Monday, September 22, 2014

Slicing Can Be Loud!

             Time for the Tuesday Slice of Life Sharing at the Two Writing Teachers blog. Thanks to the wonderful group of bloggers who host us, and those who share what's going on in their own personal or professional lives.

            It's Banned Book Week, although I hope everyone really celebrates that we are free to read whatever we wish anytime we wish. I just finished Revolution by Deborah Wiles, a time when more than books were taken away from many in our country. And in the past month, we watched as terrible things occurred in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, years after the Civil Rights era. Also, the news today is that even more refugees from Syria are pouring in to Turkey, their villages burned by this group named ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It is also the Egyptian Goddess of Fertility. How do I know, because a student of mine spent a year studying the gods created by other cultures, and while I couldn't quite remember all of it, I did remember ISIS was a god from some country. I'm glad it has another meaning. 


             In addition to these bits of information, I also just read Meg Medina's Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass, undoubtably a book that will be challenged, if not banned in some schools. It's about bullies, and speaking out. And I read Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and illustrated by Floyd Cooper about the terrible times of travel for African-Americans after World War II. Jim Crow laws had been passed that were supported by the state governments, which meant that many businesses could still choose to serve only white people. The Green Book was filled with those who did welcome African-Americans. 
              Collect it all together, and we have a people who are afraid, afraid of what will happen if they speak out. In the Yaqui Delgado book, the main character Piddy (short for Piedad) said over and over, to the few students who knew about the bullying, don't tell, don't tell, and begged her most trusted confidante not to tell her mother. A good student, she chose to lie, cut school and cheat instead of telling. 
              I am puzzled and wish there was a perfect--and peaceful--solution. What makes the person, young or old, step up, and others to hide? The word answer is fear, but some who fear still take action. And I thought about my slicing post today, and wanted to ask what do you do to teach others, whether students or those in your community to speak up when they see a wrong, or when they are wronged? 
              I also want to share that while writing, a little voice kept saying, are you sure you want to write this? What if it sounds too preachy? What if some do turn away and don't want to confront, and I offend? I am outspoken in the face of inequities, but there are times when I wonder if it seems as if I'm telling people how to act, what to believe. Is that okay?
              Happy to hear your responses!


18 comments:

  1. Linda,
    Yes, you, we need to speak up, just like we ask our students to do when the wrong thing is happening on the playground. The trouble is, speaking up isn't comfortable or safe. It is scary. We are afraid someone will say that we don't belong. That we will be alone. What is it that makes us speak out? A higher power? With the risk of sounding preachy, perhaps we do have to kind of get out of ourselves to see the bigger picture. I'm looking forward to the thoughts this post receives! Thank you for being brave and putting this out for discussion.

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  2. I definitely hear what my husband calls a "teacher" voice in this, but that's good. I am often flabbergasted by people's lack of appreciation of how hard others fight for freedoms--and I don't just mean my 5th graders. Books are paramount in communicating the many oppressions and horrors in the world, sometimes subtly and other times not. War has been written and rewritten so many times. Peach on, my friend. Great SOL!

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  3. I'm not a teacher, but I have three small children. I teach them to "keep their brain on" and always be thinking and wondering, questioning whether this person made the right choice. It gets tricky, of course, when that person is a grown up, not just a peer. Through books, we explore this subject and with my oldest we've begun to role play conversations with a girl who is at least bully-ish with her in class. I wish there was an easy answer, but there just isn't--I want to teach her that confrontation is part of life, and to strengthen her assertive muscles as she matures...

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  4. It's funny because until you said it, it never occurred to me that this post was sounding preachy! Maybe because I look to you for so many book recommendations. I agree with Julieanne, I applaud your bravery for taking on this subject. Standing up even though we are afraid is the definition of bravery!! I hope by your example, and hopefully mine, others will stand up and stop the bullying, bad choices, etc. What can be harder is sometimes the bullies are the adults. That makes me feel helpless sometimes. Being strong and standing together and reading the books like Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass is a start. We can certainly do more together than we can alone!

