Blog #5

A MOOK... I like the idea of reaching out beyond the classroom, but I am daunted by the amount of work this would entail. I have just been doing research on a fairly narrow aspect of writing race (aimed at teachers - how do writing teachers reach students with different ethnic backgrounds? is it important to share a cultural background with the majority of your students? how much should writing teachers focus on race/ethnicity?) and I really feel I would need a more thorough grounding on the theoretical and practical reality of race and writing. I am definitely still in the learning phase of this project, and I don't know if I am even finding any of the resources that everyone already knows about. I, at least, would feel extremely self-conscious pretending I was capable of creating a MOOK on this topic (or maybe any topic?)

Regarding my research for teachers, I have stumbled across some good resources. I have been re-reading a book called Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire and it has a lot of parallels to the movie Freedom Writers. While it is encouraging to find these positive examples of reaching at-risk students, (sometimes of the same ethnic group as the teacher and sometimes not), it is also discouraging to me because these examples show teachers who have sacrificed almost every other part of their lives to reach their students. Above all, the lesson is that it is not easy for anyone to reach at-risk students and teachers are often left to fight the powers-that-be (administrators, standardized test producers, big business, government bureaucrats)--the very forces that should be helping teachers help students. This fact is discussed in "This is Not a Test" when a math teacher in Washington Heights provides a narrative on how schools can serve the needs of all children. but how it is teachers working against the system to make it happen.

I am still reading an old, but interesting to me, article called "The (In) Visibility of the Persona(al) in Academe." This article discusses the need to provide relevant, multi-cultural resources to all students. But she also narrates her struggle with finding literature for a composition class after dealing with an episode of anti-Semitism in one of her classes. The author is Jewish and she said she had no trouble selecting reading assignments that reflected a wide range of cultures, but she struggled with finding literature to describe the Jewish experience. She said that she "became hypersensitive to references to Jews in literary works by writers who are not Jewish" and she further struggled with any negative depictions of Jews in literature. Later, she said that she learned to read literature as literature, instead of a representation of an entire race of people. Furthermore, she said that sometimes it takes someone with more distance from an experience to show it in another light. I thought it was a different take on multicultural discussions--the author was stressing that literature is a work of art and it requires an open-minded reader to see it from all different perspectives. Maybe this is just a rationalization for more inclusion and less exclusion?