Thursday, January 21, 2010


I am wating for Kai to call me, so I can go into work. I am back, working part time with Books for the Future. So far, so good... I am enjoying my time working, and learning more about small businesses. I am still working at the group home, on Fridays, which is also good. It's fun seeing the consumers (and fellow coworkers) grow over time.

A week or two ago, I went out west (??) to Litchfield to visit Ardes Shea. I had seen her the week prior, with her family, but this time, I went out alone. We had a great visit together. We went to a small cafe in town for lunch (on a monday, I believe, monday the 12th of january). When we got to the cafe, there was a group of "retired school teachers" sitting at a table. They were all men. They seemed surprised to see me, which makes sense, as it is a small town.

A dude sat down with us, and didn't say much. He just wanted to say hi, and let his presence be know, I think. Anyhow, he said to Ardes (who is 87 years old), "I wish you would fall in love with me and we could run away together". Her response?

"I'd just assume join the army!!" It was hilarious! She is so "on point", for a woman of her age, and for just a human being in general.

We watched the news together, it was right after senator so and so said that Obama could get elected because he's light skinned and doesn't speak with a negro dialect or something like that. It was all over the news, and we soon got tired of it.

Ardes and I talked a lot about her experiences growing up. She's in a writers club, and it was awesome reading her stories. I shared stories with her about my grampa, and she encouraged me to write them down.

Speaking of writing...I am taking 2 classes this semester. One is with Tim Lensmire, and it's something about "Teaching Writing in the Classroom", with an emphasis on race (and how race/ethnicity plays a role in teaching writing). The other class is taught by Thom Swiss, and it's called "Teaching Creative Writing and Poetry" or something like that. I went to that class on Tuesday night. It seems cool....we will be doing a lot of our own writing and critiquing. That is good. The one thing I didn't like, is that of 18 kids in the class, 16 are White.

I'm not surprised by this...just disappointed. These are folks (myself included) who want to be teachers.... which is good, we need teachers, and good ones at that. The problem is, we (in the US) have a huge achievement gap between brown kids and white kids in terms of success in school. This starts at a young age, and can continue for a long time (even outside of school).

My issue/concern is that we need more teachers of color. We need more teachers who look like, or who have had similar experiences of their students. You can read all you want to about "Urban/Inner City Youth", or "Urban Education" or whatever the fuck.... but unless you actually dive in, meet kids, chill with kids, learn from kids.... all you're getting is a skewed perspective.

It's frustrating to me, because once again, I feel like I stick out, and if I want to speak up (in class), it will be difficult not to speak for "poor and brown people everywhere". I don't want that role. I am not that role. I mean, yes, I am poor, and I am brown.... but there should be more poor people and more brown people getting into education and teaching.

The problem is.... education fails poor and brown folks from the get go. It's a catch 22 I guess... we need more diverse/unique teachers to help "close the gap" and be role models for their students.... but the system is working against them almost immediately.

Time to go to work...


Kathryn said...

I found this blog b/c I was googling "Ardes Shea" and couldn't be happier to find someone had written about my own grandmother (who generally spends her time writing about other people)... Seeing as she is the only Ardes or Shea in Litchfield I think I can safely assume it's her :)How, may I ask, do you know her?

asha shoffner said...

I met Ardres at Philosophy camp. She's awesome. In fact, she's one of only a few people I keep in touch with from camp. Search her name on this blog...there are a few photos of her. She's an amazing woman, whom I admire and love. :)