Summary of Learning: EC&I 831

As my final learning project I used MovieMaker to create a song and video parody of We Didn’t Start the Fire, entitled We Know ‘Bout Social Media.  I also added a sketch-up at the end to get more in-depth about the learning that had the greatest impact on me.

Here are some links where you can also read the lyrics and see the Image Credits. I apologize in advance for the quality of the audio recording and the vocals!!  (Especially the chorus – it’s not an easy song!  Also, I haven’t had much time to work on my singing career as I’ve been too busy teaching!)

For fun check out this  1990-2012 version of We Didn’t Start the Fire by Jaiethemusicman.

Creating this song and video was definitely a fun experience.  This is absolutely something I think students could have fun with!  I realize it does not get into much depth about what we learned.  So I will go into more detail in this blog entry as well as the sketch-up.  I will write about the concepts and ideas that had the most impact on me personally and professionally.  I will also explain my most important “take-aways” from this class as a teacher, a parent and an individual.

The sketch-up was also an interesting experience.  It is the first time I had done one of these.  These are also great ways for students to document their learning.

Which concepts had the most impact on me?

First of all, Michael Wesch‘s ideas about students being Knowledge-Able was really important.  It seems like common sense to me that we should always be making learning relevant.  And that we should see students as active participants in their learning, not just as vessels to fill full of knowlege. We need to be teaching students to follow their interests as well as where and how to find information.

Another article that I found really useful was John Seely-Brown and Richard Adler’s Minds on Fire.  They also talk about the importance of students being active participants in their learning.  Obviously this is an important concept of this class and education in general.  The Circle of Knowledge (Create-Use-Remix) is a very useful idea that educators can use as they plan for student learning.

Howard Rheingold’s Attention and Other 21st Century Social Media Literacies was another memorable read for me, and provides further direction for teacher planning.  The literacies of Attention, Participation, Collaboration, Network Awareness and Critical Consumption (“crap detection”) are all critical elements of what students need to know and be able to do now.  And again, these literacies intertwine perfectly with Seely-Brown&Adler and Wesch’s research.

George Siemens article on Connectivism also had a huge impact on me.  His ideas about small world, weak ties are interesting.  The idea that connections to strangers anywhere in the world might have a greater impact on certain aspects of our lives than our family and closest friends makes sense to me and is, I think, important when we think about our passions and what we want to achieve in life.  Also, Siemens ideas about making sense of chaos are significant because that is honestly what we are doing in schools, and let’s face it, in life, all the time.  I believe this is a critical skill that we need to be consciously working on every day; for ourselves and along with our students and our children.

Rhizomatic Learning (the idea that learning should be allowed to evolve organically) also relates to these ideas.  As teachers we need to let go of some of the control, guide our students, but allow the learning to happen as naturally as possible.  In my experiences, I have always been pleasantly surprised at what my students can do when I take this approach.  And they are happier and much more excited about learning as a result!

Clive Thomson’s Why Even The Worst Bloggers are Making us Smarter: How Successful Networks Nurture Good Ideas was another critical piece for me. The idea that when we have an audience we think more deeply about a topic and are forced to refine our thinking is a really important one.  As educators, this means we need to help our students find an audience.  I also find The Theory of Multiples fascinating.  The idea that many people might make the same discovery or invention at the same time simply because technology and knowledge are ready for it AND that these people may benefit from interacting with one another is truly important for development and innovation in our world.  Open source learning and connections are vital.

Laurence Lessig‘s work and the development of the Creative Commons is some of the most important work of our era, in my opinion.  The story of Aaron Swartz had a real impact on me.  Without people like Aaron and Lawrence who are willing to take risks and challenge the status quo we won’t move forward as a society or world-wide.

Of course the ideas of Net neutrality, equality for all, online activism and safety have all been important topics in class as well.  I have learned so much about these topics and as a result I can make more informed decisions and contribute to the conversation about these topics.  I still have much to learn, but at least I have a stronger foundation now.

Also I have really enjoyed the John Oliver videos!  I love how he can take an important topic or point, make sense of it and make it humorous at the same time.  I will keep watching John!

I’m sure that I have missed some important ideas, as there was so much we have learned.  Please add your most important learning in the comments below.

So what are my most important personal and professional  “take-aways” from this class?

As a learning resource teacher my ability to directly apply my learning to the classroom is somewhat limited.  However, I will do what I can within my role and as a colleague to encourage fellow teachers.  As an educator, an individual and as a parent there are many ways this class has affected me.

Through the course of this class I have gained skills and knowledge about blogging.  I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  But I have found blogging has given me a new outlet where I can voice my opinions and concerns and connect with others who have similar interests and concerns as me.  I have developed greater confidence in sharing my opinions both online and in person.  I will continue to blog and will encourage other teachers to use blogging with their students.  Of course, if I go back to teaching in a classroom I will definitely be blogging with my students.

