Diary of a First-Year Teacher: The Tr...

Diary of a First-Year Teacher: The Trouble With Being White

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Oliver Canterberry

Chillicothe, OH

#1 Mar 13, 2013
Each week in the series Diary of a First-Year Teacher, an anonymous first-grade teacher will share her confessions, musings, struggles, and successes during the first year of her teaching career in rural Mississippi.

I teach children who are of a different culture and race than I am. I'm a white northern 22-year-old teaching a class of African American southern students.

Not only do I look different than my little scholars, but I am often naive, and I fear insensitive, to the areas in which our cultural values and norms differ. I fear our small differences are creating an even greater barrier between us.

There are the obvious moments such as failing to understand their southern accents and Delta vernacular when they ask questions. And there are superficial examples like when one of my girls asks me to fix her braid or hair bow and I have to look to my black colleagues because I am entirely ignorant on how to fix my student's hair.

I can only imagine their parents shaking their heads when their daughters comes home with a boring ponytail when she was sent out of the house with a beautiful variety of braids and bows. Although they seem minor, these moments have a tendency to build on each other. Without being kept in check, they can separate my students and I even further.

So what can I do to overcome these differences?

Time and experience is a great educator. But even in time, there will always be an overwhelming difference between my students and I. Right now, I know I can help bridge the differences between us by concentrating on our relationships.

I seek to learn more about my students and their community. Being interested and asking questions is worth so much. From there, I seek common ground—the place where relationships are formed. Sometimes, it can be as simple as "Tyrone do you like superhero movies?" "Yes!" "Cool, me too."

I do my best to educate them in a way that is relevant to their cultural and home life. For example, I try to teach standard English grammar and language in a way that adds on to my students' cultural vernacular, without condoning the way they've learned to speak at home.

I seek to be mindful of whose perspective my social studies lessons reflect, and do additional research when necessary to teach my students the basics of social studies from an accurate and diverse perspectives. Finally, I allow conversations of race to come up. I am honest and open with my students in order to find an understanding, and maybe even some reconciliation.

“Meh.”

Since: Aug 10

Location hidden

#2 Mar 13, 2013
Oliver Canterberry wrote:
There are the obvious moments such as failing to understand their southern accents and Delta vernacular when they ask questions.
Wow. This person better be young enough to excuse being a bit thick.

Not being able to understand Southern accents or AAVE seems absurdist. Does it ever say where they grew up or went to school? I'm having a really difficult time working out how someone could possibly be that sheltered. Or that adjusting to new L1 speech patterns would take long at all.

Hugh Victor Thompson III

“Larchmont's Leading Citizen”

Since: Dec 12

Hilliard, OH

#3 Mar 13, 2013
tranpsosition wrote:
<quoted text>
Wow. This person better be young enough to excuse being a bit thick.
Not being able to understand Southern accents or AAVE seems absurdist. Does it ever say where they grew up or went to school? I'm having a really difficult time working out how someone could possibly be that sheltered. Or that adjusting to new L1 speech patterns would take long at all.
Let's drop you in rural Newfoundland and see how you do.
Oliver Canterberry

Chillicothe, OH

#4 Mar 13, 2013
tranpsosition wrote:
<quoted text>
Wow. This person better be young enough to excuse being a bit thick.
Not being able to understand Southern accents or AAVE seems absurdist. Does it ever say where they grew up or went to school? I'm having a really difficult time working out how someone could possibly be that sheltered. Or that adjusting to new L1 speech patterns would take long at all.
You missed the point. The White female teacher assumes guilt for the dysfunctional culture of the Black students, which is absurd. This is the mentality of the typical liberal and it is tearing down our culture, values and morals and needs to be stopped.

“Don't trust the internet!”

Since: Jan 12

Location hidden

#5 Mar 13, 2013
Oliver Canterberry wrote:
<quoted text>
You missed the point. The White female teacher assumes guilt for the dysfunctional culture of the Black students, which is absurd. This is the mentality of the typical liberal and it is tearing down our culture, values and morals and needs to be stopped.
Difference in dialect is hardly a dysfunction, Oliver.
Oliver Canterberry

Chillicothe, OH

#6 Mar 13, 2013
FKA Reader wrote:
<quoted text>
Difference in dialect is hardly a dysfunction, Oliver.
The dysfunction is in the breakdown of the nuclear family which liberals like you bear the brunt of responsibility for the extremely misguided antics of the 1960's and 1970's, removing prayer in schools, affirmative action and quotas, busing, massive public housing projects that have bankrupted the country fiscally and the inner-city type of Black family morally where the unmarried "baby momma" is the head of the household.

This poor young woman has fallen into the same psychological disorder as you: White Guilt.

Hugh Victor Thompson III

“Larchmont's Leading Citizen”

Since: Dec 12

Hilliard, OH

#7 Mar 13, 2013
FKA Reader wrote:
<quoted text>
Difference in dialect is hardly a dysfunction, Oliver.
And you wonder why so many of your pets fail in the real world...

