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Showing posts from August, 2011

Slavery

There is a blog post I want to share, from a blogger I really like, because it reminds me of some interactions I've had with some of my students.  This blogger talks about her (black) kids going to a slavery exhibit and getting really scared.  It felt to real to them and the fact is, if they had been born into a different time, they might have been put on a real one of these ships.

Kids don't really understand timelines.  I've had many students, in all seriousness, ask me if I had slaves as a little girl.  Or if Martin Luther King, Jr. freed the slaves.  Or if they lived in Africa if they would have been captured and sold.  It's interesting, because in many ways, we try to "child-proof" history, like I've talked about before - making fun little Underground Railroad mazes and word searches.  But history is really scary in many ways.  Is it better to protect kids or to explain the truth to them?

The Feelings Paper

Feelings can be very scary for children, and in the lower grades, they often don't have the vocabulary they need to express their feelings.  Frustration, anger, sadness - sometimes even excitement - can all lead to kids acting out in a number of ways.

I wish more adults understood that there is always always a reason for kids to act the way they are acting.  They aren't just being "bad" because they want to be - there's something behind it.  Some kids hit others when they are angry, some kids put their heads down and become unresponsive when they're sad, and some kids interrupt constantly when they are nervous.  There's always a motivation behind the behavior, but children are often not equipped to see this.

One of the things I'm most proud of is creating this silly piece of paper that the kids called the "feelings paper."  I did it right before the first day of school one year and I wished I had done it sooner.  I've seen similar things…

Labels

I was in a crowded public area with a friend last week when I saw a woman in a really short skirt.  I kind of nudged my friend and looked toward the woman and my friend didn't see her.  I whispered to her what I was looking at (she skirt was really short) and my friend still didn't see her.  I tried a few other descriptors: the woman with short hair, the woman with brown shoes, etc.  Then I realized what I didn't say.  I didn't say that it was the black woman.  That would have pointed her out right away.

Aside from why it was so important to me to point this woman out (it wasn't that important, but once I had said it, for some reason, I wanted to make my point), I thought later about why I was so hesitant to point out the woman's race.  I was willing to use just about every other descriptor, but for some reason if felt wrong to say "the black woman." 

I have noticed this at school too.  The kids were very direct.  "Who hit you?"  "That …

Separate

I wrote another blog for Teaching Tolerance that you can find here.  It describes an eye-opening experience I had in my second year of teaching about how drastically segregation/separation can affect children.  I'd love it if you read it!  Even more exciting is the fact that they want me to blog for them regularly!

One more note: If you read this blog on the actual website and not through RSS or Facebook, you may have noticed a "Donate" button to the right.  This is a tip jar. I write this blog because of my passion for justice and my desire to ignite that passion in others. Unfortunately, passion don't pay the bills. If you appreciate my work here, please donate!  I will also be sharing more valuable teaching tips and strategies in the future (things I wish someone had told me), so if that helps you and you'd like to express your gratitude, every little bit helps me devote more time to writing about these topics.  Thank you!

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