I have also gained a greater knowledge of how to use twitter and voice my opinions in tweet-ups.  I had been using twitter for about 4 years prior.  But my understanding of the potential uses of twitter has definitely increased as a result of this class.

As a parent, I have learned even more about why it is important to be aware of what my children are doing online.  I have a responsibility to keep communication open with them and to guide them as intelligent, positive digital citizens; to keep them safe and to help them use technology and social media in beneficial ways as they grow into adults.

The ideas about teaching and learning have really confirmed and furthered my prior beliefs.  I have a larger repertoire of ideas about planning for active student learning and using technology in the classroom.  I also have added to my knowledge of teaching about social justice and activism, and allowing for students to follow their interests and passions.

Since the day I began teaching I have felt that we need to revolutionize education.  That belief has been reconfirmed for me time and time again.  The more I read and learn about the research, the more eager I am to see educational change.  It is way too slow for me.  I find it very frustrating.  I can only do so much as one person.  So I am glad to have connected with so many educators and other professionals who see the need for an educational revolution as well as overall societal change.  It helps us all to keep going, moving forward, taking small steps (or big steps) as we are able.  We need to stick together, continue to communicate and connect.  We can do so much more together.

Thanks to everyone for a fantastic learning experience!

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga Project: Final Self Assessment

Photo Source:The Resilience Centre

If you have been following along with my yoga journey, I thank you.  It has not been an easy road, honestly.  I want to talk about the goals I had at the beginning of this journey, which goals I achieved and which goals I still need to keep working on.

What were my goals:

  1.  To attempt to increase my energy, focus and positivity (and ability to manage the fast pace and stresses in my life)
  2. To fit in 3 sessions of yoga each week
  3. To find online resources for doing yoga in my own home (and attend some face-to-face yoga classes)
  4. To learn more about the history of yoga
  5. To learn more about the different types of yoga, the purposes of yoga, and which types of yoga were beneficial for what purposes
  6. To learn more about whether or not yoga is cultural appropriation
  7. To talk about the idea of yoga being part of a larger lifestyle and way of being
  8. Although I didn’t think to state it in the beginning, another goal I had in mind was to begin to blog about my experience of being a vegetarian and buying vegan products (also part of a yoga lifestyle)
  9. Another goal that I did not think to state at the start was finding an online community of other yogis

In order to keep track of goals #1 and 2 I kept a self-evaluation and a record of my yoga practice (see below).  I used a 4 point scale for the rubric which you can see here: Google Document of my Rubric and weekly Progress.

I would like to talk about my success first; Goals #3-9.

Goal #3: I believe I was quite thorough in researching the various Online Resources For Yoga .  There are literally millions, if you include all the videos on YouTube.  So obviously it was impossible to review them all.  I came to the realization that it was not necessary for me to pay for an online yoga site (which there are hundreds of).  I am very happy with the site that I have been using: Yoga with Adriene. I will continue to use this site.  I hope my reviews will be beneficial to others who may find my blog online.

I was not successful in attending any face-to-face yoga classes, as the times for nearby yoga studios just didn’t work well into my schedule.  As a busy person, I prefer to do my exercise in the comfort of my own home.  And I believe that is my prerogative.  Of course, I have attended yoga classes in the past and would consider it again, at times when my life is a bit slower paced.

Goal #4: Yoga History: I posted once about Yoga History 101 as well as Is Yoga Cultural Appropriation?.  I learned a great deal about the history of yoga during my research for writing these 2 posts.  I developed a greater understanding of the origins of yoga and an even deeper appreciation for it as a result.  I understand that our western view of yoga simply as exercise is not nearly sufficient.  I would love to have the ability to become a yoga teacher and continue to learn from well established and authentic yogis.  However, I don’t see that in my near future, unfortunately.  I also believe my research in this area can be useful to others who may have a similar desire to learn more about these topics.

Goal #5: Purposes and Types of Yoga:  I posted once about this.  I learned a lot from this research  and I hope this will be useful to others.  I would have liked to have spent more time actually trying each type and specific poses within each one.    I also would have liked to have done more research about meditation and pranayama (breathing exercises).  However, I believe both topics are too big for the time allotted in this particular learning project. So overall, I am happy with my research in this area.

Goal #6: I referred to my post on Cultural Appropriation in Goal #4.  I learned a great deal from this research.  I believe it is an important question.  I’m glad I included it in my project.

