What Happens in Class, Doesn’t Stay in Class IV

  • I told half a class to divide themselves into groups and talk about discrimination against POC, and I ended up sitting in the corner trying not to giggle as these precious secondes said things like:
    • “To beer or not to beer, drink is the question”
    • “Donald Trump is very bad/racist/inhumane/stupid” (this gets better if you imagine them saying it in their French accents)
    • Parce que because”
    • Pire pire pire”–>“In English please”
    • “QQQ” instead of “KKK”
  • The next group split themselves into girls vs. boys to see who could come up with the most types of discrimination, and they took it so seriously, whispering so the other team couldn’t hear them. The girls finished first and then proceeded to distract the boys by talking to them, which I found hilariously ingenious—or as they’d say in French, malin.
  • Right before I took half her class into the library, J said, “I told you to talk about segregation, right?” and I went “Sure uh-huh” because I wasn’t about to point out that she hadn’t when her husband passed away two weeks ago. So I ended up BSing a lesson on the Civil Rights Movement and its evolution into Black Lives Matter, and then threw in intersectionality because why not, I’m never going to pass up a chance to talk about social justice.
  • Another group asked me questions about discrimination in the US—some really good ones about racism in jobs, schools, neighborhoods, states, etc., and even “Do you think there’s a solution to end racism?”
    • Some kid asked if there’s discrimination in men’s and women’s wages, and I absolutely did not have “A woman makes 77 cents to a man’s dollar” memorized.
    • Five boys in the back of the room were whispering to each other to figure out how to ask me, “Have you ever been a victim of discrimination?” but they decided it was too personal of a question. Aw, I absolutely would have answered your question, but I appreciate the sensitivity.
  • One group raised the question of whether there’s a term to describe discrimination against physical traits, such as height, weight, glasses, beauty, and clothing styles—and I couldn’t think of anything besides physical discrimination…?
  • A few students didn’t ask any questions, so all their classmates turned and stared at them. The poor children.
  • Several kids raised their hands to ask me how to say a French word in English. Thank you for believing that my French is good enough to let me serve as your French-English dictionary.
  • It was eye-opening, honestly, that these 15- and 16-year-old students in France are more aware than a good portion of the US population. (Yes, I’m looking at you, white people who voted for Trump. You know there’s a problem when high schoolers immediately start talking about Trump when I tell them to discuss racism.)

This week made me truly feel like a teacher for the first time—moderating discussions, teaching, explaining, and providing grades and feedback. I’m really grateful for the experience that working as a writing and French tutor gave me, and I think I could get used to this teaching thing…as long as the students are well-behaved and interested.

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