Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gerri August, "Making Room for One Another"

Gerri August: Quotes

Gerri August in her book, "Making Room for One Another" conducted a research project in a kindergarten classroom to answer the question of what happens when a child with lesbian parents and children from other non-dominant family structures share their family stories in a classroom that is led by a teacher committed to democratic pedagogy.  The educational system is in the midst of rapid changes pertaining to the dominate culture, social norms and in the definition of what constitutes a family. While schools struggle with how best to educate students for the future, they are also dealing with serious sociocultural differences that emerge in the classroom.  One of the targeted children in Gerri's research was a Cambodian boy "Cody" who was adopted by a lesbian couple and has two moms.  Although data did not allow for an interpretation, it was very interesting to see and experience how an individual from a non-traditional family might struggle with anxiety over his/her home life due to fear of ridicule, discrimination and or exclusion.
"Differences that make a difference (the particulars vary according to social context) can lead to otherizing and even exclusion." 
"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."
As Educators, we need to be aware of the different homes that are students come from so we can do our best to create a safe an comfortable environment that represents all families.  The two quotes above, clearly emphasis embracing each others differences and although the dominate culture is changing we need to preserve and reflect on the history of societal norms but accept and embrace the changes. It is our job as Educators to teach students to recognize yet accept and appreciate each others differences.  As the leader in the classroom, we can use some of the strategies recorded and represented in Gerri August's book that were demonstrated in Zeke's classroom to eliminate discourse, societal biasness, and have an understanding of more than just the dominant ideology. To create a classroom community with democratic pedagogy, teachers need to have a commitment to diversity and teach their students to value and accept people's differences.  The students need to provided with examples/scenarios and opportunities to share, comment and express themselves to work toward creating a positive classroom community.
"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".
I chose this quote because I was pretty surprised that PBS canceled an episode of Postcards from Buster because it focused on a family with lesbian moms. I think I was even more surprised that congress who helps fund PBS based on the federal governments Ready To Learn initiative said that Congress never intended that RTL funding would "introduce this kind of subject matter to children" and that many parents would not want their young children exposed to the life-styles portrayed in this episode. Last I checked, society has changed drastically and continues to change when thinking in terms of family.  With the high divorce rates, blended families and gay marriage equality, many families look and operate differently than the traditional nuclear family.  Children, in some way, will be exposed to some of the many different types of families.  Regardless of a families preference for what ever the reason, I feel as though parents  need to teach their children to understand the diversity of families in this country and not refrain from exposing them to today's reality.  Families are changing and PBS could have taught children about different families in a loving and appropriate format.


  1. Hi Nicole, I like the quotes you selected in particular the last one. I wish I could say I was shocked that Congress pressured PBS not to run the Postcards from Buster episode featuring a non-traditional family with 2 moms. I agree that we as a culture are evolving and that non-dominant family types are becoming more prevalent and more accepted, but I still encounter a lot of people who are strongly resistant to such changes and who are willing and able to speak out against anything that challenges their world view.

  2. Great blog! I liked the quotes you chose. I was surprised about that PBS show getting canceled as well! I actually wrote ridiculous in the margin!

  3. Great job with your quotes. The mere fact that PBS canceled the show speaks volumes to what is wrong in society now. CRAZY!