Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Power of the Handshake

In response to "an essay that has become an internet sensation" — Amazing Confession from a High-School Teacher — writes Mike K:
    I read this and have to respond. I have prayed about this and want to be as Christian as possible. I am a white man who has successfully taught in the black community for several years. My students come from an impoverished background, over 90% receive free or reduced lunch. I will state I teach in the public schools, and my students are teenagers. They are also the best students in my community on all statewide tests. I am sorry but the above piece is not an indictment of children, but an indictment of adults. First, my students are always expected to use proper English, and enter my classroom in a dignified and scholarly way. I shake each of their hands before they come in the room. I do not accepted substandard performance, anything less than their best is graded accordingly. I call parents or guardians, and have almost always seen rapid response and correction. I even had a grandmother show up five minutes after I spoke with her so she could “impress” the importance of homework on her grandchild. Students perform for teachers who care and love them. I have never once loved a student into failure, and they have always strived to meet my expectations. My classroom is silent, well behaved, and hardworking, no exceptions. I am sorry but the above reads like an administration and teaching staff that does not care, which results in apathetic and criminal behavior, and honestly it would result in the same way in a poor school anywhere, regardless of the race of the children. There is more to this story, trust me. [Emphasis mine.]
This blogger has found the "handshake approach" works wonders with his students, admittedly from the top 1% of high school graduates here.

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Blogger Fitzhamilton said...

Ecco. I thought you linking to that essay was pretty lame. There's way too much of that sort of lazy minded and slovenly souled prejudice in the air these days. Everyone recognizes that the African American community has some serious pathologies and issues to deal with. But as someone who has several black friends who have it together, and are fine human beings, I deeply resent the slur that j**k*sses like the guy who wrote that essay make when he tars them with all his vulgar and sloppy assertions about black inferiority.

I taught HS French for a year at a rural NE school, my students were all white. Most of those kids were not at all interested in learning French, and like most teenagers were pretty unruly.

Have you heard Slipknot, Korn or Kid Rock? I'll see you Jay- Z and raise you the Bloodhound Gang. Seriously, listen to their song "Discovery Channel" and come back to talk to me about degraded culture.

Anyway, I failed that year, and while the administration was complicit in that failure in that they didn't really support me adequately, I have to say that the buck stops with me.

I could write an exculpatory essay denigrating mill workers' kids, call them crackers and little thugs, and tell a whole slew of unpleasant anecdotes of how crude, out of control and lowbrow they were. All of the dozens of nasty details would be true, too. But it would be cheap and self-indulgent. Teenagers are tough everywhere. If you can't teach, get out of the classroom and shut up.

There are Catholic schools in inner cities all over the country that don't mess around. They merely take impoverished minority kids and educate them. The staff at those schools aren't making vulgar vicious excuses, they are simply doing their jobs. Maybe the guy who wrote that essay should think of all those successfully educated black kids and just plug his incompetent pie-hole.

8:30 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

I agree; my linking was rather lame. The main point I tried to make, however, was that for both black and white kids, Booker T. Washingtonian vocational education should be an option.

I have black folks in family by marriage, including the richest man of his race in the Great State of Ohio. When that "teacher" spoke of "all blacks" he was way off base.

Sean Scallon's denunciation of the piece is well-worth quoting:

"I suggest whoever this person is visit a meth lab at some point in their lives, ride with a biker gang or perhaps hang out with skinheads for a day or maybe perhaps perhaps teach in poor, rural white district and then perhaps you might realize it’s the culture of the poor rather than the culture of the race which is the real difference.

"Bill Cosby does not act this way and has even spoken out against such behavior as you all know. I doubt if Thomas Sowell or even Armstrong Williams does either. Apparently this author does not know these gentlemen.

"As an editor of this website, I have been on the record as favoring free speech and not removing posts from commentators unless they are utterly vile and without merit or disruptive. But I am not the only editor, so I must act with prudence in deference to my partners. The author is free to state his opinions of his experience. But I have a responsibility to my own heart and mind and I believe strongly letting others know where I stand when the need comes to do so. Therefore, I denounce this piece as nothing more than worthless trash filled with stereotypes, strawmen and generalizations and admonish the author who wrote it.

"One thing I will be clear about in the future since I have been away from the site for a while busy with other work. If one wishes to obsess themselves about race, there are other sites on the web where one can do so, not here. I am not opposed to white nationalism per say (or better yet, separatism). There’s nothing wrong with white pride (as compared to the white debasement the Left wishes us to engage in) so long as it is pride and not hatred. You see what this hate has done to first Rhodesia and then in Zimbabwe. The record is right there. But it works both ways. What this article is is an attempt by the author to dehumanize his own students to excuse his failure as an educator. And what one dehumanizes it becomes easier to first hate, then destroy. No sir, I will not be a part of it, especially when we’ve pointed this out in respect to places like Zimbabwe and South Africa or the movie Machete for example. As I said, it works both ways. Hate is hate no matter what the color. I urge the other editors of CHT not to waste our time with pieces like this that do nothing to advance a conservative public discourse to the purpose of preserving the natural heritage of the simple patriot and patroon, which is the primary mission of CHT."

11:44 AM  

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