Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Measurements -- Revised

Today, I left work after an hour of professional development (a series of classes run by one of the school's literacy coaches, math coaches or assistant principals) with a colleague that is 10 years younger than me. And that is cool. We got onto the train and he gave me a much clearer landscape to contemplate.

He knew the former profession of some of the other male teachers. There are only 5 in the whole school. The most organic of us used to be involved in heavy industry, building parts for large engineering feats, like damns and generators. He is very cool.

To hear this story from my colleague was a glimmer of hope concerning the types of conversations I could have with my colleagues, but also showed astuteness of the young 20-something. Sometimes I wonder what the ultimate end is to such astute observations. In America, I believe it is marginalization. You have to somehow buy into the consumerist ideology to benefit from it, or just sit on the sidelines. You gotta be in it to win it, that is for sure.

"He is a blue collar worker, so he comes in does his work and goes" the young teacher said.

I need to learn to take teaching in this manner, despite the age of the students, the level of the students, or the subject matter. And for a moment I had a flashback to some crazy discussion with academics and bibliophiles concerning that certain other "other" -- the worker.

I guess the tyranny of the well intentioned missionary -- may they be actual religious zealots or actual Marxist zealots -- never dies with white folk. The program I entered has a modus operandi and under-pinning that is the same as the Peace Corp in Africa except it is aimed at the inner city. And I guess in our quest to assimilate into the folds of American society, some of us black folk have replaced our own corneas with theirs. And in their quest to help, some liberal white folk can not forgive us for being successful or not falling into their idea of what collards/coloreds should be. In other words, to help is to be a black missionary in the great sea of white missionaries that have helped other minorities assimilate into American society. But to say that you don't need their help places everything on edge.

I wonder how long it will be before I see clearly. I am the only black male teacher in the school. I was the only black male in my publishing office 10 years ago. It just seems to be fate in someway.


Professor Zero said...

The colleague I have who is best able to rise above the departmental silliness was a first generation college student. His family has a trucking firm and he is the odd one, having gotten a PhD and all. I noticed his way of working from the beginning: coming in, doing the work, going. I thought: that's the trucking firm m.o., and it is going to save his sanity. It has.

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