Photo Source: Pinterest

Goal #7 and 8: Yoga as a Larger Lifestyle:  I repeatedly shared this article about this concept.  For me, it is basically being calm and kind (to all living beings) in all things, at all times.  It includes thinking of our existence in an energetic-spiritual way, not just the physical. It might also include Being a Vegetarian and Buying Cruelty-Free, Vegan and Socially Consicous and Environmental.  It was empowering for me to share my experiences and opinions on these topics. I hope it will be beneficial for others to read these posts also.

Goal #9: Finding an online community of yogis: I have just begun to develop a following and find others who I want to follow.  But I feel like it is a good start.  I know that there are people out there that I can reach out to if I have questions, need support or just want to chat with someone who is similar to myself.  I am glad that I started on this journey and will certainly continue to blog, follow others and research further about these topics.

Ok, so those are the goals that I feel pretty good about.

Now for the ones that didn’t go as I had hoped: Goals #1 and 2:

The primary reason I chose this project was to see if I could keep up my energy and maintain my health and well-being throughout the course of this class, through regular yoga practice.  There are basically 3 parts to that statement: regular yoga practice, energy and overall health & well-being.  How did I do in those 3 categories?  I’m sorry to say I did not achieve any of those goals!

I had planned to practice yoga at least 3 times each week.  Unfortunately, I found that most weeks it was a struggle to fit in even 2 sessions of yoga.  Did I find it beneficial when I practiced yoga?  Yes, absolutely.  I don’t think there is any question that regular exercise of any kind is immensely beneficial for everyone.

As I was unable to fit exercise into my schedule at least 3 times a week, I did not receive the benefits of increased energy or overall well-being.  I was sick with flu and colds frequently.  I was frequently tired, I experienced a great deal of stress around completing all my daily responsibilities.  My overall well-being, I’m sorry to say, is not very good at the current time.

I was very disappointed about this.  I had always been able to fit exercise into my life previously.  I did it as a new teacher, during my pregnancies, after I had tiny babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and new-schoolers.  At this point in my life, I find it the most difficult to maintain a regular exercise practice.  I miss it.  And my health is missing it also.

Are there other factors involved?  Yes, of course.

I have not been getting enough sleep throughout this time, which makes it difficult to exercise, reduces energy, makes one more likely to get sick and also increases the likelihood of emotional and mental stress.

Also, as any teacher can tell you, teaching is a stressful job.  And trying to balance the profession of teaching with raising a family is not easy.  The needs of the teacher/mom always seem to come in last.  And stress affects the body in so many ways.  My personal list of stress related complaints include migraines, general body ache, racing heart, heartburn, difficulty focusing sometimes, difficulty sleeping sometimes and loss of appetite or nausea at times.  This might seem like a long list.  However, it seems to be a rather common list for many teachers.  Many teachers experience  depression, panic attacks, anxiety and other emotional/mental/physical health problems.  It seems to me that teachers are at a higher risk of developing these issues compared to those in other professions, although the data on this may vary somewhat.  Dealing with the many issues regarding youth and the changing education system takes it toll.

I suppose it is unrealistic to expect yoga to fix all of this!  Well, perhaps if everyone in our society began to practice yoga…. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon!

Perhaps I could try harder to squeeze yoga into my life – get up earlier in the morning, be more “forceful” or disciplined with myself, try not to feel guilty about taking time away from my kids to do yoga or involve them in it.  Perhaps I could focus on other types of exercise that I can do with my kids and/or husband (especially now that it is spring): walking, shooting hoops, bike riding, etc.

In any case, I will continue to try to fit yoga and other exercise into my life.  I will also try to maintain everything I have learned about the yoga lifestyle.  I am thankful for all that I have learned through this project and will continue to learn more in the future.  I plan to continue to blog about these topics, as well as others.

Overall, I consider my yoga learning project a success.  It has given me the opportunity to learn more and develop a further appreciation for yoga.

Please see a complete list of my yoga project posts below.  And please share any thoughts you have about my yoga project.  Thanks for following!

