David’s comment on the toughness of his largely Asian ESL kids in supporting families working for the corporation called FedEx gives us cause to reflect on what we are really doing in education.
What is our profession really all about? In my opinion, what we do exhibits a form of patriotism that is of a different quality than the one we hear so much about, the form that takes the form of pin lapels that laborers (think of the movie “Metropolis”) could never hope to wear in their lapels because owning a suit would be out of their conception.
In fact, where one type of patriot would have it that those Asian and Hispanic kids would work in grinding poverty for them until they die early, the other seeks to find ways to help them. Until we had comprehensible input, we couldn’t help them and it made some of us almost crazy with patriotic frustration when we saw only white females in our AP classes, those privileged kids from parents who ran the country, win all the prizes and get into college at a rate alarmingly inconsistent with what one would expect to see in a racially balanced society.
How to help all kids in our great free and democratic nation get a chance for a piece of the pie? How to see some results? It wasn’t working in our classrooms as year after year, the white kids went home with the prizes and the kids of color went home with the chance to work for the white kids five or ten years later, at about $5/hour. Try raising a family and buying a house on that.
David and I have roughly the same professional history and experience and we both clearly have come to the same conclusion: we can, by using comprehensible input methods, help kids in grinding poverty, and that IS the term, David, get a chance to get out of it. How?
By giving no homework and by teaching in a way that honors the way the language acquistion process really works, we give our students confidence, which is not something that happens in American schools in spite of the billions of dollars spent in that interest by people who don’t really get what the Achievement Gap is really about.
My 100% Latino classes, 95% of whom live below the poverty line, can come to class, be honored with a way that doesn’t make them feel stupid, move easily to the next level, and thereby have extra time and a chance to improve their GPA, and slowly maybe move further and further away from the poisonous perception that the white corporate power state would like to keep them in, that they are stupid, which they are most certainly not.
My point here, my response to David, is that I really hear what you are saying in between the lines in your poignant comment David – that what we see on a daily basis can drive us nuts unless we, perhaps, in good faith, can keep this monstrous racism in perspective and embrace our jewel or comprehensible input methodology and keep it alive in an arc that certainly is moving towards goodness, even if it very often doesn’t seem that way.
The Problem with CI
Jeffrey Sachs was asked what the difference between people in Norway and in the U.S. was. He responded that people in Norway are happy and
2 thoughts on “Response to David 1”
“My 100% Latino classes, 95% of whom live below the poverty line, can come to class, be honored with a way that doesn’t make them feel stupid, move easily to the next level, and thereby have extra time and a chance to improve their GPA, and slowly maybe move further and further away from the poisonous perception that the white corporate power state would like to keep them in, that they are stupid, which they are most certainly not.”
Yes, yes, and YES! The majority of my students also live below the grinding poverty line and for most of them, Spanish class is the ONLY class where they feel successful. I often have other teachers comment that their most “challenging” students absolutely love Spanish class– and they very rarely challenge me. Luckily I teach elementary kids so they get to experience success early on and I really, really hope that it sticks with them. I credit this method with the connection and confidence boost that they experience– the whole point is that it should be about THEM (which for my kids is crucial- nowhere in the school system do they see themselves reflected even minimally) and that no one should EVER fall behind. If they don’t understand, we aren’t doing our job right! Either we’re going too fast or we are out of bounds! Where else do kids get to experience their own power and greatness and get that kind of support?
I teach in a district that is 90% white and for the most part, middle-upper
21.4% of the student population is economically disadvantaged but the community as a whole has money. It’s a very suburban district. But I still have plenty of students who are “rough around the edges” I teach at a middle school and one of my 7th graders this year got in trouble a lot last year and rarely was able to go out to recess. He is doing AWESOME in my class though, he’s a pleasure to have and I think I have TPRS and early personalization with Circling with Cards to thank for this. This method truly is for every single student and I completely understand now why Ben has said repeatedly that our classes are sometimes the only ones in which some students are seeing success in.