Since: Oct 10

Location hidden

#8 Mar 13, 2013
Hugh Victor Thompson III wrote:
<quoted text>Let's drop you in rural Newfoundland and see how you do.
Frankly, as much as I deal with my British counterparts, I have a devil of a time when I run into someone with the Cockney accent of London.

And my niece, raised in southern Georgia, sometimes stumps me. When my sister was alive, she did not let her children adopt the accent saying "diddy' and "skool" instead of 'Daddy' and 'school.' Oddly, her brother has no accent, nor does my brother-in-law, raised in Tennessee, went to school in VA and lived in Georgia the last 30 years.

My sister, a 'yankee', was living in Southern Georgia when a elementary school teacher had an 'after school' special class for a little black boy who was deaf. When the class was over, no one was there to pick up the boy. The teacher left him sitting alone on the school steps. There had been an accident or illness in his family and no one arrived to collect him until after midnight. Georgia residents thought nothing of it.

My sister like to took the town apart! Her husband and his partners were well known in town, and she had made some influential friends who just loved her. She put the mayor, city council, school board, several churches AND the country club on notice. I was and am very proud of her.

Since: Oct 10

Location hidden

#9 Mar 13, 2013
She would have done the same thing if the child was white.

“Meh.”

Since: Aug 10

Location hidden

#10 Mar 13, 2013
Seriouslady wrote:
<quoted text>
Frankly, as much as I deal with my British counterparts, I have a devil of a time when I run into someone with the Cockney accent of London.
I'm incredibly confused that but incredibly surprised by the idea that this would happen.

With all the talk of cockney as a quickly vanishing, endangered working class dialect, I'm glad to hear that they've not actually been disappearing but have instead been shifting into international business.

I'm guessing that you've just chosen the only UK dialect you've heard of? Really, it's a good, hard run to find cockney speakers today, even under the eaves of the bells. You're more likely to find a Geordie or Brummie to pretend to get on the phone. If you ever want to pretend to have spoken to one of them, Geordies will call you "pet" on the phone while proper Brummies say "bab".

“Don't trust the internet!”

Since: Jan 12

Location hidden

#11 Mar 13, 2013
Oliver Canterberry wrote:
<quoted text>
The dysfunction is in the breakdown of the nuclear family which liberals like you bear the brunt of responsibility for the extremely misguided antics of the 1960's and 1970's, removing prayer in schools, affirmative action and quotas, busing, massive public housing projects that have bankrupted the country fiscally and the inner-city type of Black family morally where the unmarried "baby momma" is the head of the household.
This poor young woman has fallen into the same psychological disorder as you: White Guilt.
Reading a whole lot in there, Oliver.

“Don't trust the internet!”

Since: Jan 12

Location hidden

#12 Mar 13, 2013
Hugh Victor Thompson III wrote:
<quoted text>And you wonder why so many of your pets fail in the real world...
LOL, that YOUR world is the only REAL world.

“Don't trust the internet!”

Since: Jan 12

Location hidden

#13 Mar 13, 2013
Seriouslady wrote:
<quoted text>
Frankly, as much as I deal with my British counterparts, I have a devil of a time when I run into someone with the Cockney accent of London.
And my niece, raised in southern Georgia, sometimes stumps me. When my sister was alive, she did not let her children adopt the accent saying "diddy' and "skool" instead of 'Daddy' and 'school.' Oddly, her brother has no accent, nor does my brother-in-law, raised in Tennessee, went to school in VA and lived in Georgia the last 30 years.
My sister, a 'yankee', was living in Southern Georgia when a elementary school teacher had an 'after school' special class for a little black boy who was deaf. When the class was over, no one was there to pick up the boy. The teacher left him sitting alone on the school steps. There had been an accident or illness in his family and no one arrived to collect him until after midnight. Georgia residents thought nothing of it.
My sister like to took the town apart! Her husband and his partners were well known in town, and she had made some influential friends who just loved her. She put the mayor, city council, school board, several churches AND the country club on notice. I was and am very proud of her.
There is no such thing as "no accent." There are multiple regional dialects--some of which are considered more acceptable than others--such as the invented TV broadcaster English.

Your own phrase "my sister like to took the town apart" is a nice example of a regionalism. Prescriptivists would even say that it is not "proper" English.

But hardly any indication of family or social dysfunction.

Since: Jan 12

Columbus, OH

#14 Mar 13, 2013
Oliver Canterberry wrote:
<quoted text>
The dysfunction is in the breakdown of the nuclear family which liberals like you bear the brunt of responsibility for the extremely misguided antics of the 1960's and 1970's, removing prayer in schools, affirmative action and quotas, busing, massive public housing projects that have bankrupted the country fiscally and the inner-city type of Black family morally where the unmarried "baby momma" is the head of the household.
This poor young woman has fallen into the same psychological disorder as you: White Guilt.
She didn't say she felt 'guilty', you stupid freak. She's perplexed at the wide gap in their cultural and social economic differences. Hell, I'm Black but have a hard time understanding some of the southern rural dialects from the Blacks as well as the deep rural whites.
Even the deep Boston dialects from Ireland can throw one for a loop.