Photo Source: Google

Google Document of my Rubric and Record of Weekly Progress

Weekly Self-Evaluation Record

Date (week of): # Yoga Sessions/ Type of Yoga Mental Focus Energy Positivity Comments
JAN23-JAN 30
1 Yoga For Energy 3 2 2
TIRED IN THE EVENINGS, FELT STRESSED ABOUT COMPLETING IIP REPORTS
Feb 6 2 Yoga For Energy 1 1 2
HAD THE FLU ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT  AND THURSDAY.  DIDN’T FEEL BACK TO HEALTH UNTIL SATURDAY.  VERY BUSY WEEKEND.  NOT ENOUGH YOGA!
Feb 13  1 Restorative Yoga  3  3  3
 LEFT FOR PHOENIX ON THURSDAY, RELAXED WITH FAMILY.
Feb 20  1 Restorative Yoga  2  3  2
 CELEBRATED HUBBY AND DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY.  CAME HOME TO FIND OUT MY MOTHER HAD FALLEN AND BROKEN HER LEG, SPENT TIME AT THE HOSPITAL
Feb 27  3Yoga with Adriene  3  2  2
 FOUND AN EXCELLENT SITE AND WAS ABLE TO FIT IN 3 SESSIONS OF YOGA.  FELT SOME STRESS DUE TO THE BUSY-NESS OF LIFE. DEFINITE PROGRESS
Mar 5  2Yoga with Adriende  2  1  2
 IT WAS A BUSY AND STRESSFUL WEEK – JUST ONE OF THOSE WEEKS!
Mar 12  2Yoga with Adriene  2  1  2
 WAS SICK THIS WEEK.  FIT IN 2 SESSIONS OF YOGA.
Mar 19  3Yoga with Adriene  3  2 3
 DEFINITELY FELT STRONGER, MORE ENERGETIC, MORE POSITIVE.  YOGA WAS BENEFICIAL.
Mar 26  2Yoga with Adriene  2  2  2
 VERY BUSY WEEK.  TIRED.

Weekly Self-Evaluations of my Yoga Progress   I Love Yoga!   The How and Why of My Yoga Project   Bikram, You’re a Disgrace   Yoga History 101   On Being a Vegetarian   O   nline Resources For Yoga   Buying Cruelty-Free, Vegan and Socially Consicous and Environmental   Purposes and Types of Yoga   Is Yoga Cultural Appropriation?   Yoga Progress Feb 20   Yoga Progress Feb 23   Yoga Progress March 2   Yoga Progress March 6  Yoga Progress March 19

 

Beyond Slacktivism

I have heard the term “slacktivism” a few times before taking it up in EC&I 831 this week. However, I hadn’t really thought much about it until now.

Techopedia states, “Slacktivism combines the words slacker and activist to refer to simple measures used to support an issue or social cause involving virtually no effort on the part of participants”.

Some say that slacktivism can have an impact on global social issues.

slacktivism1
Photo Source: On Social Media

In The Death of Slacktivism  Gilian Branstetter states that “2015 has proven that the Internet is more than an accessory to the real-world actions that change demands—it’s now a proven way to make it happen.”  Abby Rosmarin states in I Get It: You Don’t Like Slacktivism. Now Shut Up. Only Don’t  that slacktivisim creates awareness and makes social change easier. In Slacktivism is having a powerful real-world impact, new research shows Kate Groetzinger quotes a PLOS study reporting the positive impacts of slacktivism.  The author of How We Can Use Livestreaming Apps to Promote Social Justice who refers to a 2012 Georgetown Study  states that “Combined, the findings of these studies suggest we have entered an age of increased activism, both on the ground and online”.

However, there are critics of slacktivism.

Photo Source: On Social Media

In  #BringBackOurGirls Continues to Demand Return of Chibok Girls Nicolas Pinault draws attention to one example where online activism has been devastatingly unsuccessful.  On April 14, 2014 250 girls were kidnapped from a school in Chibok, Nigeria.  After a world-wide twitter campaign, #BringBackOurGirls, only 57 of the girls have been saved and interest in the story has drastically decreased.

The TedTalk How the Internet has Made Social Change Easy to Organize, Hard to Win by Zeynep Tufekci (see below) explains that online activism can only get social activist causes so far.  Zeyney asks “in embracing these technologies are we overlooking some of the benefits of slow and sustained (movements)?”.  Zeynep explains that the powers that be understand that sharing on social media is easier than movements that require more energy and time and therefore social activists may not be taken as seriously.  Zeynep states, “…you don’t necessarily see teeth that can bite over the long term”.  She also says “…the magic is in that capacity to work together, think together, collectively, which can only by built over time, with a lot of work.”  Zeynep is saying we need to create and sustain organizations and networks that work together for common goals over a long period of time.  And they must do more than retweet and like.

 

I would consider myself a slacktivist.  I often repost, retweet and like posts about social causes.  And I feel very passionate about those causes as I am doing so, even though I know this action is not nearly enough.  As my awareness and knowledge about these topics grows, I feel more and more compelled and capable of taking further action.  Without building my awareness through social media (and other sources) I might not know there was something to take action about.  Even when I know there is something to act on, I may now know how. Awareness is the first step.  Finding out what to do is the next step.  And it requires time, energy and support.

As I repost, retweet and like I am also making a statement about my own beliefs.  I have begun conversations (and yes,sometimes arguments) this way with friends and family.  This has helped me become more confident in my own voice and it confirms and deepens my beliefs. And has increased my ability to speak about these issues in a manner that people are more apt to hear. So my slacktivism has changed me as a person.  It has made me stronger.

