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Showing posts from February, 2012

The President's Hair

I've talked before about how excited I was when Barack Obama was elected - not just because I thought he was the best candidate (I did and still do), but also because he's black.  And he has a black wife.  And black kids.

The city where I worked is a disturbingly segregated city for an area that considers itself progressive and diverse.  I have often heard statistics cited to show how racially diverse Oakland is, ignoring the fact that in many neighborhoods - especially the poorest and richest ones - there is virtually no diversity.

The kids in my neighborhood felt this acutely.  When I brought up the idea of desegregation of schools, one of them scornfully pointed out that black kids and white kids don't go to the same school - and in her experience, she was right.Although none of these kids - or even their parents - had ever experienced segregation due to laws, certain ideas were so foreign to them that they assumed they were legally prohibited.

I took the kids on a fiel…

A Father's Affection

In the classroom, I didn't have a lot of interaction with my students' fathers.  There were a few, but I remember them clearly because there were so few.  Most of them were not around, incarcerated, or just not involved in life at school, preferring to leave those responsibilities to the mothers and grandmothers.

As I've been tutoring in students' homes, I still don't see many fathers.  I primarily deal with the mothers, and often don't meet a student's father until a year or more into our tutoring relationship.  Other fathers are present but let their wives deal with scheduling, feedback, and payment. 

Many of these men seem to be somewhat shy about getting involved with their children.  I don't usually get the feeling that they consider themselves above being interested in school, but often that they don't really know how they fit in. 

I've notice with one man, particularly, that he seems to be really proud of his middle school daughter and h…

More Regrets

I talked briefly about some of the regrets I have here but I've thought of more.  Fortunately, there are many, many things I do not regret (like the feelings paper), but there are a few things I would like to do differently.

Most of my regrets have to do with adult bullying.  I think many people wouldn't classify it as such but I would.  For example:

I regret that, when I was volunteering in a class after I stopped teaching, that I did not stand up to a bullying teacher.  She was a fantastic teacher - for any student who was willing to sit still, behave the way she wanted, and learn by direct instruction.  However, when children had learning difficulties, behavior problems, or emotional trauma causing them to act out, she shamed them.  Sh called them names, she told them that they would never do well, and she almost mocked them.  I don't remember if she ever used the word "worthless" but that was certainly what she was calling several children, whether she said …