Sunday, July 01, 2007

An exceptional mind

Luther is doing some work for me, revising a supplement for a textbook on African-American History. Meanwhile, in my class on Medical Communication, one of the ongoing discussions over the past few weeks has been about race and children's learning materials, prompted by our analysis of an asthma management simulation prepared for black kids in Atlanta. This morning, once again, our activities crossed paths in a little discussion.

I was a bit fired up (I know, it's difficult to imagine, right?) about the whole idea that a kid wouldn't "see herself" in the simulation unless there were a kid of the same skin color in that simulation. Why wouldn't a kid identify with another person, regardless of skin color?

The whole thing brings to mind how often I heard, growing up, that "girls don't have any good role models." The idea was (and still is, no doubt) that a girl couldn't aspire to be an astronaut, school principal, mayor, or mob boss unless she saw women in those positions. THIS DROVE ME NUTS. When I saw an astronaut, I never thought, "wow, if only I was a man so I could do that." Kids don't limit themselves like that unless we tell them to, such as when that guidance counselor told me I was being ridiculous for choosing "fireman" on my careers survey, because that's a man's job.

Luther listened patiently. And then he said: "You also have to take into account that you have an exceptional mind."

I said: "But I really don't believe that!"

And he said: "Well, that's because you're stooopid."

Wise, wise words for a Sunday morning.

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