Dec 09 2010

Notes Dec. 7, 2010

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Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, Family Life

Natural Growth: My Working Class Upbringing

Working from general to specific: in general class in America, and specifically how class affected the ways you were raised.


Me, Myself, and I: My Natural Growth


Theory section:
NATURAL GROWTH: THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES: this section defines the terms she will be using for the essay: natural growth and concerted cultivation

MY PARENTS’ UPBRINGINGS—covers how her parents were raised in Dominican Republic




AUDIENCE: authority, she, 40s, bunch of old people in their 50s, grumpy, professors, have lots of education:
Tactic: Move to their childhoods and aspirations
Tactic: education as a chance at a good life
Tactic: “I’m the first person in my family to go to college”*
Tactic: immigrant family story
Tactic: working a lot of hours and having a hard time at school
Tactic: narrating obstacles you have overcome

Emphasize your performance in classes: GPA, faculty feedback, participation, working hard on an assignment—learning something
IF you don’t have good grades, then emphasize something else: volunteer work or activities; work experience

IF you don’t have volunteer experience: be creative: can’t volunteer because I work;

Career goal: what if I don’t have a plan just yet?
Which majors interest you and why: be specific
Mention classes that interest you AND if possible, instructors who teach them

Things learned:

QC +
Good snacks
Nice campus: big, not vertical, big lawn: open, lots of space
Clean bathrooms
The dugout: if you know about it
Variety of classes
Diversity of students and culture
Many places students can go and ask for help: the welcome center for example

QC –
Food is too expensive
Expensive textbooks
the commute

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Dec 02 2010

Intro and Conclusion

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Q. Why does social class matter? General

A. because people care about what other people think about them: status matters in people’s eyes; it varies in different cultures and different counties, matters more in some countries than in others, especially in Capitalist countries; it provides people with opportunities to be better than everyone else, it establishes dominant and subjected classes; it decides the chances and resources individuals have in life; it’s a projectile in terms of how far we are allowed to go in life

Q. How does social class affect the ways Americans raise their children? General

A. it determines the experiences of natural growth and concerted cultivation; the more money, the more opportunities for children, and with more opportunities, they are more open to what society has to offer; in most parents cases raise their kids by the standards of competition established by other parents; parental involvement varies by class, parents with more money can spend more time with their kids; time and money invested in children varies with social class; people in higher classes put their kids in more activities so that they will seem more well-rounded, and maybe reap institutional advantages; middle-class parents have more money, so they can provide more opportunities; different classes have different perspectives on how to raise children correctly; class affects living conditions, which affects how families raise their kids; social class determines ways that we perceive happy childhoods, or happy family lives; it affects where and when parents send their children to school . . .

Q. What does Unequal Childhoods claim about social class in America? More specific

A. Lareau’s Unequal Childhoods teaches us that children in higher social classes have more social advantages because of the opportunities they are given; lower social classes children have less opportunities because of economic hardships; social class can be a defining factor in child rearing; if natural growth, there are less opportunities because of lack of money; concerted cultivation offers more opportunities for children; that it determines one’s success and it is evident that middle class kids are provided with better education and opportunities to get ahead, and they learn important values with people who have status in society; there’s a distinct difference in the economics and cultural values each of the classes hold: natural growth stresses family more than concerted cultivation; money is a resources that’s more available to children raised via concerted cultivation; “common economic position in society is closely tied in the cultural logic of child rearing” (31).

Q. What ideas from Unequal Childhoods did you find insightful or correct? Or: what are the things you agree with?
More specific
A. Working class kids develop strong kinship ties; there are social classes that associated with specific child rearing methods; for concerted cultivation using reasoned requests and dialogues shapes language use later;

Q. What ideas from Unequal Childhoods did you disagree with or find incorrect? Or: what are the things you think are wrong? What are the book’s shortcomings?
More specific
A. She goes to extremes with social classes: “no middle man”, or people who earn average salaries; she shares only the social extremes of class; she only stuck to two races, but she claims to speak for American families; there’s not just concerted cultivation or natural growth, there could be combinations; concerted cultivation kids may not have better opportunities; she makes assumptions that can’t really be proved; she claims the lines between classes can’t be crossed; the sample is small to speak for all of America; she didn’t explore immigrant family experience; she should follow up

Q. Overall, what are the main things I’ve learned from doing this research? (reading the book and conducting interview) BE SPECIFIC


Q. Specifically, how has social class affected my family life? How has social class affected the way I was brought up?

Q. In general, what are some of the parenting practices you will use when you raise your children? General

One response so far

Nov 30 2010

Robert Alvarez: A Life

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They hurt you at home and they hit you at school.  They hate you if you’re clever, and they despise a fool.  Till you’re so fucking crazy, you can’t follow their rules.

A working class hero is something to be.

–John Lennon, Working Class Hero

Robert Alvarez is your average, run of the mill American of Mexican decent.  He was born in a small, working class mining town.  His father was a blue-collar man, as were his grandfathers.  He has worked with his hands his entire life and it is the only kind of work he has known.  He knows what it is like to work hard for poor wages, struggle financially, and to surrender himself for the good of his family.  And it is because of all this that he is the perfect specimen of a blue-collar worker who deserves to have his story known to a world that has shunned him and his like in the past.

