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 Education and ignorance 
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The scene in The American Dream at Groton in which Jo Vega's art is criticized by a white student was very interesting to me. In the confrontation, the student dismisses Vega's struggles as typical of every teen at Groton and denies that her poor Puerto Rican background makes her personal trials unique. This cavalier attitude made me wonder: are education and ignorance mutually exclusive? Does better education necessarily mean less ignorance? Judging by the white student's opinions, this is definitely not the case.

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Maggie Chambers

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten. ~ B. F. Skinner


Thu Feb 09, 2006 5:01 am
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Yeah, I agree with you Maggie. I think having that much money and priviledge really disconnects people from the mainstream. Most of those kids are living in a microcosm that we can't imagine and as such they can't relate to what goes on in our lives.

Also, not trying to defend the guy, but high school aged boys are not renowned for their sensitivity.

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Thu Feb 09, 2006 7:56 am
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You two are right! That white boy that tore Jo down has no idea what life is like in the real world. All he knows is a life of wealth and privlege. You can tell that he thinks he is better than Jo jst by hearing him speak to her. He shot her art work down just because he felt like he could, because he was the upper class white male in the situation. I saw the look on Jo's face. What could she say? No matter what reaction she had, that boy knew that he had the upper hand in the situation. The wealthy often seem to raise their children to have attitudes like this boy had. I am not saying that all wealthy people act ignorant and overly confident, but many do. They feel like their money gives them more power over lower class induividuals. On the other hand, this boy was probably born with a silver spoon in his mouth and has never know how to act any differently than he does. If he was born growing up in an environment that looked down upon people with lower incomes and different backgrounds, can you really blame the boy for acting the way he did? I mean, look at where he attended school. That is probably one of the most snobbiest and rich schools in our nation. I am sure there were some students that were even more rude than he was. I am not trying to defend the boy for his words to Jo, however, I was just wondering if it was really his fault the way he acted towards her if that is all he has ever known?

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Jordan Will


Thu Feb 09, 2006 12:24 pm
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ImageImage

Quote:
In one of the best scenes ever in documentary filmmaking, Vega presented her high school art class with examples of her personal sculptures:

If you look back here, there’s a dagger and that dagger is supposed to show what kind of defense mechanism a Puerto Rican woman has to have when her husband cannot find a job and he is frustrated and resorts to drinking and eventually madness.


An aggressive wasp proceeds to berate an emotional Vega in front of the art class:

In America we always talk about it being a melting pot… Everyone comes from someplace else. Everyone has trouble finding a job. Everyone has to defend themselves against madness and alcoholism. I don’t really know what people really think about all this, but most people go about expressing their resentments at Groton over the lunch table and not let it build up to a level where in a sense they explode in a demonstration of art that makes a lot of people uncomfortable.


http://www.groton.org/home/home.asp

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"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you" - Nietzsche


Thu Feb 09, 2006 2:40 pm
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It was very disrespectful and rude for that guy to react to Jo and her artwork the way he did. But, we (meaning our class room attendants) were HOPEFULLY raised to know that and to behave differently. But, if we are to assume that this kid (the guy that is) was raised by uppty, rude parents are we to expect him to act otherwise? Most of my beliefs and points of view are generalized by how my parents brought me up and what they taught me. I'm sure the root of how a child thinks or behaves can be followed back to their parents or guardians.

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Anna Kate Shook
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Tue Feb 14, 2006 10:38 am
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I really felt like the boy was being rude and not even trying to understand Jo's point of view. He has no idea what it's like to grew up in a poor Puerto Rican community. Like Jordan said, all that guy knew was wealth and a life of ease. Instead of really listening to what Jo was saying, he was just telling her how wrong she was and that very disrespectful.

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Luci Osborne


Tue Feb 14, 2006 11:23 am
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I don't agree with what the boy said to Jo, but is it possible that he really wasn't meaning to be a jerk? He had obviously always grown up with a wealthy lifestyle and is probably ignorant to what the outside world is truly like. I think he could have gone about his comment in another way. Is ignorance really bliss?

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Lauren Shook


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Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:31 pm
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He reminded me of that WASP guy from the video we watched the second week of class about the differences in class. Quite ignorant of the views of the rest of society. For him, her struggles seem to be the same struggles as his own, he's never had to face those problems, or be forced to listen to someone who has had them. In his eyes, you can be as good as you want because he has always been given what he wants. All speculation. I don't want to make excuses for the rascist, hateful things he said, but in his eyes her struggles are meaningless. This is exactly what we need to change in society.

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Tue Feb 14, 2006 9:50 pm
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I agree with Lauren. I don't think the boy really meant to offend Jo or thought he was doing so at all, even though that doesn't excuse him. It's sad how uncultured some of the most educated people in America are. I think that part of receiving a good education should be learning about and interacting with those who are different than us.

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Nicole Stack

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Wed Feb 15, 2006 11:00 am
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What kind of art does he want to see, pretty landscapes and picturesque still-lifes? Art IS expression, and should cause others to think. Perhaps he was uncomfortable because he doesn't understand her at all. He has never experienced the situations she's illustrating, and his lack of knowledge makes him want to dismiss her artwork completely. Also, obviously she had no one to connect with at the lunch table, so she was communicating through her work. I hope the students in my art classes are brave enough to produce work like Jo's that has a personal significance to them, rather than just producing work that everyone is 'comfortable' with.


Thu Feb 23, 2006 2:30 am
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I really agree with Amy. I think that he was mostly uncomfortable because she was different than him. In my opinion, people seem to criticize other people when they are differnet from themselves. I wish that everyone would embrace each others differences. Thats definately the attitude im going to have in my classroom. Diversity is beautiful. If he would have opened his eyes, he could have learned a lot from Jo.

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Samantha McCrary


Fri Feb 24, 2006 2:05 pm
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