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Warriors Don't Cry (A Book Review): Implications for Today's Teacher and Parent Too!!

Updated on July 28, 2015
Janine Huldie profile image

Janine is a published author in Only Trollops Shave Above the Knees, appears on The Huffington Post and at Confessions of A Mommyaholic.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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© 2012 Janine Huldie

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    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 8 months ago from New York, New York

      Thank you so much for your beautiful and kind comment here. I truly am happy to have shared this wonderful book, as well as my opinion on it and society, as well. Wishing you a lovely week now!! :)

    • Debangee Mandal profile image

      DEBANGEE MANDAL 8 months ago from India

      A very inspirational notion. You really made an impression in my mind with your optimistic attitude.Worth mentioning that your hub strongly reflects that you are a loving and supporting mother.Excellent piece of writing immersed in beautiful words.Thank you , have a good day.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 13 months ago from New York, New York

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment here and sadly I know prejudice does still exist. How I wish I didn't and seriously am left very unsettled as I raise two young girls here to be kind, thoughtful and mindful of others.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 18 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      This is a wonderful and very smooth read about the atrocities in our schools. I truly hope that it gets better with all the cuts, but I just wonder. I have seen good, as well as bad teachers, and the good ones made a big difference in my life. I grew up with very little, but I was raised well, and an understanding teacher was certainly the icing on the cake. Thanks for your service, and long may you be successful at what you do. By the way, prejudice is still alive and well in the great state of Oklatucky.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Thank you so very much Paul and very happy to share this book, as well as my experiences, too. I really appreciate your kind words, pin and share on Facebook as well.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Janine, This is an awesome hub and I'm happy that I have finally read it. You are absolutely correct. All students should equally be treated with respect by teachers. You have done a fantastic job in weaving your teaching experiences in with your review of "Warriors Don't Cry." I will definitely have to read this book. Voted up as awesome and sharing with followers and on Facebook. Also Pinning.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Mary, I truly hope that I made a difference in at least one of former student's lives. I do appreciate your kindness here and I actually had written part of this article when I was a graduate student and went in recently and wrote this from an actual teacher's standpoint (from personal experience) and from a parents too now that I am indeed one. Do appreciate it though and thank you too for the votes as well!!

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      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Melba certainly was an inspiration and your hub on this subject was inspirational as well. Looking at things from a teacher's and mother's prospective was a great way to get your point across. It is teachers like you that help to raise students above the behavior they exhibited in this book.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Michelle, it still amazes me that in this day and age that racism still exists even in the most subtle forms still. When I went through this experience, I was so unnerved by what these kids who were according to society went through and how they were being labeled. It truly was an eye opening experience for me and thank you for taking the time to read and care about this so very important and timely issue. Thank you also for sharing and tweeting too!!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      This says so much, Janine!! You are right....racism now takes more covert forms, in ostracism or subtle neglect. As a teacher, you stood up to the test well, and I admire you for what you went through. You make an excellent teacher, one who is caring, diplomatic and above all, resilient. Tweeted, shared.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Eddy, thank you so much for stopping by, commenting and for being so kind on here. Hope you too are enjoying your weekend!!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Dianna, believe me when I say that I would also hope that racism didn't still exist, but unfortunately I know better from what I did experience. It makes me so sad though when I do realize that it does indeed still exist and just hope that someday it will be less and less in existence, but until then we really just need to educate others about it and bring it to the forefront. Thank you so much for commenting :)

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      Eddy Jones 5 years ago from Wales.

      Truly brilliant Janine I am going to enjoy following your hubs on here.

      Enjoy your weekend.

      Eddy.

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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I would like to think that racism has become less a concern in the classroom, but I would only be like the ostrich burying its head in the ground. Your approach to this subject is excellent and thank you for sharing from your experience. Hope others will take note of the book suggestions to make a positive change.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Thank you so much for the compliment here Julie. It is very much appreciated :)

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 5 years ago from Clinton CT

      Excellent job here Janine. I can tell you are a great teacher and mother!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Joseph, thank you do much. I totally agree about the 1850s with the Irish and definitely the 1930s with the Italians, because my grandmother was indeed Italian descent (born and raised in NY) went to to look for employment and had to endure questions about being Italian (these questions would definitely be illegal now), but back then anything went! As I said though prejudice still does exist even if they can't come right and ask those questions, employers can surmise and do as they please when hiring and when ask make something else up as to why they didn't hire. Seriously, thank you for your kind words here and your constant support too!!

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      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      Excellent points and Bravo for Melba and yourself Janine. Racism does exist and it keeps a low profile between educators. Some private schools do profile like in the housing market. Irish went through it after the 1850s. Italians suffered the same problem after the 1930s and the problem was passed on to our "minorities." America was founded by minorities and still is the land of the opportunities. Great hub my dear friend!! We need teachers like you more than ever!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Oh thank you so much for your kind words and compliment here Bill. The experience that I went through was in my very first teaching job right out of college and student teaching. It was such a trying time for me, but I swore I wouldn't sink down to the level of those students and parents too. In the end, I ended up leaving that position, because as wonderful as the less advantaged students and parents were those who had money and power in the district pretty much made in clear that if I didn't conform to their way then they would continue my life a living nightmare. I ended up a district that was in line with more of my teaching style, but unfortunately with the economy and cuts I didn't stand a chance of keeping a job over those who were there for many more years than me. I just hope someday in the not so far off future that I can return to teaching and to another district that will have me to teach their youth. Thank you again my friend :)

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Beautiful words of truth in this hub, Janine! You were a teacher I would have been proud to send my son to for education. I know your experiences were true because I saw the same things occur in my classes. The behavior of students is often reflected in the behavior of their parents.

      Does racism still exist? Oh my goodness yes, and as you pointed out it is now covert and sneaky. There is no place for it in education, and thank you for eloquently pointing out this fact.

      Bravo on an excellent, hard-hitting job of writing.