Friday, June 17, 2011

Talking Point #6 – Making Room for One Another by Gerri August: Quotes

This video clip is about a young boy named Alex, who has two moms. Alex tells about how his life with his peers is impacted because he is from a "non-dominant" family structure...

After reading the three selected chapters from Making Room for One Another by Gerri August, it was obvious that the main purpose of her observations was to see how students interact and engage in a classroom “led by a teacher committed to democratic pedagogy” (pg. 3). August’s research and connections to many educational theorists provided much insight inside the kindergarten classroom that she visited. Her research primarily focused on the reactions of one specific student, Cody. Cody is a student of Cambodian heritage who was adopted by his lesbian moms when he was 5 months old. Throughout the time spent in Zeke’s kindergarten classroom, August learns through democratic lessons that Cody resists to mention anything about his two moms, even during a family unit. However, towards the end of her research, August realizes that the primary reason for Cody’s insecurity and not feeling “safe” to share family stories was not as much the fact that he had two moms, but rather his adoption. I felt the following three quotes were relevant statements within the text Making Room for One Another:
“But what if the purpose of schooling in a democratic society is not simply to transmit and reproduce the knowledge and culture of the present order but to evaluate social and political practices according to principles of democratic ideals and, further, to equip students to become active agents in the transformation of society.” (August, 2)
I felt this quote was extremely relevant to August’s text because it describes the key reason for her research in Zeke’s classroom. In other words, it states that schooling is not just about teaching the “knowledge” of society’s culture of power, but rather incorporating all cultures, beliefs, and ways of life into a curriculum that creates the best pedagogy for all students. Also, it prepares students for society, and informs them that all people have differences that need to be respected. Zeke does this in his classroom by letting the students share personal stories during “Morning Meeting”. Letting the students from non-dominant family structures share seems to create an acceptance of differences in Zeke’s classroom. This actively engages all students and teaches them that it is okay to wear different clothes, be a different color, or even have a different family in society today.
“He [Zeke] wanted students to stretch their social schemas that were already constrained by dysconscious biases.” (August, 143)
As stated after this quote in Chapter 5, children tend to “participate in dominant social systems”. This statement is supported several times throughout the chapters when Zeke creates activities that ask for students to share their opinion (ex. “Yes is Winning). It always seems that the students point out their classmates who are somehow “different”. When reading, this quote caught my attention because it not only describes what Zeke wanted to do, but shows what kind of teacher he is. Zeke wanted to create an environment for his students in which all students were comfortable to talk about things that personally affected them. He wanted them to really think about these topics and try to put aside any subconscious influences that they may have already been exposed to.
“Zeke demonstrated how an awkward moment can be transformed into a teachable moment
There were many instances throughout August’s research that shows how Zeke transformed an awkward moment for a student into a significant teaching moment. One example of this was when Jackson came into the classroom with shorts on that resembled pajamas, the students pointed to him and said that he was wearing pajamas. Zeke quickly takes this uncomfortable and embarrassing moment for Jackson and says “I’ve got a pair at home just like them.” (August 144). Zeke then went on to explain that there are “many different kinds of people from many different kinds of families who may wear different clothes.” Zeke’s teaching moments like this one is what created his classroom to be a comfortable place for students who learned through Zeke how to respect each others’ differences.


  1. Great blog! I am using it to do my extended comments. I agreed with many of your points! I loved your video.

  2. Alison, I really like the last quote you used. “Zeke demonstrated how an awkward moment can be transformed into a teachable moment”. I enjoyed reading all of the anecdotes and seeing how Zeke was always able to turn those awkward moments into teachable moments.

  3. I enjoyed reading your blog Alison. I really like the last quote you chose about teachable moments. In my role at Head Start I have the opportunity to spend time observing in many different classrooms so I get to experience many different teachers and teaching styles. Although some of them are great at making a teachable moment out of almost any situation I frequently see those opportunities missed or overlooked.