0075: Re: The US Third World, Its Children, and the Obligation of Educators
#teaching #poverty #literacy #revolution #occupy
I teach, like many of you, invisible children in an invisible neighborhood. They are, to many, the nameless, faceless children of the third world within these United States. They will grow up witnessing violence and drug use. They will be victims of violence. They will commit acts of violence. They will be victims of every sort of abuse imaginable. They will be unemployed and incarcerated. Many have been incarcerated many times already, some as young as ten years old. They are told that a good education is the way out of their situation, but they are served a steady, non-critical diet of tests and test preparations. They are passed from grade to grade without every fully becoming literate. They’re born into an unfair playing field that has a glass ceiling. Their schools are often filled with well-meaning, but overwhelmed teachers who fear for their jobs and are thereby tied to the test training program. The students who need critical thinking skills are taught to consume. They are taught to listen and not speak. They are taught that if they do speak no one will hear. They are taught that no one has time to listen because there is a test in the near future that is more important than their needs as human beings. The school system that has taken over the job of Parent neglects them emotionally and spiritually.
These offenses to humanity are evident to teachers and others who struggle within these environments. But to many, they are legends and ghosts. The learners in these schools are without voices to bear witness to the injustices they endure. Their voices are never developed by the people who are in the position to aid in their development. They are too busy following orders to nurture the curious minds at their feet.
The American Third World is silenced by the system that claims to give it a voice. Oppression is allowed by making oppression incomprehensible. Teachers must teach critically. They must turn their attention to helping learners come to an understanding of the systems economic, educational, political that perpetuate their oppression. It is our job as teachers to bear witness to the injustice before us, and give voices to the voiceless. It is not acceptable to simply “teach” according to plan. Teaching must be authentic and problem based. The curriculum provided is sufficient only to keep a segment of society starving and dependent.
Teaching is a revolutionary act. It transcends curriculum, test scores, and systems. Teachers bear witness. Readers do the same. Education is a tool for social mobility, but only when learning occurs— only when learning is critical.
Yours very truly,