oh man.  I LOVED THIS BOOK.  a lot.

it was so, very, good.  I almost didn’t want to love it so much since it is so…..you know….popular right now, but shoot.  no way.  it was way too good for me to be too cool for it.  I just loved the story, the characters, the way it was written, everything about it.  it made me think a lot too.  some in ways the author probably intended, some in other ways.

1.  civil rights/segregation/all that stuff.  yes.  justifiably so or not, I feel connected to these issues.  mostly because I teach where I do.  and here’s the thing.  I know that my school is not super extreme.  I know there are a lot of schools that are “rougher” and the like than mine.  I know there are schools in kansas city that are more diverse, and have more poverty and more struggles.  but for where we are?  and compared to where I grew up?  we really are seen as a ghetto school.  anyone who works there or goes to school there can tell you it’s not, but we certainly do not fit the mold of pretty much every other school in johnson county.  and certainly not in our district.  the scales have tipped so that we are over half free & reduced.  we have a humongous hispanic population.  we have way more african americans in our building than the entire blue valley district does.  and I don’t see these things as bad, or as something to brag about, or anything like that, but I do prefer it.  I like that my 15 advisory kids represent five different races and the entire SES spectrum and different family models and different aptitudes.  and frankly, as much as I do appreciate the education I got growing up, I like that I’m not just surrounded by all rich white kids all day.  and you know what?  yes.  we have issues.  yes.  I have to break up fights.  yes.  the halls are kind of a scary place for my new girl who moved from a town of 300 people where she was homeschooled.  but it works.  and still, there are issues.  there is tension sometimes.  we have to spend a lot of time teaching our kids how to deal with those that are different than us.  and I certainly see more of it than I did growing up.  but I will always fight for my kids, so I really feel connected to the people in this book, who are fighting for themselves, for their people.  and stockett really does a good job of getting you behind the characters.  so that alone could have sold this book for me.

2. changing the norms.  I think that in this book, stockett gave me hope for my profession.  I don’t know at all if she intended that when she wrote it, but she did.  it has nothing to do with education, but the picture she painted of challenging what is accepted was SO something I think I need to hold on to.  to think about the attitudes of characters like hilly, and how ridiculous they seem to us now, compared to how normal they were for so long….how accepted it was to see those lines between black & white people….  it just really made me think about how frustrated I get sometimes.  how much I believe in my job; believe in my kids, and how much I am systematically prevented from doing my job…  it is hard for me to stay calm when there is SO MUCH wrong with the way education is viewed today.  how there are SO MANY things that are SO inherently wrong with the way things are structured.  how so, very, terrible it is to take away my students’ chances to learn problem solving skills.  how the government views teachers.  how the government prioritizes education spending.  and how there are so many stumbling blocks preventing me from doing my job.  I won’t spend any more time now up on my soapbox.  but even in a novel, knowing it is just a story, and not necessarily an accurate portrait, to see that picture, of how things were compared to how they are, gave me so much hope.

and so as kirk talked about this week.  about planting seeds, and not always seeing the end result.  that is what I will be doing.  like aibileen, telling mae mobley that she is good, that she is smart, that she is kind.  I will do what I can with my students, knowing that not everything is in my control.  hoping that sometime, people will start to figure things out, and things will change.  so thank you, to this book, for reminding me that hope is very real.

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