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 Walk a mile in my shoes 
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Can we truly understand a person unless we have walked in their shoes? As we were watching the video Wednesday night and Ms. Vega (I believe her name was Jo) was expressing her feelings about her art, the response from the young man rang loudly in my ears. I flashed back to my own childhood and how my mother's life was so unlike my own. She never went to college and had to work in a sweat shop that we call a furniture plant for all of my childhood and most of my early adult life. I thought about how I had treated her and how I felt about her during those years. Did I really understand what she had to deal with? I could not possibly. I believe that I in some dark part of myself felt sad for her, until I took a walk in her shoes. I came home one summer from college and worked in that sweat shop and gained a quarter of an undestanding of what she had to deal with all of my life. I could not possibly gain a full insight but I could empathize with her because I got to see first had and feel first hand the pain and heat of it all.

How do we get to the heart of our minority students when we ourselves are not not minorities? How do you truly help a poor child when you live on the lake, drive an Expedition, or have 5 bedrooms in your house? Teachers must have opportunites to actually see what it is like to live in the world in which our parents and students live. I have been discriminated against as an adult within a classroom. I had a parent of the only white child that I received come into my third grade classroom and go straight to the assistant who was white and begin to discuss her child. The assistant had to send her to me. She naturally assumed that she was the teacher and I had to be the assistant. Why is that?

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Alisa Ferguson
MSA, ASU, summer 2007


Sat Feb 03, 2007 12:51 pm
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Location: Kernersville Middle School
We can only know anything by the experiences and opportunities we have. I cannot understand anything of which I have no notion. I was broad-sided with my thoughts on who held what position while working in a doctors' office.

A woman called asking to speak to a doctor in the office. I gave the customary response, "He's with a patient now and cannot take calls unless it is an emergency. If you would like, I can take a message and he'll call you back after rounds." She was quick to reply that she was the doctor he had called and she expected to be put through immediately. (My error: Only males are doctors. I was 34 yrs at the time. I now openly confess that girls can become doctors!)

As I write, I wonder what would have happened if we both had taken time to identify ourselves to one another first and then to make the request known. Perhaps we just overlook too much at times in our harried lives.)

Suskind (Hope, 177) tells of Cedric's experience with a diverse group brought together to begin to build a group mindset. Suskind says it well:
Code:
[code][quote]"...your identiy should come from soemthing you take pride in.  It shouldn't be something that just sets you apart form other people, it should be one of those things that, you know, people generally understand is a good thing, soemthing we all share, rather than what separates us.[/quote][/code]
.

I made a grand mistake working with middle schoolers. I used a college exercise (Vargas' Hispanic test) to "celebrate" what we had as a class. The students were kind and I felt like all went well, but there was an undercurrent I still feel today from a few. AFter discussing the event with a mentor-type, consultant professor, I have learned that middle schoolers do not like to have their differences pointed out to them--especially by others of different groups. What they want most earnestly is to know what we all share, how we fit together as a whole.

This has changed how I see and work with others--just look for what we share. Look for ways to reach out as a whole to do great things.

It is an interesting life.


Sat Feb 03, 2007 5:53 pm
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That's a great question Alisa. How do we truly understand our students if we don't know what its like to be them and walk in their shoes? There is no way for us to truly experience everything that our students live through and just a day in the life is not enough as you explained with mother. I think it is possible for us to experience more if we want to, b/c sitting and watching a video on diversity is not enough. I think doing cultural plunges like we did in Vargas' class is an excellent way to expand our knowledge. I need to seek out more opportunities like these, b/c they are there if I try harder.


Sun Feb 18, 2007 6:45 pm
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I agree that it is hard for us to know what the stories of others are if we are not willing to engage in this sort of dialogue. I am always interested in learning about different cultures..... I wish that every future teacher would be required to take a course like Dr. Vargas's course on Multi-cultural education. Why can't we have a course in high school about learning about different cultures. We have a course in world history, but I don't think that the teachers get to discuss the "real world" issues confronting us today. Wouldn't our world be a better place. I think it would benefit all who are willing to learn more about each other.

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Chris McKay

"Our progress as a nation can be no swifter
than our progress in education." -JFK


Sun Mar 25, 2007 11:07 pm
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In response to Chris's question as to why we can't have a course in high school on cultures...
1. It is not tested
2. Most students are not interested or mature enough to truly "get it"

I think it is a great idea to teach these things in high school and earlier, which can be worked into some curriculums...

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Leigh Anne Frye


Tue Mar 27, 2007 3:33 pm
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