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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Background Influences (nfahm the lost files)

The Lost Files
What a Difference A Year Makes Part 1
Chapter 1: What a Difference A Year Makes Part 2
Chapter 2: Background Influences

Looking back at my own upbringing, I remember being in a Special Ed class for first grade, mostly because I refused to speak during the placement test. I wasted away there for 7 months until the fateful day when a substitute teacher called in a male teacher from across the hall to discipline us.

Now from what I can remember, although it was almost 30 years ago, the class needed discipline. The children were running around like wild animals, jumping off desks and yelling and screaming. I even remember children going in the storage closet to inspect each other’s genitals. Yes, in 1st grade. The teacher took out his paddle, sat down in a low chair, lined us all up, and paddled us. An hour later, I was the only child still crying and the teachers became concerned. This is when the substitute teacher remembered I had been sitting there the whole time, just watching the ruckus. I had not deserved a paddling.

The teachers kissed me, they hugged me, and they did everything they could possibly think of to console me. Then, at the end of the day, they asked me not to tell my mother. My older brother picked me up and automatically knew something was wrong. By that evening, I had told my mother, and resumed to crying for hours. As my brother walked me into school the next morning, we saw my mother leaving the school. She had apparently sent us off on foot, and then drove to the school by herself so as not to embarrass us. When I walked into the classroom, there were several teachers there, visibly shaken, and they looked at me and said, "We thought we asked you not to tell".
Later, Mom told us about how she simply lifted the man up with one hand by his collar and hung him on the chalkboard hook by the back of his collar and tie. Then she proceeded to threaten his life if he ever touched her child again.

Later that day, I was tested and placed in the accelerated classes where I should have been in the first place. The month was May. Come September, I found myself in Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic School. Catholic School was much better if you do not count the scowling nuns who caused me to have mild schizophrenia, by telling me one moment to speak up and the next moment that ladies should not speak so loudly. The daily beatings and taunting by the other Catholic School angels did not help either.

My husband’s story is not very different from mine. He tells me stories about having his Jamaican accent beaten out of him on the school ground. He escaped middle school with a broken tooth and a few permanent self- esteem scars. You can see why I am so sensitive toward my children’s educational environment. Even with this background, I sent my children off into the public school system. In doing so, I have watched my sons bright eyed enthusiasm for the world turn into little more than a flicker. His excellent grades have also dropped to below average in three years time. My daughter on the other hand has the kind of exuberance that cannot be squashed, and so she is labeled as a problem child and a disruption. Then they tell me not to worry. All children fall short somewhere.

Perhaps all children do fall short somewhere. However, all children excel somewhere as well. I will approach my children’s education by seeking the areas where they excel, instead of emphasizing the areas where they falls short.

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