Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tales of a Middle School Teacher

So today I decided it was time to show my fifth grade music classes a Charlie Brown cartoon about the history of American music. I love Charlie Brown, so it sure makes my day go easier! Kids astound me, though. I have to share a comment one student made this morning.

The video eventually tells the story of how so many immigrants came to America in the early 1900s. Irving Berlin, a Russian immigrant and musician, wrote such famous songs as "God Bless America" (yes, we have him to thank) and "Alexander's Ragtime Band."

One of my students who is usually quiet and happens to be a very patient and polite boy practically jumped out of his seat and shouted out angrily, "I just have to say one thing! I hate immigrants! Especially Mexican ones!"

Yikes. Okay, so after my stomach dropped, I tried to recognize this as a "teachable moment."
After catching my breath, I reasoned with him and the class that everyone here except the Native Americans came from somewhere else originally, right? So, his own ancestors were even immigrants, etc... We are a land of immigrants from around the world and their descendants.

Where does a nice little boy like this HEAR THESE THINGS?? It frightens me. I just hope I could make an impression on him.

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