In watching the clips from The Wire my initial instinct was to be defensive about what the show was trying to convey and therefore, caused me to be analytical about the message being portrayed. While reflecting on this, I think it’s hard to say where it extends from, is it my teacher mind searching for the objective, or did this transpire years before? Throughout my years in the teacher education I recall numerous times getting wrapped up in introspective thought; my mentor teacher once told me I was, “too introspective for my own good”, but here I am being introspective about being introspective so she may have had a point. Determining how you look at the world, and why and how you choose the lens you do is no easy task. However, I feel as though being biracial is one of the prominent factors that magnified my lens.
For the record, I loath playing the biracial card, and I’m not going to deal it in the traditional sense. I did not have a radical experience where one day my race seemed to matter, rather it was just kind of always there. Growing up with virtually all of your friends being nothing like you, I assumed I was just meant to be different from other people. This perception gave me courage to experience life in the way I wanted to because I wasn’t so wrapped up in being “normal”, I was different from the people I surrounded myself with and I loved it. In a way, I owe my exterior for granting me the courage to explore my interior; which is ironic because far too often our society talks about the limitations being a minority brings people, but that is another introspective thought for another time.
I feel as though my race allowed me to see the world differently, and look at the overall bigger picture of what was happening, rather than the actual happenings; which is probably why I viewed the clips in the way that I did. There were apparent norms of class and race being presented and I chose to analyze that, my race allowed me to think in the manner in which I do. However, this was not the case for Richard Rodriquez. His race gave him more of a perspective as an outsider, “I’d wait to hear her voice return to soft-sounding Spanish, which assured me, as surely did the clicking tongue of the lock on the door, that the stranger was gone” (p. 16). Although the linguistic factor was something I did not have to experience, and I am well aware it would have made a huge difference, it’s hard to believe how different our race made us feel about and react with the world.
One distinction I can make about race and culture is how each of them developed throughout the years. I did not grow up in a bilingual family where I was the token Mexican family, my involvement with my ethnicity was the fact that it made me different, and not even in a negative way. During Rodriquez’s time, these factors changed the way in which he saw education, “I easily noted the difference between classroom language and the language of home. At school, words were directed to a general audience of listeners. (Boys and girls) Words were meaningfully order. And the point was not self-expression alone but to make oneself understood by many others” (p. 19). Although my culture weighs heavy to me on who I am, it does not necessarily get translated like that into society. The norms personified in The Wire were exactly the norms that had to be hidden for Rodriquez; and that is how culture and education are related, through their disconnect. Culture is so ingrained in everything that we say and do, it sets a standard to which students fall into, but it’s never addressed. It affects everything except for the ability to generate communication about it.
So maybe I just answered my own question: What relevance does this show have on American culture? To bridge the gap between culture and education by creating a fictional situation in which to start a dialogue!
To me this means we have to broaden our perspectives as educators. If you are going to be influencing the minds of others, shouldn’t you extend yours to see what other perspectives are out there? This matters to me because it is the basis as to why I entered education in the first place. People always have the radical idea that I became an elementary school teacher because I love children. False. I mean, I do, but that was not the compelling argument that one me over to the world of education. I did not become a teacher because of my love for children, but for my hate of bigotry. Bigotry and hate are taught; it is our role to teach students beyond the curriculum and onto what it means to be human. I mean isn’t that the whole point? Which leads me to why I am living my life the way I am. I have to keep traveling to find out what else is out there and share it among different systems of education. Which is why these are my goals for the next three dates:
Goal 1: Hold myself accountable while teaching at Anuban by August 2nd, 2014
Taking these courses has kept me grounded in my teaching here. I feel as though I could teach just about anything and act in any certain way without having to worry about job security, and that terrifies me. I have to admit I have become a bit complacent during this experience; knowing that most of what I do here goes unseen and unnoticed. It was a weird juxtaposition going from being an intern and having all eyes on me, to being at Anuban where communication in education simply does not exist between Thai and farang teachers. That being said, I need to step it up. Yes I am excited about my travels, but I originally came here to teach and I need to remind myself of that. I want to hold myself to a higher standard than I am being held to, I should expect more out of myself and my work, regardless if anyone is watching me. Therefore, I will be spending my long bus ride this weekend on mapping out unit plans and individual lessons for my subjects and begin to analyze the date of the students work. I have already talked to one of my Thai teachers about having more say in where students are being placed within the classroom. Asserting myself into a role of more responsibility will hopefully help in taking on a bigger leadership role.
Goal 2: Plan my trip to India by September 15th, 2014
Keep traveling; keep growing, keep an open mind. By mid September I hope set my plans for my trip to India. As stated earlier, I am growing a bit weary of the education system and need to get back to basics. I’ve decided to volunteer as a teacher in orphanages and failing schools around India for the duration of next year. In doing so, I hope to reintroduce myself to teaching while learning about the culture of their education system. I have already made contact with several schools and orphanages, but I want to set everything in stone; plan the durations of my stay, the specific locations and think about what my duties there will be like. From there I will be able to physically see and mentally comprehend what awaits for me next year!
Goal 3: Share my experiences abroad with the American education system by September 15th, 2019
Since the fateful day that is graduation day I have always said I would give myself five years to travel and then come back to the states. This goal would fall into this time frame, although this was the hardest goal for me to consider even though it was a goal of mine all along. I have to know that my experiences won’t be for nothing educationally. A part of me is fearful that when I return home I will avoid the American education system altogether; having this goal will work against that. Although I am not exactly sure how I want to share my experiences, if I want to continue my education and get a PhD or simply share them with my own elementary classroom, I just have to know that they will be shared. One step that I am taking in doing this is keeping a journal simply for educational experiences. My personal, and traveling experiences do coincide with teaching, however I think it is important that I look at these experiences individually and contextually. It is my hope that I do not stray from doing what I love, regardless of where I am.