There are teachers who earn their paychecks with an almost complete disregard for what is going on in their students’ lives, and who see their young charges as nothing more than incapable annoyances who could never compete with their five star students, those who take over the classroom and thus divide the class, labeling the kids who aren’t like them as not as good as they are. It’s all an unconscious, time-worn systemic thing, where classes are divided along socio-economic lines almost automatically by the end of the first week of the year.
This idea of certain students and teachers banding together to make a kind of subculture of superiority in the classroom, though it has been discussed here over the years (use the search bar to search for works like equity and the achievement gap) becomes now in light of recent events something I certainly want to explore more here. Do we let this kind of division continue, because it’s always been that way? Or do we step out of our comfort zones and make America great for the first time?
Think of the effects of such a group! It would be an antidote to the current danger where we as a profession may possibly let George Floyd and all the others’ lives be sacrificed on the alter of racism and hatred without a proactive, specific response in our field, since I don’t know of anyone else who might do this, certainly not the ivory tower fools at ACTFL, who are supposed to be leading us.
Let me state what the goal of such an online group would be – It would be to find ways to teach languages that are truly inclusive. Our goal would be inclusivity and happy engagement by each of our students and, if our classes don’t look different from how they looked in the past, we would call our efforts a failure.
That’s probably what will happen.
But could we maybe just start thinking about forming such a group, one which believes in the possibility that we can in fact learn to teach effectively against divided classes of the kind described above by finding specific inclusive ways to build community and thus inclusion for all? Or is that just too much for us?
I would call such a group Language Teachers United – LTU. Or we could, like ACTFL, continue on with our heads in the warmth and comfort of the sand.