I am confident that I will take further action on the issues I am passionate about in the future.  I believe it is important to post about the actions that we have taken, and can take to improve these situations.

So what are further steps that can be taken by slacktivist-come-social-activitist hopefuls, like myself?  Remember, I mentioned activism requires support?  Yes it requires a network.  It can’t be done in isolation.  So finding a network of support is vital.  You might also consider letter writing, starting a petition, walking or protesting,  or boycotting.

Until you feel ready to take it a step further, I think it’s okay to continue to be a slacktivisit and simply raise awareness.  I too, am still learning and gaining strength, knowledge and support.  I plan to begin taking actions in the near future to voice my opinions on social issues around me.  Even then, I will continue to post, repost, retweet and like, because it does, at least, increase awareness.

If you are interested in learning more about going beyond slacktivism see the helpful websites below.  And please share your thoughts on the topic.

Wikipedia: Activisim

Mobilizing Ideas

GroupThink Activism: What Works?

Social Media Today

LifelongActivist

SparkAction: Beyond Slacktivism

How to Empower Change On Social Media

 

Is Yoga Cultural Appropriation?

Yoga has become a popular activity in western culture.  I have been practicing yoga on-and-off for about 16 years and have recently started a learning project to try to learn more about yoga, improve my own yoga practice and discover if a regular yoga practice would increase my energy and well-being.  You can read more about that here.

Over the past year or so I have begun to hear this question more frequently: Is yoga cultural appropriation?  At first I was surprised by the question.  But it soon began to make more sense.

So first, let’s look at what exactly is meant by cultural appropriation, also sometimes known as cultural misappropriation.  Wikipedia defines it as “the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture”.   Wikipedia explains cultural appropriation further;  when elements of one culture (music, dance, spiritual ceremonies, modes of dress, speech and social behaviour) are adopted or “borrowed” by people of another culture.   When asking whether a behavior is cultural appropriation those who study it  consider the issue of colonialism; unequal relationships between indigenous peoples and the colonial power, or a marginalized group and a majority group.  They also consider whether the marginalized group feels disrespected by the behavior.  They ask whether these cultural elements are trivialized, used for fashion, or if they lose their original meaning.

Jaswir Dhillon claims that yoga is not cultural appropriation, but that yoga is for everyone, that it is beneficial for all and should be available to all.  I learned that yoga means “union”.  Dhillon is from India and has experienced colonialism firsthand.  I strongly urge you to read his article, as he explains these views so much better than I can.

SandhuBhamra-Yoga-Sketch

Photo source: Susanna Barkataki

Susanna Barkataki disagrees, and explains how to decolonize your yoga practice.  She states that the million dollar industry of yoga in North America has taken it out of context.  She explains that she is not saying that yoga is only for people from India, but that the true purpose must remain intact.  Barkataki offers 5 ways to decolonize your yoga practice: 1. look within yourself, 2. explore, learn and cite correct cultural references, 3. ask ourselves, and other yoga teachers, the hard questions, 4. live, know, share and practice all 8 limbs of yoga, not just asana and 5. be humble and honor your own and other people’s journey.

Anupreet Sandhu Bharma explains that you must consider whether yoga is religion or not before you can understand if it is cultural appropriation.  She tells us that Hinduism is difficult to compare to western religion.  There is no word for religion in Sanscrit.  The closest word that exists is Dharma, which can be understood as a righteous way of living.  Yoga was intended as a way to meditate and be at one with your spirit.  Bharma states that,  “it is through the practice of Yoga, one can reach Brahm, the Supreme, Absolute Divinity, attain moksha (loosely translated as liberation from the cycle of births and deaths)….the eternal way of life”.  Again I encourage you to read what Bharma has to say as it is truly insightful.

You can read more from S.E. Smith or Sarah Ratchford who agree that yoga is indeed cultural appropriation.  Or you can check on some conversations on Quora about the topic.  You can also learn about the Take Yoga Back movement.

After considering what these authors have to say here are my personal thoughts.  I have learned a great deal from what each author had to say and I plan to continue to learn more about the true purpose of yoga.  I will continue to be sensitive to the culture with which yoga orignated.  My yoga practice is in my own home.  I refuse to make it about capitalism and commercialization.  It is entirely about connecting myself to my inner spirit.  I also meditate and practice breath exercises.  I am just a beginner.  I have so much to learn.  I will continue to honour the origins of yoga.

So do I believe that western yoga is cultural appropriation?  I think it depends.  Yes, sometimes, I believe it is.  However, I believe it can be done in a manner that is not cultural appropriation.  I plan to follow the advice of Susanna Barkataki as I continue my yoga practice.

What are your thoughts?

