Friday, September 14, 2007


This semester, the teacher of one section of basic writing, in which 13 of the 15 students are student-athletes, is having them read and write about education. It's like she's having them continually ask, "Why are you in this class?" and they are finally starting to really listen to the question.

This week, they are reading a piece by Mike Rose. In it, he writes about the low expectations and low results from tech-prep courses for inner city kids. He has a line: "Students will float to the mark you set for them." I have been amazed and pleasantly surprised to talk with my students about what this means to them. They are beginning to see themselves in the work. They'll say things like, "Nobody expects them to do anything, so they don't do nothing. This is kind of like me!"

I'll ask, "Whose fault is it that the students are doing poorly in class?" Last week, in response to a similar essay, they all said, "The kids! They need to work harder." Now, after reading Rose and seeing the teachers using racial slurs, ignoring them, paddling the South LA students, my students look up at me timidly. When I ask the same question, they say, "The teachers? Because the teachers don't respect the kids? So the kids give up?"

Regardless of opinions on fault for the current state of education, nobody can deny that these kids are interacting with writing. They are responding and making statements, analyses. I feel so much hope right now. I just know good things are happening in that classroom.

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