Monday, January 12, 2009

Segregation for Seven Year Olds

It's that time again, the ever difficult how-do-I-explain-this-eloquently-and-age-appropriately event of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Children are a unique group-1980 is forever ago, black and white pictures are a gazillion years old, the Constitution is fair, and the law treats everyone equal. 

Oh to be seven and have the ability to live in a sheltered and naive bubble.  There is something magical about talking to children about segregation, discrimination and equality.  There is an intrinsic "that's not fair" reaction from all students.  To watch their eyes get big when they realize it wasn't that long ago people of different races couldn't get married (especially when they have parents of different races) or that they couldn't play with their best friends anymore. Most importantly when you tell them that things still aren't fair for everyone-they get it.  Not only do they get it, they want to change it.  And that is a powerful feeling.  To see seven year olds understand (to the best of their seven year old ability) why people fought against discrimination and how people still are fighting today and then to watch them get all impassioned and want to change the world, it makes you feel all tingly and sappy inside.  Realizing that the children in my classroom may one day be those who vote to give me my rights creates a sense of urgency to teach not tolerance-but acceptance and respect.  You have to believe it matters, because if you don't believe it-why should they?

Ok, enough seriousness for one post-on to a fun story from the end of the day starring "A"-a little boy with limited English speaking (and comprehending) ability.

A-You no married Miss _______?

[Y'all, we have been over this, and over this, and over this.....]

Me-No, I'm not married.  That's why it's Miss ____ and not Mrs. _____.
A-What you no married?  Why you no have husband?

[Dude, are you my student or my grandmother?  Seriously.]

Me-No, no husband.  Why do I need to be married A?
A-Cuz, you do.  You no want babies?  You need to have marry to have babies.
Me-I don't need any children right now, I have 23 that I take care of every day.
A-I think you no want a husband.  I think you should still get married.

[If he only understood the truth of that statement.]

Me-One day A, I'll get married one day.
A-Good.  I come.  I buy you good present!


sheA said...

Teach on Teacher Friend- YOU ROCK!!!

Carolyn said...

If I had a nickle for every time you make me go 'awww' in your entries I'd be pretty well off. I would have gotten 20 cents from this entry alone ;)

I love your kids.

The Surprise Dyke said...

Shea-no, you rock!

The Surprise Dyke said...

Carolyn-I agree, they are some pretty amazing kids :-)