Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Does the Department of Sociology fulfill USC’s mission statement? Yes it does, however improvements can still be made, especially to fulfill the future visions of USC. The sociology department at USC offers a wide selection of courses from medical sociology to deviant behavior; four of which are required. These required courses fulfill the mission statement because they include teaching, research, artistic creation, professional practice, and public service. The sociology department’s “strength are enhanced through research and teaching partnerships.” Through these partnerships, students observe, tutor, and research children in the local schools. Although these classes fulfill the mission statement of the University, there are some problems.
For any 300 level courses there usually is only one professor who teaches each topic and the classes are around 50 people. It is important to have variety among professors; one professor may be more visual and others more auditory. Different students require different methods of teaching and with only one professor per topic many students’ learning needs are not met. As for the class size, this issue can easily be fixed with smaller discussion sections with the TAs once a week for an hour. Increasing the number of professors teaching the same class can also help with the size because there would be more classes for the same subject. In addition to the classes being large, some students cannot get into the classes they need because there is only one section of it. The first week of classes this semester there were at least ten students who needed to enroll in each of my sociology classes to be able to graduate but could not because the classes were full. If more sections were available there would not be a problem with getting into a specific class. With only completed one semester in the sociology department I have not been exposed to other areas that might need improvement.
My comments on how to improve the undergraduate sociology department and the University of Southern California will help achieve the future visions of USC. Will smaller class sizes and more professors, more research can be conducted to make USC one of the most influential research institutions. As human beings we constantly strive for perfection and whenever we reach one goal we create a new one. Even if these improvements are made to the sociology department, someone else will find other improvements, bringing it that much closer to perfection.
Monday, April 02, 2007
The woman I would choose to nominate for a USC Honorary Degree would be Barrie Throne. She fits excellently into the first category of scholarly and academic achievement. Barrie Thorne is a prominent sociologist with a focus on feminism. She is the co-director of the Center for Working Families in Berkeley as well as a professor of Women Studies at UC Berkeley. She has written several books including Feminist Sociology: Life Histories of a Movement, Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School, and many more. Also, Thorne is the recipient of the Jessie Bernard Award. This award “is given in recognition of scholarly work” that have contributed greatly to the field of sociology by the American Sociological Assosiation. In addition, it is given to those whose work “has enlarged the horizons of sociology to encompass fully the role of women in society”.
Thorne embodies these traits as a scholar, researcher, teacher, and mentor. Thorne has also received other numerous awards for teaching and mentoring. She has accomplished great achievements for the feminist movement. But the main reason for this nomination would be her contribution to ethnography. She argues that the way we research children is ineffective. Children need to be studied separate from all other spheres. In addition to her studies on children and women, her work also focuses on sociology of age relations, sociology of gender and ethnographic methods.
Barrie Thorne is an excellent nominee for a Doctor of Science Honorary Degree. In my encounters with professionals and non-professionals I have found that they do not consider sociology as a science. By honoring Thorne with this degree can prove otherwise. Sociology is based in research just like every other science. There is a stigma that sociology is an easy area because it is simply what a person thinks. This stigma needs to be removed because years of research go into every theory in sociology. This is the reason why it would be specifically appropriate for Thorne to receive a USC Honorary Degree; to dispel the notions, even of some professors, that Sociology is not a science, when certainly it is. If Barrie Thorne were to be chosen to speak at commencement she could talk about the importance of sociology and specifically the importance of finding new methods of research in any field. All fields, from history to science, have some form a research involved. Without new methods, the areas of study would come to a stand still. We need to continuously try and better ourselves and society through new ways of research, in all fields including sociology. A woman like Barrie Thorne would be an incredible asset to the University of Southern California.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Through observations in elementary and high schools, I have seen the effect of a sociological background. My mentor, Dr. Barbara Gereboff was a sociology major in college and then continued to get her graduate degree in education. She is now a principal of an elementary/middle school. I have seen her work with students and she has a better understanding of social situations and is better equipped to deal with different types of students and families. Compared to the other principals that I have had, she has far surpassed them on the level of understanding her students. If more teachers had this background then classes would run more smoothly and the needs of more students would be met.
To be a good teacher one must first have a mastery of the material one wishes teach. I want to teach math and I have taken all concrete math classes available, I feel that that this is enough knowledge of math to teach all levels of high school. Second, a teacher must be able to control the classroom and all the situations that will arise. This does not come easily for some people, this is why sociology is helpful; one can predict certain situations and fix them quicker and more easily than others, providing more time for actual studies. Classes like childhood sociology are especially helpful. This course teaches how children and childhood are conceptualized and perceived from an adult perspective. Knowing this I will be able to take more of children’s actions into account.
