Engaging What You Read

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by PG.NETO

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by PG.NETO


  1. Pick out one of your currently assigned readings.
  2. Perform at least four of the note-taking activities below while/after you read:
  • brief summary
  • key terms/concepts w/definitions and/or descriptions
  • quotes w/discussion
  • questions w/discussion
  • something very new/exciting w/discussion
  • connections to other readings w/discussion
  • connections to examples w/discussion
  • connections to experiences w/discussion
  • connections to course outcomes
  • connections to personal course outcome

3. Share-out: Upload your notes to the comments thread.

One thought on “Engaging What You Read

  1. Luke Stacy


    “The 500-Pound Gorilla” is an essay written by Alfie Kohn that discusses the negative impacts that big businesses have on the United States’ education system. To start, Kohn links the connection between standardized testing and big corporations. In short, Kohn made the point that companies (Mc-Graw Hill in particular) who sell school books, generate standardized tests, and fork out money to research the results of such standardized tests are in business for profit, not the education of children. The author strengthened his argument by offering an example of a high ranking employee of a book company who also served on a school’s curriculum board, an obvious conflict of interest. Kohn also emphasized other ways school children become direct victims of capitalism. Corporations may donate money or win big contracts for their product(s) to be used in schools, but Kohn argues a school setting should not be the target of businesses. For example, Kohn described soda in schools as “liquid candy”, which strengthens his argument that monetary gains of big businesses interrupts the intended purpose of school-to learn. Another thing that Kohn discusses is how the concept of standardized testing essentially prepares students to be a worker, not a critical thinker. Students are being “taught” to get by and not think for themselves. Kohn argues that learning to “get by” isn’t learning. Furthermore, Kohn suggests that big business’ role in education teaches students how to compete. This mindset teaches students not to use each other to learn, but to see each other as enemies or competition, much like businesses see other businesses. Finally Kohn sums up his essay by calling for action. He suggests that big businesses can “mind their own business” by people standing up and voicing their opinions.

    The 500-Pound Gorilla: The 500 pound gorilla in this article is the businesses involvement in education. The article has a huge gorilla in a business suit who is eating a banana that has money signs on it. The gorilla is greedy and hungry for more. More importantly, the gorilla is DANGEROUS. The gorilla cannot lay anywhere it wants because it is big and will have detrimental effects.
    The standardized tests part of this essay really reminds me of my experiences in high school. I remember my teachers preparing us for the Standard of Learning (SOL) tests and they would teach us thing after thing without really going into the details of other topics that may have engaged other students, or myself, in the material more. For example, my teachers would not be able to elaborate on topics as much as the class or he/she wanted to because the staff was on such a strict schedule. It wasn’t really learning because the state wanted us to become “well rounded”, but in all actuality most of the students (including myself) were just learning the material to pass the test. Then once the test was over, our knowledge of the material was erased. I can also relate to the connection that Kohn made about soda in schools. I remember my high school only carried diet pepsi and I remember how much of a distraction it was trying to sneak out of class to be a rebel and get a soda (it wasn’t allowed during class hours).
    “The best reason to give a child a good school … is so that child will have a happy childhood, and not so that it will help IBM in competing with Sony … There is something ethically embarrassing about resting a national agenda on the basis of sheer greed.” -Jonathan Kozol
    This quote basically says it’s ethically wrong to infringe on a child’s childhood because someone is greedy and wants to make money. A kid’s child hood is something that lasts forever and they only get one shot. To take away from something that isn’t yours to take is wrong, especially when there is not a price tag on what you are taking.

    Attachment:  SOE-L2L.docx

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