An open mind. I would never expect students to change the ways they think. Instead, what I wish for them is the ability to see things differently. Through the eyes of another person. Maybe another way.
This week has been challenging for me. It has been eye opening in many ways. Things have happened to me personally which rocked me. Then in my classes.
If I am one thing it is idealistic. I never want that to change. It is the foundation of who I am as a person, mom, teacher, wife, and anything else one can come up with. I walk in and want to see the best in everything. It makes my heart hurt when it isn’t there. It upsets me when it falls apart.
I teach argumentative writing, so by default we debate. We were talking about communities in one of my classes. I wondered if our country had ever had or will have the feeling of community. I got a hard, “No.” I am not perplexed by this. Saddened, yes.
There was no further discussion. It seems that even in a room with students from all over the U.S. and a few from outside our borders there is the same sentiment. We are so far divided we can’t ever come back.
Yesterday was hard for me. It honestly broke my spirit a little bit.
Then today happened. Every semester I teach Dr. King and Malcolm X back to back. I LOVE those two pieces. Today was Dr. King’s “Three Ways of Meeting Oppression.”
Starting by identifying each way, this group had the best discussion. We talked about how groups can really be heard. What happens when it is time to make a voice heard? Some of them come from places which are far from safe. Their stories today were eye opening for some of us. However, those students who never say anything is class had lots to say. They were the ones with the ideas and could express what it really means to live under an oppressive rule.
What did that mean for me? They talked. They broke through the conditioning of their societies and came into my little weird bubble. Honestly, it healed me a little. See, this is what makes me idealistic. The fact we can have students who come over here for whatever reason and they end up not only learning themselves but teaching us more than we teach them.
If we would really listen to each other and not listen to respond there could be so much done. This is what happened today. Questions were asked. Real questions. The discussion was amazing. It was productive. It was honest.
I am going to take that into my other class on Monday and do argument games with it. Why? Because. I have students in there with such a closed view of what is and isn’t. How it should and shouldn’t be. Who matters and doesn’t. What equality means.
In the end what I want them to understand is this; we cannot move in any positive directions if we hold onto negative concepts. We must be willing to have an open dialogue. There has to be communication.