Archive | September, 2012

Public School Integration, 21st Century Style

30 Sep

Although parts of it make me cringe (“I feel like at this age, they don’t really see color,”) this is a fascinating little article from NPR about white, upper-class parents in Birmingham, Alabama, sending their children to public schools, which are 95% black, and 90% free- and reduced-lunch.

New Wave Of School Integration In Birmingham, Ala.

Although the article focuses mainly on the gentrification and racial issues, there are a few points that relate directly to things we’ve talked about in class. For one, the above quote about how kids “don’t see color.” Adults seem to have this strange idea that children are color blind. They see color, but many of them just haven’t lived enough to know they are supposed to care about it. It is we (adults, society, history) who put meaning behind the color of a person’s skin.

The article also mentions the difference between teaching styles of inner-city school vs. the methods “favored by many middle-class parents.” To me, this is NPR’s way of noting the difference between black teachers and white teachers. There is a difference. There is nothing wrong with noting that this difference exists. Reading Vivian Paley’s White Teacher, and Lisa Delpit’s review of the book in Rethinking Our Classrooms, I find it interesting to note that we talk a lot about white teachers working with black students, but not the opposite. Lisa Delpit notes that “When teachers are teaching children who are different from themselves, they must call upon parents in a collaborative fashion if they are to learn who their students really are.” (Rethinking Our Classrooms, Vol 1, p 160) This goes both ways. I hope that the teachers at this school in Birmingham are comfortable collaborating with the parents of their new students. Only then will these students truly receive the full power of a multicultural education, as discussed in the article.

Cursive

13 Sep

In 3rd grade, students learn cursive. Cursive? Cursive. I think I know what I need to practice.

Eleven Years Later

11 Sep

I choked up during the Pledge of Allegiance today.
I realized that these students were born in a world where it is possible for people to fly airplanes into buildings as an act of political terror. They were born into a a world where “terror” is a thing that can be done to you. They were born into a world at war.
While in AmeriCorps, each September 11 I participated in Patriots Day, National Day of Service. We turned the day into a day to make positive impact.
Last year, I was unemployed.
This year, I am surrounded by these 8 year olds, born three years after the world changed. We are in charge of the world they will live in. What kind of world will it be?

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