ME:First Assignment

From: Annie McDevitt
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Date: 04 Oct 1996
Time: 01:18:10


This course relates to me because I'm very interested in kids. At this point I'm not sure that I necesarily feel called to teaching but I know that I want to work with kids in some capacity. In an ideal world I would like to find I job where I can just be a friend to kids. In my experience, being the "teacher" puts a barrier between kids and adults, which hinders learning. This class excites me because it sounds like we're going to be discussing some rather revolutionary ideas in education. As I mentioned in class, I spent a summer living and working with junior highschool kids in East Palo Alto. It was an amazing and eye-opening experience. Teaching just three kids made me wonder how in the world teachers teach classes of over 30 students. My respect for teachers grew ten-fold that summer. The kids I tutored were bright but often had so much going on outside of school that they were distracted from their studies. One of my students, a 6th grader, had a mother who was addicted to crack cocaine, a father in jail and an uncle who just died of HIV. Understandably, he was quite a discipline problem. While certainly he may have been a worse case scenario, most of the kids in EPA have a lot to deal with due to the environment surrounding them. Additionally, being children of color, they had to put up with racism. It was distressing to me to hear that people would follow them in stores to make sure they weren't stealing anything. I could see that incidents like these had taken a great toll on their selfworths. I know that I want to work with kids in an inner city setting. What kids need there is someone to be a consistent friend in their topsy-turvy lives. They need someone to care for them without judgment, someone to give them attention and approval. In this class, I hope to receive some direction in how to motivate kids who don't think they're intelligent or don't see the value in working hard because it never seems to get noticed anyway. I want to learn how to interact with kids in a way that's affirming to their culture. I want to learn how to earn their trust. This past summer, I got to experience being a foreigner. It was a humbling experience to be the minority as I spent 7 weeks working with churches in Yucatan, Mexico. My spanish is very minimal, which added to my confusion. Feelings of frustration and hopelessness, of not being understood or fitting in arose for me. I even experienced feelings of inferiority and uselessness. Things which I felt confident about in my own culture, I couldn't begin to do there. I caught myslef making assumptions about people and events which were often incorrect, simply because I didn't understand what was going on around me. I feel that these experiences will help me to contribute to this class. They have increased my desire to learn how to recognize and work through cultural differences in my relationships with people here in the States. These are the thoughts and experiences I 'm coming into this class with. I look forward to learning from everyone else's experiences.