*                      *                      *

I met with Alvarez at his home in the rural farming town of Safford.  Outside the small house are five cars.  Only two actually run.  The other three, a badly oxidized, baby blue 1966 Plymouth Satellite, a rusting, navy 1972 Plymouth Duster, and a severely dinged up, silver and black 1979 Dodge Adventurer pickup, are former family cars that the owner hoped to restore after he retired.  Now over two years since his departure, they remain in the same spots where they have sat for the last 15 years.

Upon entering the house of the retired miner, one is taken aback by the heap of landscaping tools lying on his front porch.  After 36 years working as a copper miner at Phelps Dodge and serving as his family’s primary source of income, the aging man now works as a gardener and takes the back seat as the money earner to his wife, Anna.  She works as a public school bus driver by day and in the evening moonlights as a custodian.  For Anna, an 11-hour workday is not uncommon.  Since Robert’s retirement, however, she no longer has to work alone cleaning the Medical Center of Eastern Arizona, the Arizona State Savings & Credit Union, and the Graham County Chamber of Commerce.  He willingly lends her a hand.  “It gives us a chance to spend some time together,” she says.

He greets me as I enter and we adjourn to the dining room table.  He offers me a chair next to his.  I gladly accept.  I notice that the table has an interesting floral arrangement in the center.  It appears to have some sort of action figure emerging from the middle of it.  I take a closer look and realize that it is the black Power Ranger.  Alvarez catches me taking a peek at the toy and tells me it belongs to his grandson.  “He pretty much runs the place,” he tells me as I crack a smile.  I later learn that he was unable to be at the birth of his grandson–his first grandson.  He was gone on a two-week detail for the National Guard.

As I search my book bag for my tape recorder, Alvarez gets up.  “Would you like something to drink?  Soda, orange juice, beer?” he asks.

“No thanks,” I tell him.  I chuckle at the offer of beer.  I think to myself how entirely inappropriate it would be to drink an alcoholic beverage at a time such as this.

He returns to the table with what appears to be a 40-ounce bottle of beer.  I’m not able to distinguish what variety of beer it is; it’s still covered with the brown paper bag from the liquor store.  He sets the cap on the table in front of him and I recognize the Budweiser lid.  Indeed, a truly American beer.  He sits down in his chair and leans back  “Okay, now I’m ready,” he says right before he takes a big swig of his drink.

Alvarez is not like the average retired copper miner, if one can argue such a thing exists.  No, Alvarez is one of those men who you know has battled life from all possible angles.  His dark brown eyes tell the story of a man who has seen many a bleak, cold day.  His white hair is an indication of his age and acquired wisdom.  His dark, weather-beaten skin exemplifies the many hours he has spent working in the sun and the laborious work he has subjected his body to for the majority of his life.  He lifts up a cigarette and presses it between his lips.  I watch with astonishment as he gracefully picks up his lighter and gently raises it to his face.  His big, bulky fingers move with the greatest of ease.  They look strong, stronger than, I think to myself, any one of my arms.  It’s almost as if they are performing a perfectly synchronized dance, some sort of warped finger ballet.  With his right dancers he grips the red lighter loosely but still firm.  His thumb works as the resistance on the wheel of the lighter and with one stroke, a perfect quarter-inch flame is born.  With the cast of his left hand he creates a symmetrical half-dome shield to block any wind from extinguishing the flame.  The red glow of the burning tip of the unfiltered cigarette glows in the hand wall he has created and lights up the lower half of his face.  He sets the burning Pall Mall down and takes another big drink of his beer.  It doesn’t phase him a bit.  He looks at me, “Let’s get this started.”


Alvarez was born in Bisbee, Arizona.  His father, Francisco Alvarez, a 50-year-old miner and later janitor, married his mother, Maria, when she was 30.  Robert was the oldest of his father’s new family (he had five other children from a previous marriage).  His two brothers, Jim and Ronald, were nothing like their elder sibling.  Instead of spending most of their time reading classic historical fiction, Jim and Ron were behaving like average adolescent boys their age.  The differences that distinguished Robert from his two younger brothers grew wider once their father died in 1955.  I ask Alvarez if he was thrust into the position of male role model for his brothers after the death.  “Definitely not,” he tells me.  He fails to elaborate any more on the subject, and I, instinctively, decide not to follow up on it.  Something tells me not to press too deep into the subject.  It appears he is not comfortable speaking of it.  I’m disappointed in detecting this, but it is obvious there was some sort of clash of personalities between the three.  To this day, the brothers seldom speak to each other.

