Recently in my methods class, we have talked a good bit about culture in the classroom. I am from Alabama, and I go to school in Alabama, so I do not expect everyone that I am in a class with to have respectful views of other cultures (even though they should).
We talked last Friday about LGBTQ literature and how we might incorporate that in the classroom. A good one-third of the class practically openly stated that they would not teach it because they do not agree with it and it conflicts with their personal values. Another third of the class said that they wouldn’t teach it because of the trouble it might cause with parents or the school board. The final third (which included myself) wants to teach literature written by people who might be LGBTQ or with LGBTQ characters assuming we had a good reason to teach the book for its literary merit. Basically, I see no problem with teaching a book relating to LGBTQ issues as long as I am not saying, “We are reading this book because of the LGBTQ issues contained within and because some of the people in our school have to deal with these issues.” I do not think it’s the best choice to shy away from The Color Purple just because Celie is not attracted to men, especially when TCP relates to whatever unit I may be teaching.
Today we talked about racial culture and how we might address it in the classroom. I was astounded at the number of people who said they would not accept Ebonics as a language or a dialect. I understand not accepting papers written in Ebonics, especially in higher level classes, but what I noticed most was that many of my classmates tend to see students of color, particularly those who don’t conform directly to white culture, as distinctly “other.” There wasn’t much discussion of good African American or Latino or Asian literature to teach so much as there was angry shouting of, “I’m not going to teach a book by an African American author just because there are black kids in my class.” I was not under the impression that anyone had asked them to do that.
It’s my strong opinion that we should be teaching literature by POC whether our classroom is culturally diverse or not. We should teach this literature because it shows another perspective, because it challenges our ideas, because it makes us think, and because it forces our students to realize that perhaps the views they’ve held about the world for so long are maybe not as black-and-white as they think.
I understand that there could be problems with the administration, parents, or school board depending on the type of literature that I choose to teach. But that is not the most important thing to me, and I wish my classmates would take on an attitude that focuses on doing what makes the most sense for the class and crossing the bridge of opposition if or when we ever come to it.
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