Macaulay Honors College Seminar 2, IDC 3001H

Category: Week 12

Education and Immigration

On Monday, we discussed Foner’s chapter on education and immigration as well as the NY Times article on the same topic.  This was understandably, a very difficult issue to broach.  There are so many things to consider and so many different viewpoints depending on what one’s role is in the education system.  The first question brought up was how should kids who first arrive to the U.S. speaking no English be taught?  I thought that this seemingly simple question is actually very hard to answer in a way that would benefit everyone.  It seems like in each answer, there’s always someone who will be giving up something or losing out on something.  Personally at first, I thought that it should’ve been that these foreign students should be placed into ESL classes, but still be taught the other subjects in their native language so they don’t fall behind in the curriculum.  This is important because we want these students to graduate on time and get a diploma.  For many immigrants, the main reason why they come to the U.S. is for a better education and job opportunities.  If these students aren’t able to graduate on time with their diplomas, it seems like their efforts in coming to a new country is wasted.  But, as the NY Times article pointed out, is it really better for the students in the long run to be isolated from the actual class just to push them towards graduation?  In reality and from stories that I’ve heard, many foreign students are just put into the regular class with everyone else and through that they’re forced to learn the language.  Even though they fall behind a little bit in the beginning because they don’t know the language, in the long run, it’s better for their English speaking abilities.  It’s similar to the idea when parents throw their children into the water to force them to learn how to swim.  This is a similar concept and these foreign students can only improve from that point onwards.  However, another problem arises.  The parents of the other students in the class might complain that that these immigrant children are pushing the class behind and that the teacher is devoting more time to those students and neglecting the others.  All of these are very plausible reasons and this just shows how there’s no single way of teaching foreign students that would make everyone satisfied.  It’s also important to determine if forcing these immigrant students to get a diploma on time is more beneficial in the long run or throwing them into a class and forcing them to adapt and learn the language in that way would be better for them.  It’s all very subjective and it just proves how difficult it is to agree on single way of implementing a teaching system for immigrant students.

Thoughts on New Yorkers and Real Estate

I’ve generally thought that real estate was a thing that everyone in the world discussed and it was surprising to hear today that outside of New York, nobody really talked about it. Nobody really talked about, for example, property values or had strong opinions about which material was best for building: Brick or shingles (Bricks are obviously the better choice, they’re (1) more aesthetically pleasing and (2) far more durable). To be clear, people outside of New York City probably do talk about their properties but not over Sunday brunch as the way we do here. New Yorkers seem obsessed over their real estate and for good reason.

I think New Yorker’s obsession with real estate comes in part from the meaning that many of the streets seem to impart. To buy a home or more realistically, nowadays, a small apartment in New York is to buy a part of history. Some streets are just dripping with history. I was walking home the other day and I walked down Third ave. At a certain point, Third ave, after Delancy, changes into the Bowery. On either side of the street, I noticed in the windowstills of shops and buildings on the street was posters by the Friends of the Bowery that highlighted the buildings, theatres, homes, which once stood there. I clearly remember that in what was now a group of art galleries on an affluent block, flanked by condominiums and high rises, was a poster talking about the first theatre that showed Vaudeville acts that stood once right on that very ground! Much further down the block, near where the Five Points used to be, once stood another theatre that was designed with beautiful, huge greek columns, and wide balconies, designed to entice wealthy patrons but ironically the theatre was ignored like the plague by the rich who preferred prettier theatres uptown and was rather beloved by the poor immigrant groups that lived nearby, First the theatre, at the corner of Canal and Bowery, was patronized by large crowds of German immigrants, who in turn gave way to Italians, then Jews, then finally closed when the last Chinese finally left the theatre. What stands there now is a Chinese Dim Sum place and an ugly parking garage. The streets of New York are just dripping with historic meaning.

When New Yorkers discuss real estate, they’re discussing the lives, the days, the laughter, the smiles, the tears, the blood of those people that have lived on the same land. New York is a place where so many people have walked, so many people have lived and the history, unlike many other places, is so well-known and so well-loved.


Following Sports is Worthwhile

Today in class we briefly discussed how talking about sports is a way to connect with people that you may not have anything else to do with.  We also discussed how at the same time following sports could be viewed as a waste of time.  I have always been a big sports fan and have heard my friends tell me that I am wasting my time.  Recently I have been trying to find an argument as to why following sports is not a waste of time and I have come up with a few possible explanations that I have tried to explain to my friends that do not follow sports.

For one, I think that sports being a thing that can connect people that don’t have much else to talk about is powerful.  The topic of sports is something that people have strong opinions about and unlike politics, heated debates don’t usually end angrily.  Having knowledge about sports is valuable because it is something that comes up a lot in daily conversation.  Also, to connect sports to our class, following sports is a great way for immigrants to become more acclimated with American society. For example, if an immigrant who followed sports came to the U.S and found American soccer fans it would probably be easy to talk with them even though there may be a slight language barrier.   However, this is not the only reason I think that following sports could be valuable.

My main reason that I think following sports is not a waste of time is way more philosophical.  I believe that in life the most important thing that one can do is achieve their goals.  However, I believe that sometimes it is very hard for one to realize whether or not they have achieved their goals because sometimes people don’t exactly know what their goals are.  In the world of sports, it is very easy to see whether or not a player or team has achieved their goals.  I believe watching and feeling involved in these achievements makes a person realize what life is all about.  Further, I think that the realization of what life is all about makes following sports a worthwhile investment of one’s time.