “be there” for their child/ student. They should make efforts to truly understand the early adolescents’ conflicts and not diminish their degree of importance. Parents and teachers should promote a safe learning and exploring environment, welcoming their children back to either delight in their new discoveries or comfort them.

        The concept of secure attachment developed in the early years is certainly extended to adolescence and adult life, and should also be well known and practiced by middle school teachers (Circle of Security, 2015).  An example of the consideration of the socio-emotional aspect of development in the early adolescents’ lives is given through the story of Rimm in our text book, “[…] this year a teacher liked me. She told me I was good at writing, math, and music and that I had a good personality. Her confidence made me feel different, but in a good way. I started making friends and felt smart and better about myself (Brown and Knowles, 2007, p.23).” The teacher mentioned clearly comforted the student when he needed to have his “cup filled”. After that, one can clearly see the circle of security restarting again, where the student can finally “go out” and safely explore and feel good about himself.  To conclude, I believe that equal importance should be given to all the major physical, cognitive, neural and socio-emotional changes in early adolescents’ lives since they affect academic performance, and that teachers should be well prepared to respond to them in an academic and clinical way. All of that certainly makes “teaching middle school a tricky business”.

References:

Brown, Dave F, and Trudy Knowles. “Understanding the Young Adolescent’s Physical and Cognitive Growth.” What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know. 2nd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2007. 290. Print.

“Circle of Security.” Circle of Security. 19 Dec. 1998. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <http://circleofsecurity.net/resources/handout/&gt;.