Education will End Racism

Like everyone else I am at a loss of words and heartbroken over the events of George Floyd. So many issues are evident here and racism of course is one of them. I read a lot of posts from social media about white people doing something about this problem- this hundred of years old problem. This problem that is so childish- wait- no it is not childish because children by nature are not racist, they are groomed and molded to feel superior over another human.

Like so many I feel helpless and powerless over the issue. Who am I to try and make a difference? I’m just another minority as well. A Hispanic woman with no influence, money, or power to end something so big as racism.

I’ve seen people encourage each other to protest, donate money to an organization, to google what can be done to help black people feel more equal. So I thought about what I could do. Because doing nothing isn’t acceptable. What if George was my dad, or uncle, or my son? I know that I would want something done- hence hashtag justice for George Floyd.

So what am I doing about it? Well, I’ve been trying to do something for the last nine years in my classroom. That’s right, I teach my students about racism so they are aware of the ugly truth when people think and believe they are superior over others. We read literature like “March” by John Lewis. “Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry” and “The Watson’s Go to Birmingham” all stories about racism in the perspective of the black person.

We discuss the issues and I have them write speeches on how they can end racism. The ideas, the articulations, and the passion that these kids display is nothing less than that of what I read in social media- wait- again I give too much credit to the adults- these speeches by sixth graders are not passive aggressive memes to rile up the masses. They are the raw and radical ideas of the mind of a child who hasn’t been jaded by society, and if they come to my class believing they are superior to others then they are UNLEARNING racism.

As much as I would like to give money to an organization that helps fight racism, I really don’t know if that’s enough. As much as I would like to stand in front of a political institute with my signs and fist in the air, again, I don’t know if that’s enough. Heck, writing and publishing this post is definitely not enough because my audience is only in the two digits zone. I don’t have enough of an audience to influence anyone- I’m not Oprah or Glennon Doyle.

But you know what? I actually do have an audience. Hundreds of little minds ready to learn and discover the world around them. My blog and social media accounts may not reach further than my front door, but I have a platform that is more powerful than any I can think of. EDUCATION!! Teaching our children to care about others regardless of race, class, beliefs, sex, or sexual orientation and whatever differences we have! That right there is what we need to do more of. I call for all educators to teach our children better. If you’re a racist or sexist teacher then I challenge you to educate yourself about these issues.

What’s the point of teaching our children the academics to become an Engineer, Doctor, Lawyer, Plumber or Construction Worker if we don’t teach them to be kind to EVERYONE?!?

Yes the world needs kindness and love and equality, but these concepts don’t just fall from the sky, they have to be taught. What the world needs is EDUCATION in order to achieve the riches of equality, love, kindness and most importantly peace!

In the words of one of my students, “It will take an ENTIRE generation for racism to end and it begins with education!”

Love Always

Please share if you feel other educators need to be reminded as to why we became teachers in the first place.

Tight Rope Walking Professional Development in Education

I was able to attend the National Association of Gifted Children Conference these past two days and I am overwhelmed with the amount of information and classes they offered. It couldn’t have happened at a better time. The last couple of years I have felt a little tired and somewhat irritable with my teaching, mostly because I feel rushed, inadequate, and thrown in so many different directions I tend to lose my sense of direction.

Professional Development in the Education world is nothing more than a tight rope with ideology on one end and reality on the other. When we return to our classrooms it our job to walk on that tight rope. Somehow, we are asked, to not only walk without falling, but to juggle machetes with their handles on fire and do backflips so that we can keep our hyper active kids entertained and make sure they pass standardized tests with flying colors!

It amazes me how much research and development goes on about best practices for certain types of children. Yet, we still fall so short of achieving the bar that is set for us, or perhaps, it could be that the research is nothing more than hot smoke on a cold night. Granted, the presenters were excellent, informative, and very convincing, not to mention that they do offer HUGE discounts on their latest book and curriculum at the end of the ride.

As I sit and listen to these experts preach about all that is wrong with education, (God knows we have NO idea what’s wrong- wink-) and then proceed to tell me how to fix it, or at least how to accommodate and differentiate so that I can meet the needs of my students, I kept asking how do I close this gap that is ideal and real.

This is exactly why I became a Teacher. It is also why I fell in love with teaching Gifted Children. The tension between ideal and real is the reality of every great teacher. It is knowing and accepting that the tension will always be there and there will never be, or ever be, a perfect classroom, with a perfect teacher, with a perfect curriculum. I love that everyday is a challenge (okay, some days not so much, but that is why we have wine, right). I love that I can help my students discover more about their strengths and teach them skills they can use everyday- to love reading, to love learning, to love AND appreciate diversity. Mostly, I just want to hand the balance bar to them, (because handing them the machetes on fire is frowned upon) and have them walk the tight rope that is THEIR education. I’ll step off the tight rope and walk along side them- encouraging them, guiding them, teaching them.

I want to stop asking my students to perform and to start learning. I want to stop asking them what they want to be when they grow up and ask what problems they want to solve. The world is so big, so scary, so beautiful, so evil and so good. To really understand the responsibility we have has Educators, that we are preparing these future adults to live in THAT world, is scarier than walking on a tight rope juggling machetes with their handles on fire doing back flips.

I know it has been said so many times, in so many ways, but education should be student centered, not teacher centered, not parent centered, (as much as we are able), I know, I know, this blame game we play… it’s the teacher’s fault… no, it’s the parents fault…, all the while the student sits there sucking their thumb playing Fort Night as we bicker and complain about one another. I wonder what would happen if teachers and parents co-educate the student, and held the student responsible for their own learning, instead of acting like immature divorced couples using the kid as collateral damage? Oh, right, that would be too ideal. Back to the tight rope I go.

With all that said, I do love my job and I am grateful for the research and development that goes into the best practices, and at the end of the day, good things ARE happening in education. I know the pendulum can swing from one end to the other, but with that comes some great models, strategies, and ideas. The very fact that teaching is fluid, elusive, and always changing is what motivates me to keep trying, to keep going, and to enjoy the journey- because it is one crazy ride!

Love Always

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