Two important sociologists that have influenced my beliefs are Barrie Thorne and Valerie Ann Moore. In Barrie Thorne’s “Girls Boys Together…But Mostly Apart: Gender Arrangements in Elementary Schools,” Thorne explains through her observations in her ethnography how she saw children created their own ideas about gender. In Valerie Ann Moore’s “The Collaborative Emergence of Race in Children’s Play: A Case of Two Summer Camps” she explores how children construct race at summer camp.
Knowing and understanding these situations help prepare teachers for situations in the classroom. It help prepares them to understand children’s backgrounds and why they act the way they do. Sociology provides tools to overcome many obstacles brought by students in school. The amount of research and information on these subjects reinforce my core belief that sociology and education go hand in hand. I do not feel that educators today are fully prepared for the situations they will encounter. But those will a sociological background will have a much easier time fixing the problems. I know that these skills that I will acquire from my sociology major will benefit me in the future.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
They use MySpace.com as an example. They argue that youth today want all the attention on them. On myspace.com people can create profiles with pictures and information about themselves. Yes, this website does shout “look at me look at me” but it is also a great networking tool. Similarly, there is facebook.com. The same argument can be said here that people just want to show off and make sure everyone knows how special they are. But there are so many great uses to facebook.com. Similar to myspace.com, facebook.com provides networking. You can see who is in your class if you need notes or want to study and you can find old friends that you otherwise would not be able to find. These profiles are not purely vanity. More and more facebook.com profiles are used for recruitment for jobs. With this shift, it is obvious that people will put their best on facebook.com and show off. They want to show that they are the best and deserving of the job, even if they personally do not feel this way.
The student run newspaper at the
Perhaps youth of today are more self absorbed and narcissistic, but the world requires them to be. Being timid and reserved does not guarantee a job.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Response: Stamping out the stigma of mental illness
Mental illness can fall into two types of stigma: discredited and discreditable. Discredited means that stigma is not easily hidden. For example, it is not easy to hide the stigma of being homeless, therefore homelessness is discredited. But, discreditable means that stigma is hidden and not noticed. An example of this is eating disorders because it is not usually visible. Mental illness falls under the former if someone with an illness is not treated or the treatment does not work. But on the other hand being diagnosed and given a treatment can hide the fact that someone has a mental illness. True, taking medication provides another stigma, but this also can be discreditable. A child is stigmatized at school when he is socially awkward, but if he is medicated and acts normally he is no longer stigmatized as crazy. Therefore I agree that “Knowledge of mental illness appears by itself insufficient to dispel stigma”. However, research and use of medication can reverse it.
Response: Reversing the stigmatization of mental illness?
I wanted to point out the similarities between what you call institutionalization and the American term medicalization. This is when the medical profession takes custody over certain issues, like mental illness. In the past, in
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Every generation thinks they were angels as children but their children are little devils. According to the sociology of childhood and Dr. Sternheimer, when adults look back at their childhood they remember through children’s eyes, not adults. How can it be claimed that chidlren are worse today than they were fifty years ago? Well what was going on in the 1950s? Elvis. Music is a big part of generation gaps. Parents, for the most part, considered Elvis Presley as symbol of deviance. The sexual movement of his hips was unacceptable. Parents did not understand why their children liked this rock and roll. A common connection to adolescent music is some sort of deviant behavior. Parents feared that if children listen to this music they will do drugs, commit crimes, become more sexual, and so forth. But to understand why children today seem so much worse than fifty years ago, the definition of child and its connection to innocence must be closely monitored.
When adults think of children they think of innocence. In my sociology class we were asked to write down synonyms to the word child. Words like immature, innocent, hopeful, cute, carefree, and others came up. But when asked to do the same for adults we found that most words were the opposite we put for child. It is in the definition of the term child that causes the problem. Society expects children to act in a certain manner even if children have never acted in that way before.
These claims could easily manifest into a moral panic. A moral panic is when the moral, ethics, and interests of a society are threatened. The fear is much bigger than the actual panic and there is always a group that will benefit. Childhood behavior could easily fall under a moral panic. Adults are scared and threatened of children and adolescents. An actual threat does exist, but the fear is disproportional to that threat. An example would be the school shootings in the 1990s. It would seem, because of new coverage, that there was an outburst of school shootings and violence in the 1990s when in fact there was a decline in number of children killed in schools. Statistically a child is twice more likely to be killed by lightning than killed at school. Media and news coverage add to the panic because they provide constant footage and information. The reason there seemed to be an increase in school violence was because there was more media coverage than there was in the past.
Forensic psychologist Marta Weber states that parents spend less and less time with their children because of work. She believes that lack of parent involvement has helped create these behavioral issues. Over 200 years ago in the colonial period children worked starting at the age of seven. There was even less parent involvement then. During the Industrial Revolution in the 1850s children were sent away to school or work and had very limited parent involvement. Throughout history there have been times where there has been no parental involvement and no behavioral problems. The correlation Weber is trying to make between parental involvement and child behavior is weak.
