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Warriors Don't Cry (A Book Review): Implications for Today's Teacher and Parent Too!!
Implications for Educators Then:
Only one teacher, Mrs. Pickwick, in the book “Warriors Don’t Cry,” by Melba Pattillo Beals, treated Melba fairly. As an educator, this made me wonder (and made me angry too), how all the other teachers in this book could have had so little disregard for a student’s welfare. Granted the events in this book took place over 50 years ago, but shouldn’t a teacher treat and respect all students equally and fairly?
In the proper context, I began to realize just how different things were during this era in the southern states of the United States. Just because the main character was of African-American descent, she was treated horribly and endured cruelty like no human being (especially a young child) should. Why you ask? Simply put, she wanted a better education and was a different race than that of the enrolled students at Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas.
All the questions and thoughts I can raise have been asked and thought of before from this landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education. But as a teacher, the one thing I can say is that I believe that all students should be treated equal. Teachers should be non-discriminatory and students should feel safe in their care, but this was not the case during this time in history.
Implications for Teachers Now:
As a teacher in 2012, we need to strive to treat all of our students not only equally, but with respect too. I was raised to see the good in all no matter what color skin they have or what their ethnic background is.
Racism and prejudice, however, do unfortunately still exist. It may not be as blatant and overt as it was during the time in history presented in this book, but now it’s more covert and not as obvious. Teachers, in general, now need to set aside any preconceived notions and just be educators. I was raised to see the good in all and not to judge someone before getting to know them. I would like to think, that for the most part, I have been impartial with all my students in the past and will also be with my future students too. That said, I would like to share with the reader a true experience that happened to me as an educator.
My Own Personal Teaching Experience:
In one of my first teaching jobs, I taught at an affluent school that just happened to also have some of the poorer side of town bused in also to be a part of the student body too. Well, I actually taught three sections of classes that were from white middle to upper class families, as well as two sections of classes that consisted of young kids from these poor neighborhoods too.
Let me tell you the three sections that were comprised of the more well off children were by far the most miserable classes I could have taught. The students, as well as, the parents had little to no respect for me as an educator and saw everything I tried to do as criminal and were also the first to complain whenever they felt like it. I got observed during one of their classes (most teachers know, you get a certain amount of observations a year), and afterwards I asked the students who were in my class if they noticed that the principal had been sitting in during part of their class. To which, one student responded, "When?" Seriously, these kids were so oblivious and could care less. The parents at "Back to School Night" were just as belligerent as their kids by being rude and even interrupting me while I spoke. But through it all, I still treated the kids, as well as the parents with respect and did my best by them, because as an educator I wouldn't do any less.
On the other hand, the classes that contained the less fortunate students were by far some of the nicest and most respectful kids. I remember also being observed by the principal and superintendent during this class also one day. Well these students did everything they could to be on their best behavior and were angels during this observation. Afterwards, the students told me that they knew the principal and superintendent were there to observe me and that in their words, "They did not want to lose me, so they made sure to be good." I was obviously floored by this, because they truly did respect me and went out of their way to make sure to do right by me, because as another one of these students told me, "I truly cared about them and they in turn cared about me." During "Back to School Night", I got to meet the parents of these kids and let me tell you the apple didn't fall far from the tree, because they same parents all told me the same thing that they just couldn't thank me enough for truly caring about their kids and how they appreciated all I did for their children day in and day out. Just goes to show, money doesn't buy everything (including manners!).
Both sets of students, I treated equally and with respect no matter what they could throw at me. I think it is only right as a teacher to give your best to all your students no matter their cultural background. I also feel that as I already pointed out there is good and bad in every situation and as educators, we must rise above and still do right by all of our students no matter what the situation may be.
Can This Book Be Used As a Teaching Tool?
Also, as a teacher, I began to think while reading this book about the subjects in school this book could be used to teach, as well as if it could be used for an interdisciplinary instruction tool too. I, honestly, believe that it could be taught in English, History, and Sociology classes.
English and History classes are pretty obvious. Because first it is an amazing read for a literature class. Second it is also a great piece to read to learn about the 1950’s and the Brown v. Board of Education landmark Supreme Court Case for an American History Class.
In most high school English classes, “The Diary of Anne Frank,” is a mandatory read. That book depicts one girl’s struggle and bravery in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. This book shows us yet another girl’s courageous struggle in the heart of the south during the late 1950’s in the United States. I wonder if what happened to Melba happened anywhere but in the US, if it would be included in more high school curriculums in this country. This corresponds with the whole issue of “Big Brother is watching” and teachers need to be careful as to what they teach to their students.
As far as sociology is concerned, this book is wonderful to read to see how their parents and their environment socialize children. The Caucasian students treatment of those 9 African-American students depicted that socialization occurs through one’s upbringing (reminding me still of my previous teaching experience above). It was interesting to see the character of Link and how he struggled with his upbringing on one hand and his conscience on the other. For the most part, this book portrayed these Caucasian students as monsters, who had no consciences whatsoever, and whose environments truly embraced this behavior.
Please Read Some of My Hands-On Lessons:
- Middle School Math Back to School Lesson: Budgeting with Harry Potter's Sorcerer Stone
This Hub is about teaching Middle School Math through the use of a hands-on activity. The topic being taught here is budgeting and the hands-on activity is using the book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: Book 1 to make a budget.
- IPod Touch--Middle School Math and Using Percent Problems
This Hub is about teaching Middle School Math through the use of a hands-on activity. The topic being taught here is percent problems and the hands-on activity is buying an Apple IPod Touch.
- Stock Market Middle School Math--Mean, Median and Range
This Hub is about teaching Middle School Math through the use of a hands-on activity. The topic being taught here is statistics (specifically mean, median, and range) and the hands-on activity is using the Stock Market.
Summing It Up From Not Just A Teacher's Point of View, But A Mother's Too..
As a side note and to sum up my thoughts, I would like to share what this book meant to me. I was so riveted by the main character’s plight, that it was very difficult for me to put this book down. I am a wife and mother to two small children, as well as a writer here on Hubpages, but just couldn’t help but want to finish this book and find out how it all turned out for Melba. I already shared my feelings on Melba's plight as a teacher, but as a mother I was truly appalled how Melba was treated, especially by her teachers.
Teachers are adults that children should never fear or be scared of. As a parent myself, I can tell you if anyone hurt my children especially a teacher, I would definitely come out swinging. I am not a violent person by nature, but my children are my children. Don't get me wrong, if either of my children were to do something wrong in school (trust me I know my children aren't perfect) they need to be corrected and even punished, but just to hurt them for the sake of hurting them is another story all together.
I, honestly, felt that I was rooting for her on the sidelines up until the very last page. In my eyes, Melba and the other African-American students were an inspiration and should be thanked for their courage and all they endured for that whole year of their lives’. If not for them, there may never have been a chance for a better education for today’s African-American students in the south in this country.
About the author:
Janine is a freelance writer and mom of two. She is known for being a certified and licensed professional Math Teacher through NY State and has taught in both the middle and high school levels. You can checkout her profile and more real-life Math articles here.Are you interested in writing forHubpages? You can sign up today and publish your first article!
© 2012 Janine Huldie