Tuesday, February 06, 2007

February for Monica

This month is always hard on Monica. She finds it personally difficult to have to explain the institution of slavery to five year olds so very far removed from it, and difficult to relive America's racist history every year.
She always begins with Africa and these African American children's connection to that continent. She emphasizes the beauty of that land and the normalcy of life for African children of that day. Then the capture, middle passage, selling, and life as an American slave. She emphasizes the children and families. She does not soft peddle but is careful that the information is age appropriate. Monica always intersperses where possible inspirational slave facts and culture with the harsh realities. She introduces games, books, art, songs and reads Brer Rabbit stories.
Monica does an excellent job moving through the civil war, Abe Lincoln, Jim Crow, the civil rights era into the present. In a world where kids are so insensitive to so much, in a society where watching someone be humiliated is funny, and games are won by being the most violent, she has tough competition. She has to make sure they know slavery was real. Her goal is for the kids to feel not just sympathy but empathy, to feel compassion, to make the connection, to be inspired by their survival and that they can overcome.

Her children get it. They understand what came before them and that's important. Hopefully other teachers will build on the foundation she puts down.


Monica Roberts said...

And I have a cluless idiot posting comments on my blog that has the same attitude about slavery as VA Delegate Frank Hargrove.

It's hard to 'get over it' when you do genealogical research on your family and have to look in property records instead of census records to find them.

It's hard to 'get over it' when those same racist attitudes that sustained slavery for over 400 years are still prevalent in American society today and white Americans refuse to acknoledge it.

Yeah, it's been 142 years since the Civil War ended. But the post-traumatic effects of slavery on this country have yet to be addressed.

Jackie said...

Yes, my family had that same experience of finding our relative on the list of "property". Alexander Branscomb, listed with the farm equipment and livestock. And we are not even worthy of an apology. It's been over a century, and there's been progress but this nation has yet to be honest about it's history.

Anonymous said...

There ya go! Right on target once again! Your delineation of Monica's
brilliant achievements in her classes illuminated the very fine depths
of her character. You made us realize that's what "teaching" is all about.
Her bringing about a "story of horrors" without making the pupils cringe
with the knowledge of such evil makes us aware of the profoundness of
her sensitivity. Your special talent allows you to uncover the truth of
another's heart. We all ought to be proud of Monica! And be grateful to you,
for bringing out the best in her!
Blessings to you both...

Jackie said...

OMG! Maria thanks. It's great for a teacher to be appreciated, Moni thanks you. : )