If you are overly sensitive about the subjects of color, race, gender, culture or struggle to openly discuss these issues, this could be a touchy subject. How do I know… I tweeted this out earlier today and did not receive even one response.
Like the title says I am BIG, that sometimes can be seen as an understatement. At 5’11”, 290 lbs, I am a very large presence in a school setting. To put it mildly, I stick out at school whether it is on the playground during supervision, walking in the hallways or playing games and teaching my little grade ones.To top that it all off, I am brown, wow that was news to me, actually it wasn’t I own a mirror and well have had this 365 day tan for a few years now, 38 to be exact. To be completely honest I am Fijian, and have the stature of a Samoan.
However, this is not how I introduce myself, nor do I believe how I am remembered by my students. I am a strong believer in relationships. Actually I can honestly and truly say that above all the learning that occurs in a school, it is the development, cultivation and maintenance of a relationship that a student remembers the most about their time at school. The quote below by Maya Angelou states it clear as possible, which I know many educators would agree with.
Relationships are more than essential, they are fundamental, I am confident in saying this because I know other great educators such as C. Wejr and A. Couros, to name a few that all have written about the importance of relationships.
Therefore it saddens me that, whether knowingly or unknowingly an adult would effect the relationship a student has with a teacher. It also saddens, but doesn’t surprise me that an adult would state their misconceptions, prejudices, arrogance in the presence of children, who at a young age do not relate things to color, size, race or other physical traits.
So, do I have you wondering why I am writing this post? It is simply to remind individuals to think. Think about what you say, where you say them and who can hear you, because it effects people and well it confuses them and eventually will hold them back. Still confused, Ok here is some background.
Today, I went to pick up my early years class to take them to Physed Class, same as I do every Monday and Wednesday. However, today one of my little ones had something on their mind, something that was obviously bothering them. As we were finishing our snacks and lining up my little one said “Mr. Ram, my dad was talking about you”, to which I replied well that is nice. His facial expression changed as he said “no he wasn’t being nice”. Having an idea where this was going I inquired “Oh what did he say”, My poor little one said “he said you were fat and was making fun of your color”.
I felt very heart broken for my little one, not for myself, but for the child. A child who was now conflicted, a child that was confused as to why his dad would say something like he did, and hearing comments that go against everything he is taught about citizenship. A child that now did not now how to react towards his teacher, who gives out hugs regularly and who is always happy to see him. I was even more saddened, because as he was telling me this, three of his classmates came up, yelling my name and getting hugs, and this little guy got brushed out of the way, looking left out, left out because he was confused and struggling.
The question is what do you do? What do you say? This child’s dad is most likely his hero, and if not, he is definitely someone that he looks up to, I can’t go and damage that, so I smiled and said, “I know it is not nice, and we shouldn’t say things that are nice right, but don’t worry I am not upset, I was made me this way and I can’t change that, right” I was treated to one of his great smiles, meaning that he felt better, but I know that it effects him and at 5 or 6 years old he is conflicted with the issues of an adult that has no relationship with me. I am also scared for my little one that what he is hearing is going to effect his relationships both in his current setting and those that he will experience in his future.
Today was a sad day at school.