 

 

Online Harassment and Societal Attitudes about Women

This week in EC&I 831 we are learning about the heavy but important topics of Trolls, Bullies, Racists and Masogynists on the internet. The readings for the week all relate to online harassment and threats, especially of women. I want to talk about how these online issues relate to societal attitudes in general. Additionally, I will talk about the term rape culture. I know this is a difficult subject. But it is one that infuriates me and that I believe we all need to talk more about.  I would also like to refer to the recent trial of Jian Ghomeshi.

John Oliver spoke about Online Harassment in a segment of Last Week Tonight.  By the way, I’m so glad John has a talent for making poignant, important statements in a hilarious format that gets people’s attention.  In this show John states, “ If (online threats don’t) seem like a big deal to you, well then congratulations on your white penis.” As you are busting a gut you realize John makes an important point.  This is a problem that generally affects women.  Men may not even notice.  They can look the other way.  John goes on later to say, “It can potentially affect any woman who makes the mistake of having a thought in her mind and then vocalizing it online.”  John also refers to the common practice of victim blaming in society and describes how poorly equipped police forces are to deal with these crimes.  Near the end of the show, John states, “It comes down to us and fundamentally changing the way we think about the internet because you hear people play down the dangers of the internet as they say ‘relax, it’s not real life’. But it is. And it always has been.”

In Matt Rozsa’s article With Gamergate, it’s Not Enough to Ignore the Trolls he explains that online harrassment is a gendered phenomenon and that 73%of cyber-stalking victims were female. He also quotes the Roman philosopher Seneca, “that shame may restrain what law does not prohibit”  Rozsa is referring to the unfortunate fact that our legal system does a poor job of protecting women from these crimes.  He is encouraging us to shame those who harass and threaten online.  We need to stand up to these harassers, not ignore them.  He quotes Amanda Hess who says, “No matter how hard we attempt to ignore it, this type of gendered harassment – and the sheer volume of it – has severe implications for women’s status on the internet.”He also writes about Caroline Criado-Perez who states, “If there’s one thing I want to come out of what happened to me it is for the term “don’t feed the trolls to be scrubbed from the annals of received wisdom”. Criado-Perez’s comments means that we need to stop telling women to just “shrug it off” when they are harassed and threatened online.

I agree with John and Matt.  Whether it is online or in real life, we need to stop blaming victims and change our attitudes.  I believe we live in a society that allows, even encourages, men to see women as objects.  We see images of nearly naked women acting sexual to sell everything from cars and beer to clothes.   Movies and music still portray women as objects to be controlled and used.  Remember that it wasn’t really that long ago that women were literally considered property.  We have not even reached the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in Canada or the U.S.

Now I would like to go a bit further and talk about rape culture.  Please stay with me here.

Wikipedia describes the term rape culture  as”a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal views about gender and sexuality”.

Last week Jian Ghomeshi, a Canadian journalist, was acquitted on all charges of rape and choking of three women.  The reaction to this verdict was split.  Some said that justice had been done as the judge could not find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Many were outraged.  Outraged because this keeps happening.  Most women who are raped do not report.  Those that do, generally do not have justice on their side.

 

 

Photosource: Huffpost Canada

Let’s think about it for a moment.  How can rape be “proven”?  If the woman immediately goes to a doctor and has any marks on her body she will have a better chance of proving she was raped.  However, if she does not go to a doctor, or if there are no marks on her body, her chances of “proving” the rape happened are not good.  It is her word against his.  And even if there are marks on the woman’s body, and the man says, “but you wanted rough sex” it is still her word against his.  And whose word unfortunately holds more power in our society?  Well, let’s be honest, his.

These cases are also further complicated because women who have become victims of rape, especially date or acquaintance rape, often continue to communicate with their perpetrator.  Sometimes women are unsure themselves whether to call it rape, especially if they were attracted to the man.  They feel ashamed and blame themsleves.

The outcome of Jian Ghomeshi’s trial outrages me.  As a society I feel like we have not come very far. We need to continue to work to raise awareness.  So what can we do?

If you have not seen this video comparing consent to tea please watch it.  Again, the humour adds to the power of the message.

Please also read about Rape Trauma Syndrome and self-blame.

As women, we need to be strong and confident.  We need to raise girls who are strong and confident.  We need to raise boys who are respectful and stand up for women also.  We need to stop using or encouraging language that promotes negative attitudes about women.  We need to speak up.  We must not ignore the trolls.  And we must not ignore rape culture.  Also see some useful resources below that I found in my research.

And please share your thoughts.

No! The Rape Documentary

Rape Culture 1975 Documentary

The Unslut project

The Hunting Ground

Wikipedia list of documentaries about violence against women

 

Purposes and Types of Yoga

In my research about different types of yoga I have found five basic purposes for doing yoga.  I have also found over thirty different types of yoga.  Below is a list of the purposes of yoga and the types of yoga I found.  Meditation and Pranayama (breathing exercises) are also important yoga practices.  See also the sites below where I found this information.

