Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Today I got called a "Kassaq" by one of my students while they were upset at me. That is basically the term for white cracker around these parts. I was trying to get the student to do work in class. As I zeroed in on the fact that the student really wasn't doing anything, the student got defensive. My tone changed and I started taking the students argument apart. As I did this the student said "That's kassaq talk" very seriously. I wish I would have thrown the student right out of my class. But, that is what every other teacher would have done. It was a really surreal experience. If the student only knew how much time I spend trying to make my class as un white as possible. Maybe I can't though. I am, after all, white. I don't know anything about what it would be like to be Cu'pig. I will never be anything other than white. The difference between me and a lot of teachers though is that I know that 90% of the stuff we ask kids to do, especially minority students, is completely useless and pointless. That is why I spend so much time trying to do something else in class. To have those efforts appreciated in the form of basically being lumped into a group with a bunch of crusty compassionless old white teachers stings a little. Have I already lost my touch? Well, this whole thing happened in Math class. I am not a math teacher. I don't know how to teach math. I think Math is pretty much a pointless subject for a high school student. But, they have to do it to graduate. You really can't do much in the world today if you don't. Thats why I don't try to pretend like the type of math they are doing is important. I just try to help them get through it so they can do what is important, graduate and become a complete mess like the rest of us. Just like us, they will have to learn what interest rates are. They will stumble through budgeting their meager pay. They will make mistakes and some of them will be big ones. It kind of goes along with everything else you learn in life. I can't really show these kids much of anything except for how to get out of school so that they can start learning the way the rest of us did. I especially can't show them much of anything if I am a "Kassaq" to them. A Kassaq to me is someone who would never come to teach in Alaska. A Kassaq to me could give a rat's ass about their students needs. A Kassaq to me doesn't even know that this freaking town exists. I am not a Kassaq. How did I go from being at hippie festivals a month ago to being looked at like the "Man" himself in only a month and a half? I mean I'm reading the Bob Dylan autobiographical chronicles for Christ's sake.