teaching in america

  It was

  It was like a building that held The Blues, the synchronized groaning of agonized souls, set to a cadence beat out on the hollow desk-tops of inner-city schools across the country: Palm-palm-pencil! Palm-palm-pencil! “Boom-boom-clack! Boom-boom-clack!”

From the mouths of every student, stories of mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunties and uncles murdered, dead or in prison. The stories varied, getting better, more spectacular, as they encouraged each other along in their telling, acting out, writing, rewriting, and rewriting, animating, adding detail, retelling, re-acting out, etc… I wish I could print those stories exactly how the students wrote them, themselves. But they were tossed in the trash, with everything else in my classroom, upon order of the school principal. I still have the memories though. Here are a few stories:

Detroit Diary October 4

Abuse of all types were rampant in this school. Kids always seemed to come to school in a sort of post-traumatic haze. They rocked back and forth and moaned, or got angry at chairs and desks, broke them to pieces right there in the class. They stabbed each other will pencils for fun, stumbling across the room and tripping so as to make it look like an accident when Khalid or Shabazz received a pencil to the neck.

Fornication was the norm too. Girls liked to entice boys into closets for a quickie. One kindergarten student had been caught molesting his peers during nap time, not once, but three times. The school discussed these issues with the grandparents, but to no avail. Finally they requested that the grandparents find a new school, and the boy was moved. 

Detroit Diary September 19

 Upon ending The Diaries back in 2005. I embarked on an elementary student-teaching experience at an American military base in Okinawa, Japan. Here I was teamed up with an angry and obese Catholic woman who immediately informed me that men should not be allowed to teach in elementary schools, and so I should remain three feet away from the children at all times. Then she introduced me to her teacher’s assistant, a young army brat, assigned by my mentor to the name Chocolate Swirl. Needless to say this young lady was, like my own children, an incredibly beautiful and highly intelligent, mutt.

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