Thursday, March 25, 2004
Teaching is all about the little ups and downs, I suppose. There are moments of excitement when I feel like my kids have really "gotten it" and then, sometimes, that illusion comes crashing down on my head like a ton of bricks.
Not very long ago, I was shocked and appalled to find that my kids neither knew what the Holocaust was, nor did they have any idea who the Jews are. Well, they also had no idea where Germany was, or what World War II was about. So I did about a month of lessons on WWII, Germany, the Holocaust, and Anne Frank. I was so proud at the end because the kids really seemed to, not only understand the details of that time, but have compassion, too.
Yesterday, I took my kids to the school book fair in the library. As they were rifling through the overpriced goodies, one student complained about the prices and tried to bargain. I told her, "This isn't a flea market, you can't bargain, here!" The librarian laughed and said, "Yes, children, there is no Jew room here!"
I've never even heard that expression, but it is clearly offensive. This was coming from a woman who had only moments before said something terribly offensive about Mexicans, so I wasn't shocked. But the student who had been trying to bargain stopped in her tracks when she heard this.
"That's mean to say!" she told the librarian indignantly. My heart swelled with righteous pride and I thought that everything that I had worked for was about to come to full bloom. "Don't you know that all the Jews died from Iraq?"
The librarian laughed at her and shook her head. I just stood there, stunned. I have no idea what she was talking about. She has it all wrong. I wonder if they all do. How frustrating is it to teach something and have them pass the tests and everything but know that they really have no idea what I was talking about?
But off I go to teach more things that will become warped in their little maleable heads. ¶ 3:17 AM