I was talking with a friend who grew up in the hood. Not the, as he called it, “the sensationalized hood” that you see on television or in movies. But the real serious, “get your butt beat for no reason” hood — at home, at school, on the block, or wherever you were. It’s not a thing of the past. They just call it bullying nowadays.
I’m far removed from hood life, but I’m sure it’s just as stressful now for kids than it ever was, and the problem is likely compounded by social media. This friend went on to talk about the number of his peers who hardly ever saw their parents because they worked two or three jobs, so the older kids were essentially raising their younger siblings.
That got me to thinking about school. It is amazing when kids in the hood do well in school. I know many do succeed. But I’m thinking that its hard enough to do well when you don’t have all of those kinds of stessors on your mind and your heart. But when you’re thinking about getting jumped when you get on the bus or getting beat up when you leave your house, or having to provide guidance and emotional support to your younger siblings — the type of support you aren’t getting yourself — that makes it hard to concentrate and focus on school like you need to.
Additionally, it must be equally hard for teachers too. Being an educator is a tough job. I have many friends in that line of work. Both my parents were teachers and school administrators too. It’s tough. Teachers care so very much for their students. Yes, some students are bright and eager and want to do well; but some students are only glad to be in school because they know they’ll get a good, hot meal, something that’s not always guaranteed at home. As an aside, I remember getting chastised in middle school because I shared my lunch with a kid who got a free lunch from school. If you know me, you know I’m a thoughtful, giving person. I’m that type of person now, and I was like that as a kid too. I personally don’t understand why me giving some of my food to my friend would be a problem. My mom often made me some slamming lunches, and I didn’t mind sharing. But after three consecutive days of being kind to my school mate, I was sent to the principal’s office and got scolded. I don’t think there was a legitimate policy reason why I wasn’t supposed to do that, but I guess some people in power love to exact control over others merely because they can.
Anyhow, what’s the point of all of this? The point is, all students, all kids are not created equal. We should remember just how much we take for granted. A lot of kids have much more to deal with than writing a book report or studying for that history test. Have a little empathy for all our students. Many of them need much more than they are getting.