Because all great procrastinators spend time on Facebook rather than accomplishing their work, as I prepared to write this blog, I felt the need to visit the world of faces first. Conveniently, I found a particular African proverb that struck me:
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
How much truth can one line hold? For me, this line kind of epitomizes what we’ve discussed in this class throughout the year. Our goal is to help students break the cycle of poverty. Some students are born into a cycle of wealth while others want nothing more than to enter that world. It’s hard to fathom what poverty can do to some students, and even throughout the conversations we’ve had, it doesn’t become completely apparent. For these students, they are striving for an education - they are striving for a chance to escape the ignorance that may befall them.
The most sparking area that we discussed in our last meeting dealt with the benefits of the arts, AP courses, and physical activities. It seems that, in many schools that I have observed and many colleagues I have conversed with, there is a split between the arts and the athletics of a school. Each attempts to demonstrate great worth and value by providing for students, but in the end, a grudge match occurs between the sports and activities advisers. I don’t think it is intentional and I don’t think it is something that we want to engage in, but students pick up on an animosity between the two spectrum. We need to unite our groups and think about the best interest of the students. Both sports and arts lead to academic success. In the long run, isn’t that it’s all about – teaching these students?
The area that I wish we had some control over would be the AP courses, which we do not offer at RHS. Instead, we have opportunities for dual-credit, but those are paid for by the students. Poverty-stricken students do not have many options when it comes to early-entry status. One dual-credit course can cost upwards of $300. How do poverty students make this happen? Can they? As we discussed during the morning session, we can recognize the need for these students to achieve, but it becomes very difficult to know how much we can intervene.
Overall, I have found many of our conversations sparking. This is a topic that, until it is discussed and considered, is under the radar for many of us. I know that I didn’t really consider poverty stricken students when I began teaching; now, I have a much wider range of perceptions to some of the behavioral issues of Jr. High. It is very easy for a teacher to bark and holler and come down on students who do not act perfect. What I try to remind myself now – these students need, at their very core, just one person to treat them as a person and not as a child. That, we can accomplish every day.