Little Robert Carlos Alvarez was born on March 14th, 1943.  From an early age, he was recognizably intelligent.  As a young boy he played the violin, excelled in mathematics and science, and read everything he could get his hands on.  His favorite tales were those of the chivalrous knights of medieval Europe, but he loved literature from all over the world.  The book case near the entrance of his house is filled with a diverse collection ranging from Dostoyevsky to Dante to the Bhagavad-Gita.  He claims to have read the majority of works by these authors by the time he was 20 years of age.  These authors gave him a view of a world that was much bigger than Bisbee.  And because of this, they were his passports to the rest of humanity.

At the age of 17, Alvarez enlisted in the Army.  His mother urged him not to leave, but he insisted.  He needed to see the world, he told her.  All the books he read as a youngster stirred his imagination.  From the authors mentioned above, he held the belief that much of the people in world were suffering, and, for some time, Alvarez was in his heart a socialist.

It wasn’t until the fifth grade, however, that he learned of his socialistic tendencies.  “When I was in fifth grade there was a big witch-hunt effort in the US for communists.  They were looking under every rock for them.  Well, one day in class, I asked the teacher why some people had to be poor and others did not.  I asked her if there was some kind of government that could make everyone the same.  She told me there was and it was called communism.  I almost shit!  I thought communism was something bad.  It really wasn’t bad.  People just didn’t understand it.  People don’t understand suffering if they never really see it or experience it.”

Once in the military, Alvarez’s idea of suffering changed.  “It was like the writers wrote but worse, way worse.  The worst thing was the hunger.  Starvation is a long, horrible process.  I saw people dying in front of me.  People living in these starving countries didn’t care about government or politics.  They just wanted to survive.  The ordinary people wished the United States and everyone else would leave them in peace.  They didn’t want to be bothered by political things.  They were more concerned about eating and staying alive.”

Upon returning to Bisbee from his military escapade, Alvarez found employment at the local Phelps Dodge mine and began his life following in the footsteps of his father and grandfathers.  He applied for a position on a whim.  “Well, I really don’t know why [I applied].  I just did.”  For Alvarez the prospects of becoming a laborer for the mine increased when he learned that the man in charge of employment knew his father.  “He said ‘I’ll take your application and give you a call.  Don’t even bother coming down.’  A couple of days later he called me at home.  ‘Come on down here and we’ll get the paperwork’.  Easy as that.”

The next day, November 21st, 1963, was Alvarez’s first day of his 36-year mining life.  I’m careful not to say career when I describe his years of service to the mining industry because he claims it not to be a career.  “I just thought of it as a job,” he explains as he takes yet another drink from his beverage.  “All my life I never worked at a place where I thought of it as a career.  I just worked and made the best of it.  A job’s a job.  As long as they keep paying me, I don’t give a care.”  And Phelps Dodge did continue to pay him.  At 20, he was earning close to $500 a month.  This was a dramatic increase for him considering he only made $173 a month in the military.  The increase in money prevented Alvarez from re-enlisting in the army and it kept him for the time being in Bisbee.

The $500 a month wages he received, however, came at a price.  Alvarez worked underground for ten years in Bisbee.  “It’s the dirtiest work you ever seen,” he tells me.  “There’s mud, heat, water.  It’s hot.”  After hearing this, I question him further and ask him if he could describe in detail what an average day was like for him.  He answers me, “a day in Hell.”  I think he’s joking and I giggle.  Alvarez’s face is void of emotion.  He takes another drink from his beer.

His time as an underground miner has paid its toll on his health.  Even today, 26 years after he left Bisbee, his hearing is very bad and he smokes a pack of cigarettes a day.  Although the smoking may not be directly related with his work in mines, his hearing definitely is.  Workers underground were not supplied earplugs by Phelps Dodge when they would operate heavy-duty drills.  Not that the earplugs would have made much difference.  He refuses to wear a hearing aid.  He prefers that people speak up to him instead.  Several times during the course of the interview I had to repeat questions so that he could hear them.  Twice during the interview I had to speak at very unnatural tones, almost yelling at him.  It seemed like my uncomfortableness in doing this humored him.

Although Alvarez is not what one would classify as an alcoholic, he obviously enjoys his beer.  Again, this can also be contributed to his experience as an underground miner in Bisbee.  Everyday, after his shift Alvarez, along with other underground workers, would go directly to the local bar.

“The bars would have what they called an after-shift drink, free.  You’d go in, and as soon as you got in, they gave you a shot of whiskey . . . Of course, they gave it to you so you would start drinking more.  You’d stay in there with the old timers.  A lot of us got there at about 3:30.  We’d stay there till about 5-6:00.  Except for the die-hard ones, they’d stay there half the night.

