Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thursday Blown Away

The Cup'ig class needed to use my room during my planning period. I'm sitting here, astonished, watching my students that play me, jerk me around, don't focus, don't talk, sleep, don't participate or seem to understand anything I say sometimes, but in this class they listen, participate, vocalize answers, laugh, and look like engaged interested students.

The class was being taught by an older sister of one of the students and a member of the community that also teaches in the kindergarten class. The students respected them and treated them like humans.

I'm starting to think that I'll never really gain the respect or treatment of someone from around here. This really sort of messes with me, because I constantly am thinking that I could be a better teacher. I try to find new ways to get to know my students, understand them, find new ways of sparking their interests and pulling from their funds of knowledge, but after seeing the way this class operated I believe that I might never get the response I desire. I am not them, and I can never be.

My goals for class are pretty simple. I don't want them to do loads of worksheets. I don't want them to give up their dreams so that they can become slaves to the anglo-centric upper white class language and tradition of a stifling and antiquated education system. I don't want them to read hundreds of pages of material and memorize bulls**t. I just want them to be excited about life. I want them to treat each other peacefully. I want them to treat me like a person not a kassak or a white person or a "teacher." What is it about sitting kids down in a building, standing in front of them, asking them to do things (even if they have a point), that brings out these unfortunate dynamics of communication and interaction?

To watch a person who doesn't even have a "teaching" degree command their students respect, attention and interest makes me wonder if anything I learned about teaching was valid at all. Quite frankly, I'm pretty sure it has hurt me more than helped in many instances here in Mekoryuk. I bow my head to these teachers as they are the true masters of learning here. The fact is the best way to teach children is to be part of their culture, and I most certainly am not.

Then where should I go? What should I do? Should I move back to middle class America and teach white kids how to be white? I mean thats messed up. What I really want is to ascend past this world of differences and have people see each other as souls, as people who deserve to be treated kindly and genuinely.

But, I'm new still, I'll always be white, and I'll never speak their language 100% fluently if at all. So if thats the case then I just have to keep trying to be a good person and maybe it will rub off.

1 comment:

Jessie said...

"But, I'm new still, I'll always be white, and I'll never speak their language 100% fluently if at all. So if thats the case then I just have to keep trying to be a good person and maybe it will rub off."

....you always said your students were your true teachers... maybe you were meant to learn from them as much as they were meant to learn from you. white or not... person to person... experience to experience... tell stories to one another then try on the others moccasins...

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