Charlie was never a
stellar student, so I'm not kidding myself even as I get angry. I know he
didn't always do his work, and I know that he would smile and nod in
acquiescence and then walk about and do nothing.
To his teachers he
was lazy, not motivated, and "if only…"
His early teen years
weren't good ones -- school hadn't been a strong suit, and he was having
toomuch fun with kids who were at the
edge of school. Then came the night his mom rushed his dad to the hospital. A
few days later after the swelling of his dad's brain had returned closer to
normal, his dad underwent the knife. For most of that weekCharlie's days were spent in the hospital,
waiting for the diagnosis.
Life expectancy --
not known but not good.
And when he returned
to school, his science teacher said no to turning his work in late.
You've got to be
more responsible, she told him.
Lazy is what she
He needs to learn a
lesson about responsibility, she believed.
And then there's
Her mom was
Japanese-American, her dad Mexican-American. Through her first few years of
school, she carried her dad's last name. After her parent's divorce, she
carried her mom's last name. While Mexican-American, her teachersshook their heads in dismay at her struggles with math,
but when she became Japanese-American, her teacher insisted that she visit him
after school for tutoring.
Your people are good
at math, and we must catch you up, he told her.
Asians are great at
math but those from the southern hemisphere aren't, he believed.
teachers hold serve as roadmaps, as beacons of light, guiding a teacher's
interpretation of events and subsequentactions . Those beliefs determine the words that come out of our
mouths and the instructional moves that we make. And the potential collateral
damage: the Charlies of the world and the Latino Maries.
We owe it to our
kids -all of our kids --to take stock
of our beliefs, to reflect on what is driving us and to ask ourselves: what if
it were otherwise? What if…?