Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To Be Invited To Teach

Yesterday, we went to our homeschool class at the zoo. I recognise so few of the children at this particular homeschool class. Where are they all from? Considering how many conservative, Christian homeschool groups there are in and around this area, I hesitate to assume.

(I’m going to stick my neck out.) But comparing the scientific knowledge between kids at the zoo class with kids at the evolution museum classes, my guess about where they are all from is probably pretty right on.

Anyway....I’m usually one of the only mothers still sitting in on the homeschool classes that we attend. Most of the others have successfully separated. But, we’ve had several years of big transitions. So, if Winston is behind the separation curve, I don’t really mind.

I don’t like to waste my time. When I’m sitting in, I pitch in where I can. I compliment the children on their work. I do my best to be a supportive presence in the classroom. I listen and respond to the children. In some ways, the children have accepted me as part of their educational resource.

Yesterday was cold. So we all bundled up to trek through the zoo to meet Reptile Ray. We arrived a bit early so the kids were milling around. I didn’t bother to take my coat off. As the children were unencombering themselves, a little blonde girl looked up me. Her eyes went wide - almost fearful. She actually took a step back.

I cocked my head to one side and smiled.

“You....y...y..you supported Obama?” She asked incredulously.

“I sure did.” I said in a soft, gentle, smiling voice.

She took a step back. “We are for McCain,” she said nervously. (I knew what was racing through her brain - palling around with terrorists; killing babies; stealing people's hard earned money through taxation; killing babies; the fall of the government to socialists; killing babies; enslavement of the White race and killing babies.)

I smile. The teacher steps in closer. I feel the tension emanating from her body. The home schooling demographic has changed so drastically in recent years. These encounters between liberal and conservative homeschoolers could turn ugly.

I step closer to the little girl. I paste a huge, loving smile on my face. I softly say, “Well, that’s awesome! “

“It is?” she replies. Her eyebrows knit together. A timid frown quivers.

“It sure is!” I say. “You’ve made America a beautiful and strong place.” She looks even more confused. “If nobody could have different ideas, then nothing good could ever happen. We’d stay the same way forever and ever. We’d never grow. We’d never change. Nobody would think of new medicines or create the internet or anything.” I stop smiling. “That would be awful and boring.”

She just stands there looking mildly confused.

“Our forefathers made this country because they wanted everyone to have lots of different ideas. It is what has made us a great country.”

The teacher jumps in, “That’s right. We’re all free to think whatever we think. And we’re all free to talk about it. If nobody disagreed, then, nobody would ever learn anything new.”

I smiled. “And that is democracy,” I said. Everybody says what they think. And then we vote about which person has the best idea.”

Little girl looks confused and unsettled.

“So, you’re awesome for believing in someone you thought had the best ideas. You keep doing that.”

Then she ran off to play. And I was honoured to be invited to teach. I hope she gained a new way of viewing the world. If not, maybe a seed was planted for a later understanding.


Eddie G. Griffin said...

Very well written and very well done in teaching a lesson. I wonder how many of us will have to un-teach what we have previously taught. NOTE ALSO: A little 6-year old girl was asked why she voted for John McCain is an elementary school mocked election, one of many throughout the state of Texas. Her answer: Because John McCain was a Christian. Who told her that: Her teacher. Then when asked about Obama's religion: She didn't know. QUESTION: What are they teaching our kids in school.

Christina Springer said...

Thanks, Eddie!

ANSWER: Not enough, not nearly enough. That is why so many of us don't put our children there.

Yobachi said...

How old is this kid? And why did she assume you were supporting Obama (where you the only Black person there?0? And how did the whole topic even come up?

I'm midly confused as to why some child started a political death match just upon laying eyes on you.

Who know's what kind of indocrtination she's getting at home if that was what was on her mind from merely gazing at you.

Christina Springer said...

Good questions Yobachi. And thanks for helping me remember what I used to teach my writing students - "detail, detail, detaill!" LOL!

The child was six years old. My coat is covered with Obama buttons. She looked at my coat. That's how the whole discussion came up. It was weird. She was actually afraid.

PurpleZoe said...

You extended beautiful light to dispel any heavy political/religious prejudice the child has been fed. Whether the seed blooms now or not, the truth of your warm embracing behavior and outlook will stay with her as a true example.

Definitely one to grow on.


Anonymous said...

What an amazing exchange and definitely what I consider a teachable moment that hopefully will continue to resonate with this child.

Anonymous said...

What a self serving heap of crap. Oh I am the goody the little girls folks are the baddies. I am so worthy and good. Why ain't your kid in School with a better ethnic mix. Cos you wan't it all.
You wan't to play Miss Afro roots cool poet Liberal but you want your kid to grow up middle class like you. That crap about staying behind to be useful is garbage you stay behind because you want to be important. Your so white