Economic Privilege and Elementary School

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My daughter’s first grade class reciting Langston Hughes’ “A Dream Deferred”

My children attend public school.  This means that they have classmates with a wide range of financial means.  In addition to all the kids whose families can buy winter coats, birthday presents, and computers, there are kids in each class who live in subsidized housing and whose families do not own cars.

While all the kids share the same teachers and classrooms, they have very different experiences…even while at school.  How resourced your family is makes a big difference in your daily experiences. This is true even in a place like a school where teachers and administrators are working hard to give each child an equal and rich experience.

Let me illustrate with a few examples.  Take snacksContinue reading “Economic Privilege and Elementary School”

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Of Rainbow Fish and Cookie Exchanges (part 2)

In  Part 1, I argued that The Rainbow Fish implies that we can only have friends if we are willing to be exactly like them, and that friendship requires giving away all of our special attributes if our particular giftedness makes others feel jealous or uncomfortable.  I talked about how I disagree with the story in its suggestion that there is a small and finite amount of beauty and giftedness in the world, and that for there to be any equity, the beauty must be parceled out equally until there are only little bits of sparkle here and there.  No, I wrote, the sea is full of beautiful fish, each shimmering and vibrant in a unique way.  And part of the fun of life is to learn to truly enjoy others’ shimmering gifts.  The trick is not only to figure out what your unique gifts are, but also to choose celebration rather than jealousy when others are gifted in ways you are not.  It is not only okay that we are not all exactly the same;  it is deeply good.

Unlike many of my friends, I am not gifted to enjoy cookie exchanges.  Continue reading “Of Rainbow Fish and Cookie Exchanges (part 2)”