I'll never forget the day I was driving home from work and saw one of my kindergarten students walking home. She was walking down the street with her mother who was pushing her younger brother in a stroller. She was about ten steps behind her mother and she was obviously getting a lecture for something she had done wrong. What made this readily apparent was the fact that she had her head down, staring at the sidewalk, as she was sullenly following her mother.
This event resonated with me because the last time I had seen this 5-year-old she was bragging to me about what a great day she was having. While I have no idea what had transpired right before I drove by, the stark contrast from my earlier encounter with the young girl made my Friday drive home a little less joyous.
I work in a school in which most of the students receive free and reduced meals. Many of them have never had anyone in their family attend college. The majority of my students are being raised by single moms who are simply doing the best they can. And worst of all, a growing number of my students have parents who are currently incarcerated.
I worry that many of my students are so unaccustomed to seeing friends and family members in positions of authority that they do not even see it as a possibility. Many have little, to no freedom at all when they are at home. Then they come to school and we tell them where to sit, when to talk and what to read and write. Not that we shouldn’t structure our students’ days. It’s just that we are working with a generation of children who have no idea that they have the potential to one day be the decision-makers....