Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sensitive Issue

An interesting "He said; She said" is developing in Hartford, CT. Now, I don't presume to know the facts, but I had a problem with a quote from one of the students. And, believe me, I know how sensitive the issue can be, and so I will tread carefully.
On the second page of the article, the columnist relays this information:

Even Jose said he believes that Williams tries to fit in with his students, and thinks that Williams' motivation is that he wants to be the students' favorite teacher.
But does he fit in?"Of course not," Jose said. "He's white."

Okay, so, because a teacher is of a different race, he can't relate to his students? There are two things that bother me. One is the assumption that teachers must share race or gender with a student in order to "fit in." A human being who is intelligent, savvy, and aware can "fit in" with whoever happens to be around him. If connecting with the people around us required us to share racial identity, we certainly would be living in a time not of today.
I don't wish to make it sound like the world we live in is not sprinkled with intolerance and nearsightedness when race or gender issues arise. Clearly, one has an advantage with making connections should obvious similarities be present. But, if we are all tolerant people, race or gender should not matter, whether one is a student or a teacher.
The second area of concern is, seeing as I am offended by the statement, "He's white," in reference to ability, meaning, the student is tying race with ability to connect, does the student get held accountable, or do we simply let it go because he is a student. An adult who makes a statement tying race to ability would be chastised. The teacher is being brought to task over an alleged remark, yet the student is not being brought to task over one in print.
Again, I don't wish to step on toes. But it relates to my previous post. Students need to be responsible and held accountable.


At 11:35 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I honestly think this teacher made a mistake and used an inappropriate term while trying to "help" his students by talking about personal appearances and how it affects people's perceptions of others. However, I agree that the statement the student made needs to be addressed. I remember being accussed of racism by a hispanic student because he was constantly getting in trouble in my classroom (threatening other students, disruptions including foul language, etc.). I felt terrible about the accusation (made while he was on his way out the door to the principal's office for the third time in a month) until I found out that he accussed every teacher he had of the same thing each time he got into trouble. Yet, I was disappointed that his accusations were never addressed as part of the disciplinary procedure. It was just shrugged off as an angry kid trying to get attention or blame someone else for his troubles.

At 12:26 PM , Blogger HappyChyck said...

Wow! Great eye. I'm reading the article thinking that the teacher has probably crossed the boundary in trying to relate to or inspire the students, and you pick up what's really wrong--the student's perception. You're right. It's okay for students have certain assumptions about teachers based on race, skin color, and even age. It's not okay for teachers to do the same. In a classroom, which is more common? Small-minded teachers or small-minded students? Just another battle we face each day...


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