“Throughout our lives we try a number of things for any number of reasons. We try this to fit in. We try that to please our parents. We try this because we are afraid. We try that because we are angry. We try this because we are lonely. We try that because we want to be left alone. Almost everything we try costs more than it is worth because we think that it is something that is not. Everything we pick up is empty.”
Day 50, “Effortless,” Rolf Gates, Meditations on Intention and Being
Day 351 – Yesterday we began the book Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry with my intensive reading students. We discussed racism, about prejudices…I probed into what they knew about the Civil Rights Movement, and basically about the way they view the world. One student complained: “I don’t see what the point is…you say we are the next generation, but why should we bother to change anyone’s mind if they grow up thinking racism. How can I change their minds?” Basically, she was asking what is the point of learning this and worrying about the future, which was an easy choice for most students to take, especially my nonreaders who are in the majority in class and race at my school. They are always the loudest.
Today’s reading is all about understanding who we are to place us beyond the concepts of desire and sorrow. Once we know who we are, Rolf explains that “we can see all beings as equal.” My classroom hearkens to Rolf’s words: “With one foot in delusion and the other in grace, we experience conflict, sadness, and the constraints of time.” Yes, yes, and yes. I think its healthy to experience conflict. Although I don’t know this particular student that well, her curiosity in the KKK was disconcerting and, perhaps, telling, when coupled with her disregard for the book we were starting. It is not unusual for a student to be unaware of the other students, but it gets really dicey when introducing painful and (sometimes) unresolved pieces of our American past into a middle school classroom, especially one filled with students who have a lot of misunderstandings.
All I can do is stay the course.