End of year reflection - Jill Herzig

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Class Overview and Review of Great Book-Jill Herzig

Class Overview

As I reflect on this academic year, I must say I have learned a great deal. The most noticeable difference is in my writing style and the improvement I have shown as the year progressed. As an educator, we do not have the opportunity to write as we did in college and as a result we lose the edge to write creatively. When I took on the task to write a grant for my grading contract, I was not at all confident I could compose something I would deem worthy of submission. With the help of my colleague, Beth Cramer, I believe we created a wonderful proposal that was most likely the best piece I have ever written. In going through the editing process, the old lessons began to resurface and I looked forward to continuing our writing each day.

The other outlet for creative writing was the reflection of the UTNE Reader and selected professional journals. I began the first assignments with a great deal of anxiety and doubt, but as the paper grew beneath my fingers so did my confidence. I enjoyed the variety of subject matter these assignments exposed us to. I do need to comment though on the need to continue the expansion of our exposure to different types of journals. I do not particularly like all the subject matter within the pages of the UTNE Reader and would like the opportunity to study other worthy journals.

I also have learned a great deal in the area of technology. One of the goals I set at the beginning of this year was to improve my skills in the area of computer technology. I have now completed two computer classes and am half finished with a third. There are many valuable "nuggets" I have gleaned from these classes such as; PowerPoint, desktop publishing, databases, internet capabilities and many more. I enjoyed the instructor David McCarthy and thank him for showing such flexibility when I was pregnant by letting me complete my portfolios through independent study.

Another strength of my learning experience was the exposure to the book "The Quality School." I found some very useful information that was applicable in the school in which I work. The author had some insight into the problems educators face today and had some relevant solutions to these problems. I was able to apply the methodology of group work in my junior high Algebra class and saw a difference in the students. I saw them take ownership of the assignments and the subject matter when they had some control of how the class was taught. There are some things I feel could be improved upon for next year. Some of the class time we had was wasted with lectures from the green textbook. Engaging in more group discussions instead of constant lecturing could have used this time more efficiently. I enjoyed many of the texts we read, especially the great book, and was disappointed that we were not able to share it with our groups. I would like to see more projects like this where we communicate with each other to learn the opinions of those around us. Most often the best learning is done by interacting with the people around you. We are just getting to know one another and this would prove beneficial, I believe, because we come from such diverse educational backgrounds and educate in a variety of institutions.

The videotapes brought in were of varied quality. We had some that were difficult to hear and understand. If this information is pertinent, then we should have the luxury of a professor on-sight delivering the information first-hand so we can ask questions. Also it would be nice to see the entire presentation, not just what the videotape can offer.

I am confident that next year will be successful with the continuation of or thesis writing. I am looking forward to a summer of research and writing. I hope that the staff at UMD will continue to be committed to us, and will help us achieve our goal of a master's degree at the end of this busy two-year period.

Great Book

The great book I chose to read was entitled "Reviving Ophelia- Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls." I was not disappointed in the book and would recommend it to all women especially the ones who have daughters. It is a collection of real stories that depict the everyday trials and tribulations girls face growing up in today's society and how we as adults can pave the way for our young people.

The question raised by the author, Mary Pipher is, How come more teenage girls are in therapy in the 1990s than in the 1960s? She states that girls of this age group are more apt to be involved in alcohol and drug use, be self-mutilators, have an eating disorder, get in trouble with the law, be sexually active, hate their parents, and try or succeed in a suicide attempt. The question is "Why?"

The answer, it seems, is complex and hard to define. The root of all that is wrong is in the way girls are brought up and the society in which they live. Girls may be pre-teens that are well adjusted and creative and somehow during adolescents this gets suppressed and the girls become sad and angry. This concept is not hard to believe with all the mixed messages in today's society. As an educator of middle school children, I see this suppression time and time again. It is frustrating and a little scary to watch these girls change before my eyes. I see young, bright students try to fit into an unrealistic mold created by the media and society where sexuality is prevalent. It portrays an unrealistic view of what girls should look like and how they should act. The stereotype is of a slim, beautiful girl with perfect skin, a perfect shape, who is intelligent, athletic, and outgoing. This would be a difficult mold for anyone to fit into let alone a young girl just discovering her wings.

These teens seem to be having more trouble now then we did as teenagers in the 1970's. This seems hard to believe at first with the women's movement, the traditional roles of women in the workplace having moved toward equality, and women having entered the arena of professional sports. With all these advantages, girls have become more confused at to what their roles are, and feel more inferior when they don't measure up. The reality is that men still dominate the majority of the high paying jobs and women are still valued in most cases by their looks first and their mind second. This sets up an unrealistic and unattainable goal for them to achieve.

How do we as parents and teachers help these teens? We want to teach them to be assertive and confident in a world of rapists and kidnappers. We want to teach them to be independent and yet our instincts tell us to hold on tight because the world is a scary place even for adults. We send them to school to be safe, but even in schools; violence and trauma are more commonplace everyday.

What can we do to help them? We can give them strength by encouraging emotional toughness and self-protection. More importantly according to the author, we can change the culture. We can work together to nurture our young people, demand less violence and sex in the media and promote activities that are growth-producing. We have an obligation to give our daughters a safe haven to grow up in and the foundation to become successful. We must set the groundwork that will promote a feeling of confidence from within and make them constantly aware that they are appreciated and special. " Let them flourish like a green tree under the sun and stars."

-- Anonymous, May 17, 1999


Hi Jill, CONGRATULATIONS! Your research proposal has been submitted to Ed Lundstrom on Friday, June 4, 1999! A very complete job you have done and I hope you will be glad to share with other cohort members to encourage them along the way. Way to go! Thank you, Mary Ann

-- Anonymous, June 06, 1999

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