“The miner’s drink was called a boilermaker.  It was a shot of whiskey and a beer.  We’d have quite a few of those.  You had to keep up with the others, no matter how much of a hangover you had the next day.  You had to drink like Hell.  The next day at work you’d damn near die sometimes.  But, if you could keep up with them, you were one of them.  You were a part of them.”  Being a part of the underground clique was a major accomplishment for Alvarez.  The pride is evident in his disposition when he speaks of these miners.  His eyes light, and his voice picks up.  He produces a smile.  He even sets his beer down.  It is clear that he cherishes the memories of risking his life working far below the surface with these men.  “They were a different breed.  They were like the infantry in the Army.  The infantry was supposed to be the tough ones who could take anything.  That’s what the underground miners were.  They could take anything.”  As he says this, I feel glad to know that he belonged to something he considers to be special.  Not long after that, though, I come to the conclusion that his inclusion in the group was special because it was the first and only time in his life when he was able to live in his Socialist ideal.  All the men were equal.  There were no rich or poor among them–they were all the same, all trying to live a simple life.  Each person took care of themselves and everyone else.  Why it came to be this way, I do not know.  Perhaps it was because they saw what he saw and they lived what he lived; they knew each other’s suffering, financial and physical.  Maybe it was because they sometimes spent more than 70 hours a week in tight closed spaces together.  Who’s to say, but one thing is for sure: They were blue-collar men destroying their bodies for a company that could care less about them as individuals and more as a commodity.  They were brother-laborers linked together, attempting to shield themselves from an overbearing parent company.  When I think of it like this, Alvarez’s drinking, smoking, and hearing don’t seem like problems to me.  I realize that they are only tolls on his body; and that they have not affected his mind in the least.  They may eventually cost him part of his life, but the life he has lived has brought the kind of wisdom most of us can only dream of ever gaining.  He knows life and he knows how the world does and should work.  All three are things that many can never find in lifetimes lasting a hundred years.

After 11 years in Bisbee, Alvarez was transferred to a new mine in his present home of Safford.  As for the reason for the move, he says, “I got chosen to come over here.  The big producers got chosen, the ones who put out the most tonnage.”  Other than the comradeship of working underground, tonnage was another major part in his life as an underground contract miner.  Tonnage is a slang term describing the amount of copper a miner digs out.  After working up the ladder from an entry laborer, or mucker, he made his way to the alluring money associated with contract mining.  Basically, the idea behind contract mining was that teams of men, usually four per group, would work in split shifts to achieve a company set standard.  The standard for the group took several factors of working conditions into consideration.  Things like underground temperature, how far ore needed to be moved, how many times ore needed to be moved, how far underground the mining was being done, and if there was the possibility of the shaft caving in were all accounted for by the company in its decision of a standard.

For Alvarez, a common standard set for his crews was 80 tons per day.  Each man was responsible for 20 tons each.  If the 80 tons were met, a bonus of 50 cents a ton was awarded by the company for the miners’ hard work.  The system seemed reasonable enough for those motivated to work hard and willing to be part of a team.  However, problems often did arise in the arrangement.  “Sometimes you got teamed up with some other crew that didn’t want to work.”  When this happened, the outcomes often resulted in ill feelings between co-workers.  “It used to get bad to where the day shift guys would go into the bar and start drinking and at eleven o’clock they’d be waiting outside for the other guys to get out.  They’d start fighting.”

The selection of Alvarez for the Safford mine was a wise one.  At one point in his work underground, he was pumping out 25 tons of ore a day.  This is when he says he was making the best money of his young life.  “I was making really good money.  That in itself was motivating me to work harder,” he says.

The money wasn’t everything, however.  During this time, he met his first wife, Alice.  He was 24 and ready to settle down.  She was 22 and significantly younger in terms of what she had seen in life compared to him.  The two were married March 21st of 1967.  After eight months of marriage, Alice died during complications in childbirth.  Alvarez, destroyed and distraught, was also out of work.  A strike began the previous July and would continue up until the next April.  He remained out of work until then.  “It was a bad time in my life,” he says as he takes another drink from his beer.

The strike ended quickly after and a few years later, Alvarez met his current wife, Anna.  The two instantly fell in love.  Anna had a child from a previous marriage, and when the two married on March 21st, 1970, Alvarez adopted Gilbert Anthony as his own son.  “I always thought of him as my boy. He was born the same day my wife died.”  Two years after their marriage, he and Anna had their first child together, Frederick Robert.  Ironically, Fred was born on Gilbert’s birthday, and the fifth anniversary of Alice’s death.  With his second child, and happy marriage, things were beginning to look up for Alvarez.  Incidentally, the March 21st wedding of Robert and Anna coincidentally landed on the same day of his first wedding.  Both weddings fell on a Saturday, Alvarez’s day off from work.

*          *          *

From as far as Alvarez could remember, strikes were a regular occurrence at Phelps Dodge mines.  “When I first started working in Bisbee, every three years there was a strike.  Every three years, never failed.”  He pauses to take a drink of his beer.  “Every three years the union would call a strike to negotiate contracts.”  The union was something Alvarez never cared much for.  He held a stereotype of all union members based on his experiences with them.  Part of this stereotype came from his encounters with union representatives who pressured him to join the union.  “The union guy would come over there and try to sign you up.  When you signed up, they finally would leave you alone.  As long as you sign, they can take that money out of your paycheck.  They used to take about $10 out.  After that, they don’t bother you and you don’t bother them.  I never made a union meeting in my life.”

