Today I taught first and third periods. The kids were, for the most part, little darlings. Lukie observed and took notes. She said "You really had them in line today. They were excellent!"
My response? "I didn't do a damn thing differently from last Wednesday when they handed me my own ass on a platter. It's completely at their whim." Every morning the principal announces over the loudspeaker: "We're about to receive our little darlings. Remember--it's not their school, it's ours." What a laugh. We all know who's boss.
Their behavior was excellent but their classwork wasn't. We finished reading "The Diary of Anne Frank" and the students had to answer several questions. One question was: "Anne mentions that Jews are not the only people who have 'suffered.' List another race that has suffered." Lukie and I thought this was a softball question, one that would generate good discussion--um, no. I had to assist one-on-one nearly every student. "The answer isn't in the book, I don't know!" After helping a dozen African American students who--with leading questions--still couldn't think of an answer, I went from incredulous to downright angry. How could 25 underpriviliged African American students NOT think of an answer to this question?
I hoped the third period class would fare better--but again was disappointed. I spent three minutes asking one student leading questions, and finally said "Can you think of any group or race who has faced oppression because of their skin color?" Something clicked at last and he said "Oh yeah! Indians!" Not the obvious answer, but a good one.
Timothy has been in a foul mood for days, and has kept his head down on his desk for Language Arts class all week. Today he was apparently listening to my mounting frustration as I walked around the room trying to help kids answer this question, because he finally said "It's black people! Black people you dumb ass mu-fuckers! Jesus! Haven't you ever heard of slavery!?" Then he put his head back down on the desk as his classmates started scribbling, exclaiming "Oh yeah!" and "Of course!" and "Duh!"