You and I may use the same language and media for communicating and yet still not understand one another. This concept was driven home last year when I reconnected with a gentleman I graduated from law school with twenty years earlier. Why I contacted him is not as important as my letting you know that both of us agreed that he and I were never “supposed” to have attended law school.
When students enter the fifth grade, they have certainly figured a few things out on their own, and notwithstanding the information they previously received know something is awry. Some will “adjust” and perform with the excellence adults wish for them. Most will make their education passage in modest silence and eventually exit the hallowed doors to enter the dreaded Real World. A few will rebelliously act out.
We should beware the acculturation processes we are involved in for culture involves behaviors and ideas that are learned, shared, patterned, adaptive and symbolic within a society of human beings and involves social class, the hierarchical arrangement of social groups which is typically based on wealth, occupation or other economic criteria. All identifiable cultural groups have views supported by interlocking and mutually supporting beliefs, forming an ideology difficult to assail and which has the potential to act as a “social control” which receives support due to people’s tendency to see the status quo as “the way things should be”.
I think all of us here at the Coöp are similar and dissimilar at the same time. We likely perceive something is out of phase, yet are firmly individualistic as to the “who, when, where, why and how” we perceive that something. I may see something large and amorphous while you see something tangible and discrete – or perhaps it is the other way around.
Each one of us became, and most “students” will become, familiar with two American “social truths” during early school years:
All men are created equal.
Individualism determines whether one will rise or fall.
If you cannot detect the contradiction between these “truths”, if you find yourself attempting to harmonize those statements, please take a deep breath and answer the following questions:
Do you live in a colony? Who are your neighbors, and what are they like? Are there “other” people who live elsewhere?
Where do your students live? Who are their neighbors and what are they like?
Did you “make the grade” and obtain various certificates and diplomas to demonstrate your value that entitled you to “get the job”? Which of your students will “make the grade” and obtain similar evidence of their value that will entitle them to “get the job”?
Why does academic performance, as measured by standardized tests, reflect “performance gaps” along class, color, sex and other lines? Were your students launched from different culture and class bases, to be acculturated in different ways such that they have significantly different trajectories?
For some, education is a door that opens to a life of wealth and ease. For others, education represents a barrier.
Same language. Same word.
Different backgrounds. Different meanings and different values.
“Teachers” are not at fault here.