Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Future of America

Sometimes I think I'm too severe when it comes to the kids I work with.
I hear some of the things I say & can't believe I'm turning into the buzz kill teachers I knew when I was in high school.
"Are you allowed to show THAT much of your mid-drift?"
"You guys, pokemon have absolutely nothing to do with Robert Frost!"
"For the 10th time, put your phone away before I take it up!"
& then I feel shitty. Because this isn't the person I think I am. At all.

And still, there are times when I'm reassured that I could stand to be even more stern with them.
One of these such times was this past Thursday when we handed out a reading about the way the Presidential Election of 2008 changed American Politics. The reading focused on Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama as the faces of new American Politics, but also mentioned other notable figures who had aspired to this feat.
The school I work in is a tier one facility, meaning at least 80% of the student body are living beneath the poverty line, and the students are primarily Latino. Of 120 students I work with, there are among them only 8 who are non-Latino; 7 students who are Black American and one who is a Thai immigrant. So I was excited to hand out this reading to them and talk to them about how politicians are going to be more concerned with their votes and voices in the future.

Getting them to actually read this 2 page article was more painful than using pliers to pull out finger nails.

After they completed the reading, they were supposed to write a summary and a brief explanation of their own feelings on the article. As the class ended, one student turned in her essay to me; a meager 4 lines.
The story was about the first African American woman to be elected President of the United States. Her name was Edith Wharton. I'm glad she's President of the United States. This story was cool.

"Alejandra, did you even read this article at all?!"
"Yeah, Miss, look at my paper!"
"Alejandra, I'm really impressed."
"You are?!?"
"Yes. To turn this in is not only a total lack of concern for your grade in this course, but also tells me you've never read a newspaper or watched the 6 o'clock news in your life."
"Haha news is boring, Miss. & ain't nobody got time for that."

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