Don't you love it when a moment in time seems to spin on a dime and come to a standstill and it is heads up you win? That happens in teaching every blue moon when a student gives you feedback that he or she actually GOT the lesson and now Owns It, as they say.
Yes it is rare and getting rarer as I get older which scares me; we have a saying in education, a bit of a mantra, a prayer we say just before entering a classroom that it will go as well as we have planned and imagined it, but it seldom does. We also tell colleagues just before ducking into the classroom that we must go forward to stomp out ignorance, and we say it like Lancelot on a charger, and we want to believe it, but ignorance like fear, hatred, bigotry, jealousy, and all the horrid things of human nature that are in any classroom are not easily vanquished.
I taught a class not long ago called Race & Gender. It is a required course at the university where I teach--WVSU. At any rate, it is an eye-popping, brain delving, mind bending, mind opening class for students--Freshmen mostly although it was mixed. It is a required course at said university and credit for it does no necessarily transfer--which is sad, because this course or one similar should be taught at every school and it should begin in high school if not earlier.
The course delves deeply into the psyche of mankind and the myths he has created surrounding both gender and race, and using documentary films, classroom discussion, small group discussions, and lecture every aspect of the absolute garbage and nonsense surrounding race is explored--as for instance the economic reasons why one race wishes to legislate against another race to create some of the most backwoods nonsense and call it law as in The Jim Crow Laws. In this class students actually have an opportunity to read the wording of such laws as well as the US Constitution and compare some ridiculous state laws mandated against our Federal laws and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Man what an eye-opener! For some....but for others who are blind they will not see; for some who have been brainwashed early on in life, they can never see that race in itself is a concept that is false and mythological nonsense when we accept the fact that we are all of One Race - The human race.
The lessons on gender are just as mouth-wateringly great. The readings alone give young people an appreciation for the struggle that women in the US had to go through to be considered human beings, members of the race! It speaks too of the need for the world to recognize that women are not chattel anymore than is a person of color.
Great and abiding lessons and I believe my class went away with a deeper appreciation for such huge ideals as we aspire to in the US Constitution and in US life, despite how often we come up short in practice. I try to teach my students to be among the ten or twenty percent among us who are leaders and who are doers and fixers, those who will step in to break up a fight or save a kid from falling from a grocery cart rather than hold back in indecision but also to step in on the larger issues like Tolerance. Then comes news of a goofy bunch of throwbacks who plunge us all into again accepting some horrific notion such as hanging is too good for ______________fill in the blank. You may or may not have heard of this religious nut group in Minnesota who are running people for office who agree with them that people of a different sexual orientation than theirs are to be executed. So there is that....our always slipping back and away from evolving and going instead into devolving. This is not to say that some of my students and many of our race are not saintly and of good heart and cheer, but among us walk the baboons and the Neanderthals as well and this frightens me and leaves me sad.
one great ebook - Children of Salem = romance in the time of the witch trials, a Kindle Original Title.