Other than the greed Alvarez saw in unions, the other part of the stereotype he held involved their indolence.  “A lot of the union members were the lazy guys,” he says.  He claims the union also prevented him from outputting tonnage by the number of rules and regulations it set up.  “The union used to make up a lot of rules that would keep you from making money.”  I ask for an example.  “Like at lunchtime.  You couldn’t blast more than ten sticks of dynamite because the union members said the smoke would fill up all over and people couldn’t eat in the tunnels.  It would be too much smoke for them.  For a lot of the real workers, the smoke would not bother them.  Lunch was to eat not enjoy.”

Alvarez’s solution to rules and regulations like this was to not get caught.  “At lunchtime I would use 50 sticks of dynamite but only say I used 10.  I wasn’t going to get less tonnage and lose my money for them.”  Alvarez was turned in a number of times by the union and was dealt with by PD.  “They just told me to stop,” he says.  He didn’t stop, however.  “I’d just cool it down for a while.  Then, the next chance I got, I would do it again.”

Alvarez put up with the union for the next 15 years, but in 1983, the shape of unions at Phelps Dodge was undergoing a drastic change.  More specifically, the company was in the process of eliminating them.  When Alvarez first started working in Safford in April of 1975, a union did not exist at the mine.  “They didn’t have a union in Safford.  PD didn’t want a union, so there wasn’t one.  The union was still around and real strong in Morenci, though.”  Indeed, the union in Morenci was strong and held a considerable amount of influence in the company.

Morenci is a 45-minute drive east of Safford.  The town was, and still is, completely controlled by Phelps Dodge.  The overwhelming majority of people who live there work for the mine.  The union had to be strong in such circumstances.  Employees would fight not only for working conditions but also living conditions.  Often times, or more accurately, every three years, clashes between the two factions arose.  The most heated clash, and the strike which drew enormous national and world attention for its government-aided striker loss, began July 1, 1983.  It eventually ended led to the fall of the union in Morenci.

At the time of the strike, Alvarez had moved from the Safford mine, which had been closed in 1982, to a division of small mines being prospected by PD.  However, for the two weeks preceding the strike up to the first day of the strike, he was working in Morenci as a loan from small mines.  “I was loaned by small mines to Morenci to clean copper out of a furnace.  There were a few of us.  We had to drill and blast it out.  The first day of the strike was the last day I worked in Morenci.  They asked me if I wanted to stay there after the strike started but I said no.  I left the mine, and outside thousands of people were lined up.  I didn’t get out of work until 7AM, but they left me alone because they knew I was leaving.  If they thought I was a scab, they probably would have killed me.  I didn’t want to be a scab.  I just wanted to go back to small mines.”

Alvarez did go back to small mines, but did not stay there long.  “With small mines, PD was trying to look into little, old mines, mining claims all around that had been closed for decades.  They were leasing them looking for ore.  The first place I went was Gallup, New Mexico.  We went around looking in the hills looking for ore.  PD thought that the old time prospectors had missed a lot of ore.”  PD was wrong.  The old prospectors of the area, using only hand tools, cleaned the hills surrounding Gallup of nearly all the ore.  “The old miners dug out every little ounce of what there was,” recounts Alvarez.

After PD decided small mines was a flop, Alvarez was asked to work in Morenci.  By this time, the strike was over a year old.  He started in August of 1984.  “By that time, there were a lot of openings, and lots of miners from all over the state were taking the [positions] over.”  Demonstrators still lined the gates of the mine, and they continued to yell and spit at scabs entering the compound, but Alvarez paid no attention to them.  Initially, Alvarez felt compassion for the strikers.  “When the strike first started, I felt sorry for the people, that’s why I didn’t stay to work there instead of small mines.  I didn’t want to take their job away.  They were just ordinary workers fighting for their cause.”  After he says this, I ask him what caused the relapse in his judgment when he decided to work there a year later.  To this he replies, “the people changed.  I didn’t feel sorry for them anymore.  A lot of the pushy, union strikers ended up going back to work a year later.  The one’s who made the most noise were some of the first ones to come back.  The strikers were outnumbered.  Most of them went back to work, and they weren’t as solid.  They got hungry.”  He takes another drink of his beer.

Alvarez was called a scab but it did not disturb him a bit.  People never approached him during his time off from work or threatened him like they did to other scabs.  “I don’t give a damn about people or what they think of me.  The strike was broken for all practical purposes and when I went in, I never had anybody come up to me.”  Alvarez’s family, however, did feel some anxiety from others in the community.  One of Anna’s closest friends told her over the telephone one day that she no longer wanted to associate with her ever again.  Debbie, Alvarez’s next child after Frederick, claimed to be threatened on the playground many a time at school by children of strikers.  Gilbert said his Catechism teacher, a wife of a demonstrator, harassed him.  All this did die, however, as the strike came to an end and his life amid the strike that was famous for failing went back to normal.