Five Reasons for a Regular Yoga Practice: (in no particular order)

1. Stress release, better sleep  (yin, hatha are good for this purpose)

2. Better focus, concentration, energy (meditation and Pranayama are best, see below)

3. Pain Management, healing from an injury – (Iyengar)

4. Fitness, Weight loss – (ashtanga/power)

5. Sprituality, preparation for meditation – (yin, hatha)

Types of Yoga: (in no particular order)

The most popular types of yoga are Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hot Yoga, Yin Yoga and Iyengar.  Over the years yoga has evolved and changed (in some good ways, and some not so good ways).  See my post on Yoga History.  Some of the many other names that have been given to types of yoga are found below, for interest’s sake.

Sattva, ISHTA, Integral, KaliRayTriYoga, Bikram/HotYoga, Hatha, Vinyasa/Power,

Kundalini, Ashtanga, whitelotus, Iyengar, Baptiste, Anusara, Restorative/Yin,

Svaroopa, Jivamukti, Prenatal, Kripalu, Sivananda, Viniyoga, Tantra, Ananda,

Bhakti, Jnana, Laya, Karma, Raja, Mantha, Moksha

For more information on these types of yoga see the websites below.

Some helpful sites about Yoga:

mindbodygreen

Gaiam

matsmatsmats

Health.com

Hellawella

DoYouYoga

Yoga.com

What is your favourite type of yoga and why?

This week’s Yoga Practice: March 19

This week’s Self-Evaluation

This week I was able to fit in three sessions of Yoga with Adriene (Yoga camp, Days 8, 9, 10).  My practice definitely increased my energy, positivity and ability to deal with stress.  I felt calm and relaxed.  Each time, my practice helped my body to loosen up and feel more comfortable.

Please see my post this week on Buying Cruelty-Free, Vegan, Socially Conscious and Environmentally as this relates to a Yoga Lifestyle.

Buying Cruelty-Free, Vegan, Socially Conscious and Environmental

Previously I have posted about the idea of a Yoga Lifestyle as well as my choice to be a Vegetarian as part of my lifestyle.  I would like to share another part of my lifestyle that has come about as a result of being a vegetarian and believing in the Yoga Lifestyle; using cruelty-free, vegan, environmental and socially conscious products as much as possible.

First let me explain what each of these mean.

Cruelty-free –  cosmetic products that do not test on animals; including make-up, lotions, shampoo, conditioners, soaps, cleansers, deodorants, toothpastes, etc.

Vegan – products (as above) that do not use any ingredients that come from animals; such as gelatin or glycerin and also includes leather

Environmental – products that do not harm the environment (the use of or the production/packaging of the product)

Socially conscious – products that are not made in factories that use/support forced or child labour.

I began researching and purchasing products adhering to these principles about five years ago.  I have since learned a great deal and found many companies and products that I love.  It isn’t as difficult as you might think to support these principles.  And I believe that the more we, as consumers, buy according to these principles, the more demand there will be for companies to adhere to these principles.  If we can reduce suffering of any kind, why wouldn’t we?

Unfortunately, I still have some leather furniture in my home, that was purchased before I began buying vegan.  I still own some leather shoes and boots.  I have not gone so far as to get rid of these items.  But I do the best I can with my new purchases.

Also, I have found it difficult to buy clothing that is socially conscious.  There are a few sites online.  And occasionally I will find clothing in a local store that is tagged saying it is made in Canada, or is socially conscious.

Some of the products that I have fallen in love with can be found below.  Some of these can be found at grocery stores or Old Fashioned Foods.  Some can be found at hair salons.  And others have to be ordered over the internet.  Other products can be made at home with basic ingredients from your fridge or pantry.  Generally, if a product is organic, it is usually vegan as well in my experience.  Some of these products are very reasonably priced and others are more expensive.  I believe living this way can be achieved even on a meager budget.  All of these products are beneficial to the skin and overall health, as opposed to toxic, harmful ingredients in other products.

Many of them make products for men, women and children.

Pacifica – cosmetics and cleansers

Neuma – hair products

Desert Essence – hair products, lotions, soaps, toothpastes

Kiss My Face – hair products, lotions, soaps

Gardener’s Dream – face and body wash and lotions

 

These pictures are my own.

I would encourage anyone to try these products and others like them and increase the demand for companies to be more socially conscious, environmental and kind.

You can also look for these symbols when you shop.

Leaping bunny  

Vegan Symbols 

And read more at these sites:

list of vegan beauty products

Another helpful list

I would love to hear from others about your experiences!

