ambiguity

August 13, 2010

Pre-judging

Filed under: Uncategorized — theinkhorn @ 1:48 am

It’s a wednesday and I’m flipping through assessment books, waiting for my next student to arrive, wondering why math didn’t seem this fun a decade ago. Suddenly, an alarm in my head goes off. Someone’s standing in my blind spot. A reflex i picked up as a kid. I turn my head just enough to catch a glimpse of who it is from the corner of my eye.

“Yes, Anthea?”

“Watcha doin’?”

9 years old and one of the brightest kids I’ve ever met, Anthea peers over my shoulder.

“Preparing for my next lesson.”

“Oh…”

I continue flipping the pages, still wary of her presence. Algebra… 10 years later and it’s like connecting dots.

“Are you a gangster?”

The wheels in my head screech to a halt. I am genuinely stumped. Anthea senses it, and tries to explain herself.

“My parents say that people with tattoos are gangsters.”

I put down the book and turn to look at her. She shows no fear, only curiosity. It is an encouraging look, one i long to see on the faces of all my students, one that shows me that I’ve done a good job with them.

“What do you think, Anthea? Do you think I’m a gangster?”

“No. You’re smart. You help everyone with their work.”

She flashes me a smile. I can’t help but reciprocate the sentiment.

“Then there’s your answer. Ink on someone’s body doesn’t make them any worse than the next person. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently.”

“Okay!”

As I watch her skip away, the question slowly begins sinking into the quicksand of my subconscious. It amazes me, society’s prejudice against people who refuse to conform to normality. Even more flabbergasting is how parents can believe that such prejudice protects their kids. How can one genuinely believe that a man with a tattoo is more likely to kidnap a child than one who doesn’t? Logically, statistically, it doesn’t make sense.

But there’s the problem. Parents have stopped making sense. Because whenever their kids are involved, rationality becomes a non-issue. Discrimination is discouraged, but not when it feels right. Treat everyone fairly, unless the colour of their skin makes you doubt. Be wary of strangers, especially those who fit a particular model.  And as if that isn’t messed up enough, spread that hate to your kids. Teach them the same bigotry you subscribe to.

As an educator, the only thing worse than witnessing such indoctrination is not being able to stop it. Our influences only spread so far. An hour and a half, sometimes two, of education is easily wiped clean by a week in their own home. The qualities I try to impart unto my students; rationality, curiosity, courage, willingness to stand up for their beliefs, I hold close. And i can’t imagine teaching my kids, if i ever have any, any differently. I’d want them to find their own spoon and feed themselves, to believe that who they are and who they will become ultimately depends on decisions they will and should make on their own. I’d want them to love, but not just the ones who look like them.

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August 6, 2010

National Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — theinkhorn @ 7:12 pm

Our country turns 45 in three days. Flags are hanging off window sills, banners everywhere, stages are literally set for a festival of the wildest order. Yet, before you start lighting sparklers, before you paint your face red and put on that grin, ask yourself one simple question: What exactly are you celebrating?

The banners, or the beautiful, clean and green landscape?

The fireworks, or the safety stemming from a strict no-guns policy?

The parade, or the sophisticated transport system, designed for our convenience?

The earth-rattling rumble of song and dance, or the lack of natural disasters?

The public holiday, or the nation’s birthday?

The national colours, or the colourful assortment of food made available?

The culture, or the lack of one?

The day, or the idea behind it?

Do you celebrate because they tell you to? Or do you celebrate because, despite knowing what you could obtain, you recognize what you already hold.

Do you celebrate their day? Or do you celebrate yours?

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