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
Growing up, no one told me that people shouldn’t be gay. My parents didn’t tell me I shouldn’t talk to kids whose parents were lesbian. My neighbors didn’t rant against the horrors of gay rights. Instead, all the people in my life encouraged me to live openly, to take people’s personalities and see the beauty in them, to smile at the adorable young couple clutching each other’s hands, no matter their gender. Love was love. I lived in a world blissfully ignorant about the cruelties of the “real world.”
“Dad, what is the Clue Clux Clan,” asked my 10-year-old son Bakary as we sat under a shade tree on Saturday in Montgomery, Ala. We were waiting to register for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 40th anniversary celebration.
“Well, it’s the Ku Klux Klan,” I told him. “Do you remember the old song that goes, “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight?" Well, the KKK thinks only white people are precious and they try to hurt people who think differently.”
“Oh, I’m glad it’s not the ‘Clue Clux Clan’ because they don’t have a clue,” he said.
As part of the kick-off to the Southern Poverty Law Center's 40th anniversary festivities, second grade students from Notre Dame Elementary in Portsmouth, Ohio, offered congratulations and insight into just how simple it could be to change our world.
Sometime in the next week or so, the Senate of the state of Tennessee will probably approve the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. It’s a proposed law that states, “No public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality” in grades K-8.
Elementary school-aged children get no time to just be, experience their own selfhood, to rest. It’s important for the development of creativity, for mental growth and even for discovering something new. However, from the time most children get up in the morning until they go to sleep at night, someone is hurling demands at them.
The question above was posed to me in the comments section of a blog post I wrote recently. The post was entitled "Imani and the Cabbage Seeds." In it, I wondered about “isms”—racism, sexism and other things that either separate people or give one group power over another.
I broke a toe recently. Woke from a deep sleep, ambled around my apartment for just a few moments and then thump! I hit my foot on a piece of furniture.
As I hobbled around in the days that followed, lost in the effort of just getting about, I thought “this is what it must feel like to be old.” And then—“this is what it feels like to have a disability.”
When I was studying to be a teacher, I had to write a philosophy of education. This essay was to explain what I believed about kids and the role teachers and education played in their lives. I wrote that all kids could learn, that they all deserved equal access to inspired teaching and that my role was to meet them wherever they were and serve them in the way that best met their needs.
Although I still believe those things are true, I've come to realize that my teaching is driven more by a different philosophy than the one I wrote about.