Malala Yousafzai was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for taking ‘a bullet’, actually, many bullets for the education of girls. Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his activism concerning a cleaner environment. One of Gore’s six drivers of global change is to ensure girls are educated and gain political and economic power. Gore’s premise is that men and women must safeguard women’s reproductive rights. If we do not place education at the forefront for global improvement, there will never be enough advocates for a better world for women and a cleaner environment. Bottom line, if girls and women are not empowered (with efforts of men and women in power, from the bottom up and the top down) there is no chance for Mother Earth, either.
Last night I took Thelma, my dog, for a walk. It was too hot during the day. It was a Sunday so there’s a different crowd on Sundays. The Spanish saying is that you rest after lunch (traditionally the largest meal and a good time for a siesta) and walk off your dinner. Sundays I see more families walking off their dinner.
Down the street a ways I saw a young teenage couple laughing and flirting with each other. They both, probably, left home telling their families they were going for a walk which I don’t hear much in the United States.
As they approached me I was wondering whether to greet them in English or Spanish. There are thousands of people who cross the border (legally) each day and I want them to come back and visit and enjoy Nogales. I sometimes feel if I greet visitors in English, it might make them uncomfortable…silly thought.
These young people looked energetic and enthusiastic so I greeted them in English. The young man stopped in the middle of the crosswalk, burst out a huge teethy smile and said, “Hello teacher.” I was honored by his greeting.
Unfortunately, I did not remember him. I was doing observations at a high school during the year, maybe that’s where he knew me from. I talk to young people who work summers in the Job Corps. My office is attached to the alternative high school and I had attended the community college graduation, maybe it was at one of those places. I also used to teach English as a Second Language to adults. Maybe I was his parents’ teacher and they pointed my out to him.
It really didn’t matter where he knew me, I was just honored that he addressed me with that historic, global reverence to teachers. Teachers are second to parents throughout the world. A young person only needs one great teacher to become the incredible person she or he was placed on this earth to be…only one.
In the United States and especially the last 13 years of No Child (or teacher) Left Behind (joyful), people with no background in education (State & National lawmakers in Congress and local school boards) were making business ventures with young people’s lives. Fortunately we are not world educational leaders and no other country followed our lead.
Throughout the world, educators control the education process and they do quite well. The U.S. claims to offer free and public education to all and some countries do not. Notwithstanding, if educators in the U.S. could be in charge of the educational system, I am sure we could outshine any country and the “teachers” in the U.S. would be revered as life-changers, again.
One of the greatest things about U.S. public schools is that our teachers mold and support young people as creative, thinking individuals, not as widgets as politicians and businesses would like. Hooray to you teachers, my respect and my admiration go to you. Thank you for your hard work, your hope and your optimism because every day you get up believing you will change lives…and you do. I hope you experience the joy of hearing, “Hello Teacher.” when you least expect it.
When my son was in kindergarten he told me his teacher didn’t like him. We were at Hollinger Elementary and we had an outstanding bilingual education program. Daniel was Spanish-dominant so it was a perfect place for him. I even had a sitter in the neighborhood so he didn’t have to wait at school until I was done. He insisted he couldn’t go there anymore, because his teacher just didn’t like him.
His teacher was an amazing, bilingual educator whose parents were the whole language gurus at the university, it couldn’t get any better than that, but he didn’t want to go back there.
I made a deal with him. If he went back for one week, and still hated it, we’d change schools. My classroom’s windows faced his classroom’s door across the courtyard. The next morning I watched as students walked in and BAM, I saw the problem.
The teacher was at the door welcoming her students as they arrived, or at least she was postured to do that. We had begun the schoolyear with a Harry Wong training and his major premise was, greet you students at the door every day.
She was actually conversing with the teachers on either side of her classroom. They must have all accepted to meet their kids at the door in the morning, but they weren’t greeting the students.
I watched as my son attempted to get her attention and she did not even see him. He was brought up to greet adults when he first saw them during the day. He knew he just had to make that traditional, painful contact only once and then he could go back to being a kid. When she didn’t greet him, or look at him, he believed it was because she didn’t like him.