Children today are no worse than children fifty years ago. Children have changed, this is true, and so have their behaviors. But their behaviors are not worse, just different. Some are even the same. “Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.” This has been and most likely will always be how adults feel about children in general.
Monday, February 12, 2007
This is a short message to inform you, the readers, that this week’s blog will be slightly different from the past two. Instead of consisting of a blog entry responding to current events in the educational/sociological field, it will respond to two recent blog entries. The two entries, Math education: An Inconvenient Truth and In Search of Constructivist Teachers, relate to the first blog, Decline in American Math Levels: Myth or Fact? The former blog explains that some math textbooks are missing important information, for example the mathematical symbol pi, and since the information is not in the textbook that information is not taught. The later examines the concept of constructivist theory and why it is not found in a mathematical context. The two entries are connected because each asserts blame of problems in math education on different sources. Below are the responses to the two entries. Perhaps both poor math textbooks and lack of new educational methods produce the problems in math education.Comment on Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth
Wanting to be a math teacher in the near future, I find this extremely disturbing. It is unfortunate that children miss out on important information because textbooks lack the needed curriculum. Like you said, this is not uncommon. Here is a table, slightly outdated, but still relevant, that shows the quality of math textbooks. Most of the textbooks are shown to be of poor quality. It is so distressing that such an important subject as mathematics lacks adequate textbooks. Also, as one response to your blog said, many times outside sources are looked down upon by head masters and department heads. In all the math classes I have taken, in both high school and college, I could have easily never have gone to class because the lecture was straight from the book. I was not aware of any missing information because it was not pointed out or included by the teacher. Better textbooks are greatly needed to bridge the gap in math education.Comment on In Search of Constructivist Teachers
I am a student at the
Monday, February 05, 2007
The issue is do students of private schools receive an adequate education when they spend significantly less time on secular subjects? Although religious private schools spend less time on subjects they need less time. The reason is because the class sizes are smaller and the student teacher ration is significantly lower than that of public schools. The size of the class made up for the shorter class period because there was more student teacher interaction and the students were able to grasp the information quicker. I researched two Los Angeles Jewish day schools,
But education does not just include classes in school. What about education outside of the classroom, extra curricular activities? Do private school children have time for extra curricular activities when they have double the work load of those children in public school? The answer is yes. I concluded that private school children still have time for extra curricular activities by researching the after school opportunities at private schools. This picture shows one of
When parents decide whether to send their child to a private religious school or a public school the main issue is not money; it is the quality of the education. This is why it is important to note that the education at private schools and the opportunities at private schools are very similar if to that of public schools. Children will not miss out on important events in their life for going to private school, they will just experience them in a different atmosphere.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
In the past year SAT math scores have dropped by two points for both males and females. Without going into more depth it would appear that American math levels are dropping. But an important fact to remember is that recently the SATs changed and fewer students are taking them twice. It is typical for scores to increase about 30 points when the SATs are taken a second time. In comparison to high school students in other countries, American students are well below the average in math scores. But according to John Mackey, the Carnegie Mellon’s assistant head of mathematical sciences, “Americans catch up, generally, as curriculum continues.” Almost all comparisons of American math levels to other countries have been K-12 and have not included college students. American students in American college and university tend to score similarly in math as college students in other countries. The scores used for comparisons have mostly been from SAT and AP exams. But the SAT and AP exams are standardized tests used only in the United States. To have an accurate score levels, the same test would need to be administered in all countries. But the chance of this happening is not likely. However, the type of test and age of the student is not the only factor, location also plays a part.
Different parts of the country have different definitions of what student proficiency is. One example is South Carolina and North Carolina. North Carolina has low standard of proficiency while South Carolina has higher standards. The same student doing well in North Carolina would most likely fail in South Carolina. This is proven by looking at SAT scores. Places that show higher SAT scores also show higher educational standards. There are some locations where math is not as important or focused on. This is the same with countries. Some countries find math education more important than other subjects while other countries focus on different skills. Many times subjects like the humanities and the arts are compromised to allow more time and concentration for math. While American schools do not provide great amounts of time for the humanities and arts, they do devote time to social sciences. American schools have a diverse education system and have content standards that must be achieved for every subject. Although it is important to have a diverse education, it is also important to have a strong math and science background with the rise in technology. Fewer American students are interested in math and science creating an even larger gap. Although, there is less of interest in these subjects, American levels are not declining, they are remaining stagnate.
At a quick glance it appears that American math levels are declining and that American students are falling behind students in other industrialized nations. This would appear true because of statistics and test scores. But at a closer look, taking in consideration the type of testing, the age of students, and what is academically important, American math levels are not declining. But while American math levels remain the same other nations’ math levels increase. Although American math levels are not declining it is still a growing concern since the rise in technology. Although math levels are not declining, Americans do need to catch up with their international counterparts if they wish to partake in this high tech world.