What is it about Will Okun's column that gets white folks so riled up?
I have an idea of what it is. See. He is a white man working with
HE ALSO CLEARLY CARES ABOUT THE STUDENTS
and sees through other peoples sh*t talking about them.
And he speaks, honestly, about what it means to HAVE
Whenever we read a book by a black author about black culture or the “black experience,” I feel disingenuous leading a class discussion about issues tied so directly to the lives of the students. What do I know of racism? What do I know of systematic poverty? What do I know of hunger? What do I know of a (perceived) limited future? What do I know of struggle? What do I know of gangs and random violence? What do I know of fear?
These are just ideas to me, facts and stories that I have studied in a book or observed from the safety of my own privileged distance. What can I tell them about their own lives? Can I or should I teach what I have never experienced?
I wonder if my students feel like I do when I am at a mandatory teacher training facilitated by a person who is not a teacher. Teachers stare angrily at one another as yet another educational expert pontificates endlessly about how we can better educate our children. How dare these academics or bureaucrats advise us when they themselves are not fighting and struggling in the classrooms on a daily basis?
As anyone who ever attended graduate school knows, the theory and the practice of teaching are worlds apart.
AND DO HIS JOB and do it WITH PASSION. Very FEW PEOPLE,
Black or White have the courage or passion to do what he DOES
let alone write about it.
Okun's latest piece on weather Black or White teachers are better
equipped to teach Black students. Some of the students felt that
white teachers had it on lock, while,
"...the other half of the class disagreed vehemently and argued that a teacher’s race plays a crucial role in the classroom. These students wrote about the importance of a “shared experience.” Mildred explained, “Black teachers know better where black students are coming from and so know how to better teach and explain lessons and ideas.” Darrel wrote, “Black teachers want more from us.” Anthony agreed, “Black teachers are harder on you. White teachers give up on you quicker.” Albert opined that “black students feel like they are being judged by white teachers,” and so “we will not ask or answer as many questions in a white class.” Ciarra concluded, “Black teachers just know how to relate better; they make the class more important to what is going-on in your life.”Man. This dude says things that so many of us feel but our, ahem,
platform is a little bit different.
Most of my readers, I understand, have some higher ed, OR
are in the process of pursuing it. Presuming that some of you
are Black and many of you are not I would like to know what
you think about the distinction between learning from someone
who "looks like you", and someone who doesn't.
For Black children, especially, Urban Black children, do you think
it matters whether they learn from White teachers or Black
teachers? And because statistic show that most teachers in
"urban schools" are white women what can we do to support
them in teaching our children?
Peace to Yeye and his momma.
Real talk. I wonder what effect this will have have on his desire to
get married and/or procreate.