“Don't trust the internet!”

Since: Jan 12

Location hidden

#15 Mar 13, 2013
tranpsosition wrote:
<quoted text>
I'm incredibly confused that but incredibly surprised by the idea that this would happen.
With all the talk of cockney as a quickly vanishing, endangered working class dialect, I'm glad to hear that they've not actually been disappearing but have instead been shifting into international business.
I'm guessing that you've just chosen the only UK dialect you've heard of? Really, it's a good, hard run to find cockney speakers today, even under the eaves of the bells. You're more likely to find a Geordie or Brummie to pretend to get on the phone. If you ever want to pretend to have spoken to one of them, Geordies will call you "pet" on the phone while proper Brummies say "bab".
Ah, yes, I did actually once meet a Britisher who explained to me and some other tourists (with difficulty, as our ears were not well attuned) that he was a Cockney--as he was born in the sound of the St. Paul's bells.

Hugh Victor Thompson III

“Larchmont's Leading Citizen”

Since: Dec 12

Hilliard, OH

#16 Mar 13, 2013
FKA Reader wrote:
<quoted text>
LOL, that YOUR world is the only REAL world.
The one that produces the makers as opposed to yours which gifts us with parasites.

“Meh.”

Since: Aug 10

Location hidden

#17 Mar 13, 2013
FKA Reader wrote:
<quoted text>
Ah, yes, I did actually once meet a Britisher who explained to me and some other tourists (with difficulty, as our ears were not well attuned) that he was a Cockney--as he was born in the sound of the St. Paul's bells.
You're about as likely to run into cockneys are you are speakers of Edoben in Tokyo. There are a few out there, they tend to be old duffers and tend to be really class limited.

I've actually never thought about it before, but Edoben and cockney have a load of similarities, in addition to being phased out increasingly rapidly.

“Don't trust the internet!”

Since: Jan 12

Location hidden

#18 Mar 13, 2013
tranpsosition wrote:
<quoted text>
You're about as likely to run into cockneys are you are speakers of Edoben in Tokyo. There are a few out there, they tend to be old duffers and tend to be really class limited.
I've actually never thought about it before, but Edoben and cockney have a load of similarities, in addition to being phased out increasingly rapidly.
Yep, I would say he fit the bill. I cannot remember exactly what he was selling on the street, but old duffer and class-limited would have been a fit.

It was interesting for a geography to be defined as "in the sound of St. Paul's bells." He also remembered having spent nights atop St. Paul's during WWII to put out fires should it take a hit. That is a kind of history that is not in our collective memory as Americans and I remember wondering (this was pre-9/11) if this figured into our willingness to go for military solutions so willingly.

Since: Oct 10

Location hidden

#19 Mar 13, 2013
FKA Reader wrote:
<quoted text>
There is no such thing as "no accent." There are multiple regional dialects--some of which are considered more acceptable than others--such as the invented TV broadcaster English.
Your own phrase "my sister like to took the town apart" is a nice example of a regionalism. Prescriptivists would even say that it is not "proper" English.
But hardly any indication of family or social dysfunction.
Fine example of why you are always judged 'clueless''nuts''disagree' and 'mean', Twister. You pulled what you wanted from that and converted it for your use. Didn't work for you this time either.

Sorry, thought that since I was speaking of Tennessee and Georgia any moron would know I was speaking of a 'southern' accent.

As for 'take the town apart', I don't think that has any regional distinction. And it was my phrasing as a 'yankee.'

Believe me, if someone leaves a child that cannot hear or can hear to sit alone in the dark for six hours, having no idea why they have been 'forgotten' in this area, and I hear about it, I'm going to 'take the town apart' too.

You wouldn't make an issue of it?

“Hi-Yo Silver! Away!”

Since: Aug 12

Location hidden

#20 Mar 13, 2013
Oliver Canterberry wrote:
"Without being kept in check, they can separate my students and I even further."

"But even in time, there will always be an overwhelming difference between my students and I."
For someone who teaches standard English and grammar, she violated one rule twice, see above. Those sentences should contain "students and me" not "students and I". In both case she is, along with her students, the object of the sentence, so "me" is called for, not "I", which is used when she is the subject of a sentence. Many people make this mistake; for some reason a compound object throws them off. Remove the other object from the sentence and repeat the sentence out loud; it becomes immediately apparent how wrong and grating to the ear the use of "I" is.

I may not have been grammatically perfect in this explanation, the point is those two sentences of hers were not constructed correctly.

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