Skip to comments.What's it like to teach black kids?
Posted on 07/05/2009 6:16:27 AM PDT by cyberella
Despite almost 50 years of large and accelerating efforts to improve the school achievement of African-American students, the gap between their achievement and that of whites and Asians remains about as large as ever.
Yet proposals for what to do about it seem basically unchanged: Spend more money and divert existing money to reduce class size and train teachers better, have more students take a rigorous college prep curriculum, work on improving self-esteem, eliminate ability-grouped classes, use cooperative-learning techniques, and reassign top teachers to schools with a high percentage of African-American students.
I have become especially doubtful about whether those approaches will work better in the future than they have in the past when I read this report from the trenches. Usually, we hear only from politicians and education leaders (who also are politicians) spouting lofty rhetoric. Occasionally, we hear of a promising program, but which never turns out to be scalable. Or we see a Hollywood movie about some amazing teacher.
We rarely, however, hear from a more typical teacher who, day to day, teaches low-achieving African-American kids. So it was with interest that I read this truly depressing account from a teacher. I've edited out a couple of unnecessarily snarky sentences, which are irrelevant to the issue. Nonetheless the essay is long yet, I believe, worth your time.)
The essay does make me feel uncomfortable because while it presents an eye-opening report from the trenches, it is just one person's report and one that feels more extreme than what I experienced when I taught in a heavily African-American school. Also, while the author made passing mention that not all Blacks behaved as he described, those comments felt, to me, too parenthetical.. Of course, many black students are high-achieving and motivated.
But I decided to post this teacher's essay on my blog for the following reason. The much-needed women's movement was triggered not just by measured academic tomes but also by passionate statements that, even though often excessively male-bashing, shone powerful light on women's plight. Similarly, I believe we need to hear passionate (even if deeply frustrated and overly drawn) reports from the trenches on this issue. For decades, we've certainly heard plenty of the lofty rhetoric from education leaders and academics yet the achievement gap remains and little new is being proposed. I hope that my posting this will make a small contribution toward a more full-dimensioned view of the problem and thus in turn, toward identifying more promising approaches and not be used to justify racist behavior toward African-Americans. That is the last thing I want.
After you read this essay, I hope you'll post your thoughts on what if any implications you believe this has for what we should do differently to better serve the needs of African-American kids, their non-African-American classmates, and in turn, the nation as a whole.
Update, July 4, 2009: I have reviewed the over 150 comments on this essay, updated my knowledge of the research on what works in reducing the racial achievement gap, and drafted a plan for doing so. Here's the link.
What is it Like to Teach Black Students?
by Christopher Jackson
Until recently I taught at a predominantly black high school in a southeastern state. contined at http://martynemko.blogspot.com/2009/06/white-teacher-speaks-out-what-is-it.html
Hey now who needs a good education when you have affirmative action.
Recently watched part of a brutishly-honest HBO documentary about Baltimore’s Frederick Douglass High school, and was reminded of my wife’s part-year as a translating aide at the biggest high school around. Classes seem to often begin with a large black girl hollering “Hey, why you axin’ us to sit down ‘cause you ain’t sittin’ down? You think we gon’ give any respeck we don’t be gettin’? How come you think you gots to make us learn your way? Our way be diff’ent and fresh, jus’ like we be fresh to you. We sit when we ...”
I taught in the trenches. It’s class. Not color.
Speaking from a 1 year stint teaching middle school in Detroit..it was HELL! I was on the wrong side of the bars every day for 9 months. There was no teaching, it was about surviving each day for myself and my students.
The idyllic teaching perceptions I graduated with were beaten down and there was nothing left to give. I gave up...but I did survive the year.
My sister teaches in an inner city school in New Orleans (mostly black), and has told me many horror stories. Here are some:
Kids stimulating sex
Kids calling her the "F" word.
Kids jumping on chairs during class time
Kids with knives
Etc. Basically a lot of out of control kids.
The stories are real, but at the same time, many of the kids are funny, warm, compassionate, caring, want to do better in life, etc. Some go on to college.
If one student cusses her out, five will chime in to shut up. She has plenty of likable kids, and a number of them are involved in their churches. She's totally burnt out by the end of the school year, but she goes back in the fall because she does love the kids and does make a difference in many of their lives.
The guy who wrote that article should never have been near a mostly black school. Good riddance.
I think a big part of the solution would be to get the parents involved and have them put a foot in their kids’ butt. Now we have too many who think their kid can do no wrong.
That essay could have been written by me or one of the teachers from my high school following the integration of the white and black high schools in my home town in 1969. My high school went from 100% white to 80% black.
I graduated from public high school in 1972 with the few white kids whose parents couldn’t afford to send them to private school. We’d walk the halls, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, going from one chaotic classroom to another chaotic classroom. The teachers had no control and the principal, who was black, didn’t seem to give a damn.
Now, almost 40 years and trillions of dollars later, the scene is virtually unchanged and unimproved.
“proposals for what to do about it seem basically unchanged”
My frame of reference wrt this goes back as far as the late 1950’s in terms of perceiving learning attitude (not aptitude) and results with blacks, admittedly minimal in social/civilian life, but quite a bit more in the military.
The statement I snipped above is astonishing! The attitude of society in general and educators changed drastically in the late 1960’s with the advent of the “great society” and all that it brought forth across the spectrum.
My Afro age-group-peers and those who are even older are much better educated than the vast majority of the present day examples. This is only my own opinion.
The conspiracy of ignorance amongst educators is real, and it has dumbed down ALL public education, and over time statements such as the one snipped above have come to fit within and be accurate within the frames of reference of those who would make such a statement.
The left has spent 50+ years telling blacks that they are inferior, victims, incapable of success and entirely dependent upon the government. In other words, democrats/leftists have gleefully destroyed an entire race for the purpose of buying votes and winning elections.
And let the truth be told. The left simply are evil!
That was an excellent read, thank you. It sums up my opinion that in general there is no accountability built into black society and no ambition to excel or take advantage of the educational opportunities that are available. Instead there is a very deliberate pattern of thumbing their noses at white values. I didn’t see any mention of parental involvement in this article. It’s a definite class issue and not about race at all. Look at how Asian students typically place in the top of their classes despite poverty and language issues. White flight is still very real because once large groups of black students populate a school learning becomes secondary to their classroom antics, excuses and intimidation. Nobody learns anything. It’s a very sad vicious circle.
No surprise there, but it’s encouraging to hear someone speak the truth once in a while.
The answer is pretty simple: human biodiversity. See http://vdare.com/sailer/071203_iq.htm, http://www.halfsigma.com/2009/06/hbd-human-biodiversity.html, and http://onestdv.blogspot.com/2009/05/quick-easy-to-understand-primer-on.html.
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