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  5. Yes, we need to keep speaking up. Not enough people do in our country. It was so cool to watch the marchers on Sunday in NYC. No, I wasn't one, but I was there in my heart. Look what's happening when teachers and parents and kids speak up to end the insanity of THE TEST!
    I love the power of your voice. You don't bash us over the head, but you do write with power. Kids must LOVE you!!!!

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  6. Like Michelle said, "Standing up even though we are afraid is the definition of bravery!! "
    On a related note, I feel like a lot of my 2012-2013 posts were kind of preachy (on RALH). I've tried to back away from that. It's a fine line though...

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  7. We all need to speak out. Things would remain the same and change would not happen if we didn't. Sometimes it is hard, but as others have said, bravery is standing up for what you believe in even if we are afraid of what others may think or say.

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  8. I think we all need to speak up when we see injustice - often the only voices are the ones who need to be quiet, to think before they speak. It's a frustrating time we live in - everyone has a camera and no one sees.
    PS. Just began Revolution - what a wonderful book!

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  9. I didn't hear a preachy tone, either. I heard conviction, which is admirable. Anytime my students talk to me about injustice, I encourage them to stand up for themselves. Honesty is always my policy, and I think kids are respected when they are honest.

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  10. Linda, Yaqui Delgado was recommended to me last year by our teen librarian. I'm putting it on my list. I also want to read Revolution, but first I need to read Countdown. I agree that it's so important for us to speak up when we see injustice. Teaching students (and ourselves) that it isn't always easy or comfortable is a first step. In the book The Liberation of Gabriel King, Gabriel finally realizes that courage is not the absence of fear, but moving ahead in the face of fear.

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  11. I echo all who say that the tone didn't seem preachy. I love how you trace the revolutionary ideas from civil rights to Syria and back home to classrooms. In my own classroom, I have a frank discussion with students at the year's start about bullying or harassment an what sorts of comments can seem hurtful or helpful. Speaking up or difussing situations in high school can be a bit tricky. Today I was in a new teacher's class and knew she was having difficulty with three raucous students, so I offered to take them back to my room and to work on the writing with them. Once they realized I wasn't "writing them up" or "sending them to the dean" we could settle into reading the text and outlining our argument. It's tricky though.

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  12. I am glad you wrote about the important topic. It is critical that we acknowledge differing viewpoints and perspectives as part of our American heritage as well as part of our "honest and real" culture in schools.

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  13. Thank you everyone for your honest sharing, and the different ways that you approach the challenges, especially with students. It seems that it's complicated, because all of us are complicated, human beings after all. I wonder if we can become clear about the boundaries we're willing to keep strong, and to speak up about those, at the same time respecting others too. It's complicated!

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  14. I think it's great that you are questioning yourself -- I think it's dangerous when we don't do that, when we are so sure that we are right that we stop listening.
    Nobody makes the right decision all the time, so we have to find ways to support making good decisions and forgive/rectify wrong ones as best we can.

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  15. In the younger grades, we really encourage speaking up, but how scary when I'm faced to do so as an adult. There are things now I'm thinking of that I should be stepping out, doing more, but I'm not. Fearful. Thanks for the encouragement and thought tonight. Also, I always love looking and reading about titles I haven't considered before! So thought provoking!

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  16. There is such a fine line between speaking up for our beliefs and telling people how to think or act, but you haven't crossed into the preachy zone, Linda. Thank you for sharing your convictions and speaking up for what you believe in!

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  17. Your tone as preachy? No. Concerned? Yes. People have responded so well to you. Without anyone ever speaking up the world would be a horrible place. Using the brave ones (books and real life) as examples we can encourage more bravery to stand up for what is right.

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  18. You are so right to lay it all out. Something has to be done in this world of ours where people are killed for so little, where so many people are so disrespected. There is little respect or honouring of others' beliefs, culture in too many places around the world. We have to take a stand where we see injustice.

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Having a conversation is a good thing!