Equality and the Internet

This week I am posting about equality in the context of two related topics that were new to me. The first topic is Net Neutrality. I had never heard of Net neutrality so I really needed to get some background. In my post I will explain what it is, why it is important and what some of the experts have to say about it.

The second topic is that of free internet services and the potential for these services to bring knowledge to the disadvantaged and developing countries.

Both of these topics are related to equality among people; people of all races, whether they are wealthy or not, or whether they live in the first or third world.

Photo Source: Glowbugsandglassbulbs

So, what is Net Neutrality? Wikipedia describes it as “the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.”

 

In a speech he gave for the Association of College and Research Libraries in 2015 Lawrence Lessig, a proponent of net neutrality, describes it with an easy to understand analogy (17:58, see below). He compares the internet to an electrical outlet and competing internet providers to appliance companies. So, in a two-tiered system, if you were to buy a Sony appliance it might not get the same power supply as a Panasonic, depending on the contract between the appliance companies and the power company.

So how does net neutrality affect equality?  Lessig says neutrality fosters free speech and leads to further democratic participation. Lessig also states that monopolization of the internet would stifle diversity of independent news sources as well as innovation. Basically, we need the net to stay neutral so all perspectives can be considered on the internet, and so that the wealthy are not at an advantage of getting information that is unavailable to the middle class or those in poverty. It is also important that all innovators, regardless of their social standing, have equal access to learn and to innovate.

Cade Metz’s article Backlash Against Facebook’s Free Internet Service Grows describes Mark Zuckerberg’s effort to bring free internet service to the developing world. Zuckerberg claims that his service Internet.org and his app Free Basics will bring the benefit of internet knowledge to the two thirds of the world who currently do not have it. Zuckerberg claims that this is a humanitarian effort and that his service can co-exist with net neutrality. However, some countries will not partner with Zuckerberg as they believe that Internet.org does violate the principals of net neutrality. Internet.org was made available to some countries in 2015. Similar sites such as Wikipedia Zero and Google Free Zone are also available. I feel I need to learn more about these services before I form an opinion of their value. I would like to believe that they hold amazing potential to spread the knowledge and to empower people in parts of the world currently in need.

I believe that the internet is part of the knowledge economy and that it can be a powerful equalizing force in our world. Now that I have a basic understanding of net neutrality and services such as internet.org, Wikipedia Zero and Google Free Zone, I want to know more. I am intrigued and I see the possibilities. I will continue to read more about this.

I can also see how this relates to education, especially justice education. I teach in a school where the majority of students are from a low socioeconomic background. I can see how net neutrality is important for equality and the future success of my students.

 

What are your thoughts on net neutrality and Internet.org? How can educators work to support net neutrality and equality for all our students?

Week 9 Response: Identity, Reputation and Social Capital

This week in ECI831 we are reading about Identity, Reputation and Social Capital.  Some of the readings posed questions such as are resumes dead, how one can land a dream job by using the web in creative ways and is Facebook only a place where we display our best, fake selves?  While another reading helped us understand how to manage our digital identity in constructive, careful way.

After reading these articles I still had more questions.  There are many Youtube vidoes and online sources to learn from.  One video that I found particularly helpful was Managing Your Digital Identity by Kate Myers Emery of MSU.

Of course, it is important to manage your digital identity and ensure that when a potential employer or anyone at all Googles you, they find positive, informative information about you.  And certainly, we want to do everything we can to ensure that no one can use our identity in any harmful way.  After considering these ideas I decided to look a bit deeper.

I think an even more interesting topic is identity in the larger sense.  Who is it that I want to be?  How do I want people to percieve me?  The answers to this question may be somewhat different when you insert the word online.  However, I believe to a great degree the answers will be the same.  In my online search about identity I found a number of interesting videos on the topic of mashing online identity with “real-world” identity.

In the video below futuristic novelist William Gibson predicts that future generations will make no distinction between online identity and real world identity.

Another interesting (and shorter) video of William Gibson’s ideas can be found below.

Classmate Carla Cooper also referred to transparency.  I agree with Carla that transparency is a key aspect in thinking about who we are in real life and online.  What is really the point in “faking” our identity in any space?  Why not define our “brand”?

As teachers (and parents) we have the ability to affect the thinking of our young people on this topic.  I believe we have a responsibility to have these discussions.  It is important that we talk to them about who they want to be and how they want to be perceived by others.  We can all “design our identity” online and in real life.  In my opinion, this is not a negative.  In fact, you might think of it as one of the important purposes in life.  We are constantly defining and redefining ourselves, trying to figure out “who am I?”.  The reality is that defining our identity now involves the internet as well  as the real world and real people.  The more conscious we are about our identity, the better, I think.

What do you think?  Should we (or to what extent should we) make a distinction between our “real-world” identity and our online identity?