His Dad taught him “El saludo no se le niega a nadie.” Translated it means it doesn’t matter what you think or feel about another person, you must greet them. It’s the “educated” thing to do. In Mexico, educated means proper traditional etiquette passed down by parents, not schooling. Later you might not speak to that person, however you MUST greet them.
I was and still am friends with the teacher. She is not Latina, however she was brought up in Tucson and learned the language and loved working in the community. When I told her my dilemma, she was mortified. She didn’t know about the saludo/the greeting and thanked me, profusely for opening her eyes to a part of the culture she was not familiar with and might make other Latino students uncomfortable, as well. I explained it only had to happen once upon initial contact every day, but it HAD to happen.
At home you had to do this every time someone dropped in, or walked by, or lived with you. When my son got older it actually bothered him to greet people and I’d tell him he’d have to go live in New York so he wouldn’t happen to. He actually did move to New York, eventually.
Well back to kindergarten, I never checked up to see if she got it, but by the end fo the week, my son loved school. He even starred in the play “Too Many Hats.” Previously he had been unable to participate comfortably in class activities because he was obsessed with figuring out why the teacher didn’t like him. He couldn’t concentrate on anything else, kindergarten had been torture for him until the teacher began greeting him. He never mentioned not liking school, again.
El saludo/the greeting is the “transfer” from kid to student. One does the despedida/good bye to the parent as authority and begins a different type of authority (education) with the saludo/greeting from the teacher. Then teachers don’t greet their Latino students (or other cultures, too) they begin disconnecting from school because they don’t feel there is an authority figure there.
Because of the stereotyping of what Mexicans look like, some kids, teenagers especially, don’t think I’m Latina. When I greet them, they seem surprised that I have manners. Some do not return the greeting. Some seem hardened after not having been greeted properly for years, others use it to be “cool” or “aloof” or “artistic”. Most return the greeting respectfully and with a smile. My daughter says it’s like turetts, greet a group of Latinos and they are respond in unison.
A friend shared that she spends time with homeless people. She shared that most of them are startled and surprised when she looks them in the eyes and greets them. She even shakes their hand. She spoke of one man who asked her, “Are you speaking to me? I didn’t think you could see me. Most people just walk by as though I wasn’t here.”
I’m thinking that is how my son felt when his teacher didn’t acknowledge him, but he did something about it. I imagine many Latino youth, or kids from cultures where the greeting is a valuable connection to other human beings, lead a double life. They keep their distance with adults at school and are entirely cross-generational when they go back to their private lives…and it simply stems from the saludo/the greeting.
As teachers we must create classrooms that model creativity, learning and peace. Teaching is not easy, but public school education is a vital venue that models democracy in action, even if some parents expound something different at home. As a country, the United States models democracy in action and our public school system must be stronger than the enemy…and yes, there are enemies of democracy.
When good teachers feel they must leave, what once was a noble profession, because politicians and big businesses in the United States are treating students and teachers like widgets.
This group asks teachers to ‘steal’ their material. If you began teaching to Common Core Standards when it came out in 2010, or your state and/or district decided to jump on after the train left the station and your students will be assessed on them next school year, this site has some useable resources to make your trek easier. Enjoy!
Less we forget how many children, especially girls, around the world do not have the opportunity to even learn to read. This is today.
This video and interview transcript tells of 13 year old girls who rebel against the status quo. They ask girls to pull together, not compete with each other. They have a lot of strong convictions about the role of girls and women, at 13.
My favorite son is an Iraqi vet, military reporter, and editor at Patch.com. He went to read to a 4th grade classroom and the teacher had this sign up at the reading station. This is so simple for young people to be able to understand before they get frustrated with reading. My only suggestion would be that it begin with “Choose a book you are interested in reading.” I, also, appreciate that he is out there checking out how to support my blog, teachers and young people. Life is good!
We can not forget that there are young women and children around the world fighting for the opportunity to be educated, along with their fight to stop the violence against women and children; children like Malala. This is an amazing video of this child saying that she has been given a second life (after having been shot in the face by a powerful man in Pakistan for fighting for the right for young girls to get an education) and she will be spend it serving others.