A place for educators to find thought-provoking news, conversation and support for those who care about diversity, equal opportunity and respect for differences in schools
I like to switch things up every once in a while, so I assigned my high school students a project I’d never done before—a gift book. In addition to the academic value, I hoped to strengthen at least one teen-adult connection at a time when it’s sometimes hard to just grunt, “Good morning,” without an argument. (I know this because I have two teens in my own house.) I also wanted students to be able to create a keepsake to give a loved one during the holiday season. Many students could not afford to buy anything. In our rural school, many students come from low-income homes.
Several stacks of fake dollar bills enclosed in a Plexiglas case sit at the center of an exhibit entitled “RACE: Are We So Different?” at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. One stack towers over the others. This teetering pile of bills represents the average net worth of “white” people’s assets in relation to those of other racialized groups based upon data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau from 1997 to 2000. While the “Asian” stack is almost as high, the “black” stack can hardly be called a stack at all; the “Latino” stack is almost as low.
This year is the 50th anniversary of Roald Dahl's classic children's book James and the Giant Peach. In the story, 7-year-old orphan James Henry Trotter escapes his two rotten, abusive aunts by crawling into a giant peach, which rolls, floats and flies him to a new life of wonder and love.
Whenever I see a movie about teachers, I get a little nervous. I wonder how my profession will be represented. I’m always curious, but usually disappointed. I have found that on-screen teachers tend to perpetuate two frustrating stereotypes about the profession. The first is that anyone can teach—or worse—“those who can’t, teach.” There’s a misconception that teaching requires no special skills or talents beyond a basic knowledge of the content area. The other stereotype is teacher as martyr-saint. This portrayal assumes that the one qualification for being a good teacher is a heart of gold, a willingness to sacrifice everything out of love for children.
Most films ignore the complexity of the craft of teaching. This makes me cringe.
Somewhere around Thanksgiving, we’re bombarded with the commercial celebration of the holidays.
Schools are no exception, and the hype is difficult to ignore. Is this a great time for our students to study the holidays celebrated throughout the globe?
When I was in elementary school, it was common to overhear adults say that children were from “broken homes” if they lived with a single mom or dad or sometimes with grandparents. One of those families belonged to my friend Ellie, who lived with her mom. So I asked my father, a Congregational minister, why some people thought Ellie’s family was broken? Dad gently explained that strong families, Ellie’s included, have three characteristics: love, connectedness and commitment.
I used to tell my art students that some of the best art comes from mistakes. It seems the same is true for teaching. If we can be flexible enough to recognize the lesson in mistakes, we can go a long way with our students.
One of the most powerful gifts we can give our children—for the future of our nation—is a college education. It may, in fact, be the most powerful gift. For so many of our country’s greatest success stories, the golden ticket that launched the inspiring life was the chance to go to college.