Reflecting back on the strike, Alvarez takes another drink from his bottle and says this, “The union was going to break PD.  It was too strong.  No one was able to work because there were so many rules and regulations.  That’s why they got rid of it, and they went into a lot of debt to get rid of it.  Looking back on it, though, I think PD had it all planned out for years.  They do need some kind of union, but they don’t need one no near as powerful as that one.  Under the new PD, it’s to the point to where they can’t form a union.  The still need someone to stick up for the ordinary worker.  It was just too powerful at that time.

“PD more or less dictates everything now for the worker.  But, I think this was planned a long time ago.  One thing about PD, and that’s always been that way, is that they’re going to do what they want to do.  It’s take it or leave it.  You don’t like it, tough.  You either keep working and not like it or you find another job.”

Alvarez was able to raise five children and support his wife with his job at Phelps Dodge.  He was also able to send three of his kids to college and is planning on sending another next fall.  He bought a house, 14 cars, and never missed a payment.  He built a life with the money he earned at Phelps Dodge.  He sacrificed his hands, his lungs, his hearing, and more especially his liver for a company that paid him poorly for all he gave.  Alvarez never complained about his job and still doesn’t.  “I made a living off of it.  If they go broke tomorrow, I don’t care.  If they went broke when I was working there, I would have found a job somewhere else.  I never thought of it as a career.  I’m not the type of person who is ambitious.  I’m not trying to come out ahead.  I’m just trying to make a life, that’s it.”

After Alvarez tells me this, he takes another drink of his beer.  As I watch him, I’m left breathless.  I think to myself that the man sitting across from me is the living quintessence of what the beaten up workingman is.  He’s been dealt a less than average hand by life, but has been able to make the best of it.  He’s a fighter who refuses to give up.  He’s independent and never depended on a union or anyone else to stick up for him.  He’s a family man who sacrificed himself to provide.  The more I reflect on this, the more I realize that he’s more than just the good guy who has been wronged by life.  He’s a hero.  But he’s a hero for more than just the workingman.  He’s a hero for anyone who knows what it is like to work hard and get paid softly.  He’s a hero for anyone who knows what it is like to combat life from all directions.  He’s a hero for all those who can relate to the education life gives.  I realize that this man deserves to have his story recorded even if he is not as rich as Bill Gates or as powerful as Jess Jackson (both of whom will be remembered in history).  His story needs to be shared, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my father.  He’s my hero too.

7 responses so far

Nov 24 2010

11/23: Rhetoric . . . Continued

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Should professors consider student absences when determining grades?

Is the classroom a learning environment? Or does coming to class help you learn?

What are benefits/non-benefits of going to class?


–It’s rude not to come to class: professors are here, so you should do the same: if less and less people show up . . . it’s polite

–Showing up means that they are trying to learn: showing up and being productive

–Some people aren’t good on tests: if I participate it will help, esp. the “benefit of the doubt”;

–Professors should care about their students: we pay for instructors who should care for us; we expect them to teach us and to work as much as us . . .   

–It’s in your best interest to come to class to get a good grade: you can’t complain if you don’t go to class

–In class you learn things from your peers;

–Teachers can cover stuff that happens outside of the textbook

–If you don’t come to class, you might as well as take online courses

–It’s not fair for students who come to class to get penalized; so learning is social and not solitary

–If you don’t come to class, you don’t get other students’ perspectives

–If you don’t want to come, why not let someone who does want to come, come.

–It’s important to build a “relationship” with your instructors

–An education is learning; learning can happen alone or with a group, but with learning in a group there’s more thinking, more opinions, with more people more resources

–Builds discipline that you will need in the workforce . . .


–If you can study on your own, you might be better off

–Students who can’t come to class for medical reasons shouldn’t be penalized

–We pay money, so it should be our decision to come or not: professors still get paid whether we come or not

–Only reason to come to class is to get a good grade, so if you get a good grade on the test, why come to class? If you pass the test, then that shows you know your stuff, so you don’t need to come to class.

–Considering absences rules out students who work

–What about “unconventional” students? Students with families or “adult” obligations.

–“They” should grade you on what you learn; instead they grade on things like attendance and participation.

–Teachers teach out of textbooks anyway, so you can teach yourself reading the textbook

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Nov 19 2010

Class Notes 18 Nov 2010 “Rhetoric”

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From Oxford English Dictionary

Ethos: ethics: your voice, or your “trueness”; face of sincerity

[mod.L., a. Gr. character, a person’s nature or disposition. Used by Eng. writers in certain particular applications.]      1. [After Arist. Rhet. II. xii-xiv.] The characteristic spirit, prevalent tone of sentiment, of a people or community; the ‘genius’ of an institution or system.

