ERIC Number: ED392037
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Jun
...And Justice for All. Occasional Paper No. 41.
Diaz-Gemmati, Griselle M.
A Puerto Rican teacher of an eighth grade consisting of 33 students (19 girls and 14 boys) at a racially-mixed public middle school found that teaching students about race and gender is a risky venture. The median age of the students was 13.8. The racial demographics were as follows: 45% African-American, 31% Euro-American, 18% Latino, 3% Asian-American, and 3% of East Indian heritage. The class started by reading "To Kill a Mocking Bird" together, a text that explicitly engages issues of race. In reading the book, members of the class began to engage one another on issues of race, leading to very heated debates, arguments, conflicts and, in one case, physical violence. Later, a discussion in which students were asked to share their own personal experiences of prejudice and discrimination, racial and otherwise, led to some healing of the wounds opened during earlier discussions. The class also read "Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry," a novel that takes place in the south at about the same time as "To Kill a Mocking Bird," but is written from the perspective of a young Black. During discussion of this novel, the class bonded momentarily with one another while sharing common experiences of persecution or criticism for attending a racially mixed school. In the end, the question arose of whether or not it was worthwhile to engage in discussions on racial issues. The conclusion was that it was doubtful that a teacher could truly affect the lives of students by reciting pre-rehearsed lines on a make-believe stage and remain in blissful ignorance. (TB)
Descriptors: Case Studies, Classroom Communication, Controversial Issues (Course Content), Grade 8, Junior High Schools, Literature Appreciation, Middle Schools, Multicultural Education, Racial Attitudes, Racial Relations, Reader Response, Student Attitudes, Teacher Student Relationship, Teaching Styles, Writing Instruction
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy, Berkeley, CA.; National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy, Pittsburgh, PA.