Pathos: emotion: touching audiences’ emotions

ancient Greek suffering, feeling, emotion, passion, emotional style or treatment < -, stem of to suffer, of unknown origin. Compare post-classical Latin pathos (4th cent. in rhetoric; in classical Latin authors as a Greek word in rhetorical and philosophical context).]   1. An expression or utterance that evokes sadness or sympathy

Logos: knowledge, logic, statistics: information or outside sources

[Gr. word, speech, discourse, reason, f. -, ablaut-variant of – in – to say.]  1. A term used by Greek (esp. Hellenistic and Neo-Platonist) philosophers in certain metaphysical and theological applications developed from one or both of its ordinary senses ‘reason’ and ‘word’

Q. Is it a good idea for colleges to have their own bar on campus for underage students?

Yes: why (based on self-control)

  1. Administrators won’t have to punish students breaking the underage rule: reduces the level of illegal activity: reducing underage consumption
  2. Students will learn a lesson: that they can’t control themselves, so because they can drink, they won’t want to drink: to learn to drink responsibly
  3. Students are adults, so they have the choice to drink or not. They can already get tattoos, they can vote, buy cigarettes, go to war, get married, pay taxes, lottery tickets, and serve alcohol
  4. Would keep students on campus: students won’t be driving drunk: social opportunity, hanging out at school after class; will help anti-social people become social, makes people funny.
  5. College controls what gets sold: the school makes profit, lots of money
  6. Good for school publicity, more liberal, pose toward the “liberalist” liberal arts school
  7. Most colleges already have that setting: already happening at neighboring schools


No: why (doubt on self-control)

 1. Drinking alcohol makes people violent, and lose self-control, so it would make school like a bar.

 2. Going to give the school a negative image; if students die, QC will look bad

 3. school is liable if anything  bad happens: if students die, QC will get sued (QC will die too)

 4. it affects the decisions of students, students might drop out or get bad grades; students should focus on studies and not getting wasted. Easy access is a problem

 5. Students could die: drink too much: alcohol is “a slow poison”; it will corrupt students: it will turn them into party animals

 6. it increases illegal activity: more kids would buy alcohol for minors, the underage consumption level drops but remains in play

  1. Culturally we’re not responsible enough to handle our booze


  1. it will interfere with student performance, academically and physically


10.  violation of federal law: other laws on the national level would have to change; this change could hurt our social values or political organization

11.  bad parents would enroll their kids at “that school”; so student enrollment would decrease,  

 12. a waste of students’ money

Yes: why (based on self-control)

  1. Administrators won’t have to punish students breaking the underage rule: reduces the level of illegal activity: reducing underage consumption;

Students won’t be drinking any less anyway; reduces the school’s responsibility


2.    Students are adults, so they have the choice to drink or not. They can already get

tattoos, they can vote, buy cigarettes, go to war, get married, pay taxes, lottery

tickets, and serve alcohol


  1. College controls what gets sold: the school makes profit, lots of money

College spends too much on security, kids are already doing it, so why not capitalize? Expand the university, new buildings, more students come to campus, better classes, more technology,

Parents’ attitudes toward school

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Nov 16 2010

Class Notes 16 Nov. 2010

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Disagreements with Lareau:

No immigrant families: all either white or black—immigrant family would be different, because being involved in school more than organized activities would be more important; or having activities would get in the way of school work
Immigrant parents: or grandparents: raised in “natural growth,” stressing family, education, and religious values

She should have more diverse ethnicities: not just black and white; the ways some other race groups act and behave differs significantly than black and white: she should have a more diverse sample

She makes natural growth parents sound negligent: that they don’t care, or they are portrayed as not caring, that their children were not their priority; these parents seem to not love their children, but they must. How much attention they receive, and maybe not affectionate enough; middle class seems more affectionate (bonding in the family)
Not really negligent, but they actually care more about their children than themselves

Two categories: what if I’m between categories, don’t line up in the categories; she simplifies groups of people

She describes forms in a black and white manner: one way or the other and no in between.

She doesn’t sample families that fall into a “middle” class. So she has families who exhibit either a lack or a surplus of money. I don’t fall into either category; fall in between, or “comfortable” so they take a bit from both ways of raising kids.

Lareau underlines that social class and status determine how you end up raising kids, but that many not be true: it has to do with culture: nationality.
In any nation the wealthy will consider their kids projects; and the same with less fortunate; if parents want what’s better for kids, they’ll do what they have to do for their kids; sacrifices that all classes take

Social class is always in flux: can always change

American Dream: achieving the best: higher level of education, post-grad degree;
Getting married having kids: 2-3 kids
And a dog—and a nice house (5 bedrooms) and a nice fence, and a basement, and a pool and a garage
Two cars5 50 K per year
American Dream: coming to U.S.A. with nothing and making something of nothing, either in investing; working one’s way up; moving up in terms of money; starting in one social class and moving up to another;

American Dream: achieve the best only if you have the potential to be the best, make your own opportunities;

American Dream is to have the best opportunities

American Dream is not all about money; about having a good atmosphere, also has family values; peace in the house, a functional family

American Dream: varies depending on time period, not the same in the 1920s and when different groups migrate.

Current American Dream is what can I get for myself? Years ago, it was more about coming to U.S.A. and having a small business and keeping to yourself and being happy, and now it is more about how much money I can make, throw morals out the window.

Achieving success: maybe not even money; always try to get to the top, be the best competitor; beat the competition. Achieve the sense of entitlement.

American Dream means more than money and family, but changing one’s background, transcending one’s class background.

Good-paying job: nice kitchen (lots of space), big spaces in your house,

The relation between entitlement and competition:
Entitlement begins with competition:
If always entitled, they feel entitled to parents’ attention
Competition brought on by entitlement: entitlement is a sense of pride, lots of pride makes someone want to outdo others, which brings on competition

Competition is in the market economy

Competition: winners and losers; when some win, always entitled to win

Have to move diagonally—only the black squares
Can’t go backwards—unless you’re the King, once you reach the other side of the board
Can only move your own color
You win by getting all your opponent’s pieces by jumping them
You can jump more than once—double and triple jump

Tactics: advantages
Be on the look for double jump opportunities
Think ahead two or three moves
Set up pieces on the board for strategic reasons
Keep the back row

To cheat:
You could steal pieces off the board when the opponent isn’t looking
Move pieces when opponent isn’t looking
Make up new rules
Play with someone who doesn’t know how to play
Get opponent drunk and distract them
Lie and say that all your pieces are the Kings
Mess up the board, knock down all the pieces

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Nov 11 2010

Class Notes, 11/11/10

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Public schools vs. private schools
Public schools are cheaper: private schools charge tuition, public schools are free
Public schools are not as strict: rules and behaviors
Public schools are more ethnically diverse: but there are segregated public schools as
Private schools have higher status
Private schools offer better education
Less students go to private schools
Higher teacher: student ratio at private schools*
Private schools have more snow days
Public school students are less competitive
Private schools is organized better: cleaner buildings, more technology
Private schools have more resources
Private school students are preppier
Public school students don’t need to wear uniforms
Private schools are more conservative
Private schools have better transportation
Private schools offer more opportunities: clubs and activities
Public schools have lots of sports teams
Private school teachers make less money
Private schools are better financed
Private schools are not as corrupt with money or private spending*
Private schools don’t have metal detectors
Private schools have less security
Public schools separate church and state

Public: free/open to everyone/not well maintained/lots of people Private
Dirty, strange people, dangerous, less convenient
more cost-effective
WE PAY: for our taxes: the gov’t/the State

Parking/parking lot
Service announcement

Public university: funded by the State, or your taxpayer dollars
It’s good to have public universities because . . .
Without them most people wouldn’t be able to get a higher education
They are affordable for people who can’t afford or gain entrance to private
they’re cheap
more people can go to college
they are easy to commute to
sometimes they specialize in certain fields

Private/business-run corporate universities
University of Phoenix
ITT Tech
Monroe College

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Nov 09 2010

Interview Release Form

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Subject Participant Release Form TemplateFor your review: the template of the form you’ll be using for your interviews. Good luck.

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Nov 02 2010

2 Nov Class Notes

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Toward Essay 1
6 pages
PIE paragraphs
No/few “to be” verbs*
Perfect MLA
(includes works cited)

*Reminder of To Be verbs:

Lareau, Annette. Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life. Berkeley: U of
California P, 2003. Print.

Pg. 31: chart of concerted cultivation/natural growth
Organization of daily life
Interventions of institutions

pg. 2-3: bottom of page to top of page:
Deals with natural growth: elements of it such as stratification between children and adults, organization of daily life.

Pg. 67: “the greater emphasis on kinship”
natural growth is family oriented not so many activities, to be close to family, or social network, to interact with extended family

Working class background
Emerging sense of constraint

Language use:
Parents used directives

Pg. 3: “parents tend to use directives . . .”
Pg. 107: “one consequence of this is that [. . .] [w]hining [. . .] was rare in working-class and poor homes.”

“[. . .] less experience in negotiating with adults”

Directives: lack of communication when child grows up: if child is used to only hearing commands, s/he is going to know what to do by hearing it, not know how to do things by themselves because people tell them what to do; with conversation, they don’t develop skills of deeper thought, synthesizing meaning; no thinking with directives; enforced and defined line between child and authority: with that line that child understands his or her place and that follows throughout his or her life. They won’t challenge authority, maybe they’ll be afraid to challenge or question authority;

Rules of the game: know how to play game is different than playing game and not knowing you’re playing it.

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Oct 28 2010

Class Notes, 10/28

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Choose one: then use your experience in connection with the theory from the book.

USE some of Lareau’s vocabulary

Sense of constraint
Sense of entitlement
Child rearing
Social structure
Formal/informal play
Social class
Stratification: separating, “a stratified society is composed of different classes”
Organized activities
Class cultures
Life chances
Cultural capital: pg. 276: acquired and used
Where a person stands in society is not based on efforts . . .
What one is given . . .
Where you are in social structure is not in relation to what you’ve done or how
smart you are . . .

CAPITAL: money, business, production, economics, government, goods and services, supply and demand,

Investing: getting a return on your investment
Competition: between businesses for money, or shares of the market; Free enterprise
Everyone has to make their own money
Winners and losers: the winners are good capitalists

CAPITAL: example
Nike $65-$400
Look better, more stylish, used by rappers, famous spokespersons

Sketchers $35-$100
Less expensive

Concerted cultivation or Natural growth

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