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Re:[teacherartexchange] arts return to San Francisco, Teaching is Politcal!

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From: leah rachlis (leah_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Sep 08 2006 - 18:39:43 PDT


It has been a really busy week, I managed to catch the new photography
teacher's questions - but somehow didn't catch the thread about
immigration, I had to back track to figure out where it all came from.

I have mixed feeling about the list being a forum for Political Expression -
but for other reasons. I was born into what most would consider a left wing
radical home. I have experienced alienation from many different people (many
of whom I started out respecting on some level) just by opening my mouth.
As a result, while I have not lost the courage of my convictions - I do tend
to weigh the waters before I usually "spew forth."

So you can imagine what a shock it was for this good Jewish Liberal to move
from Lower Manhattan to Colorado Springs, CO. On every level of my psyche,
my believes have been challenged.

Today while discussing with a kindergartener's parent, why I did not think
it was a good idea for his daughter to be swirling the scissors I had handed
out in class - I had to hold back tears as he explained that her mom is away
in basic training and he is being deployed next week. My feeling about war
and peace aside - this kid just needs our attention.

The immigration issue is much more prevalent here in the west - than it
ever was for me as a New Yorker, although in NYC, I think we were all much
more conscious of our own identity as a country of immigrants. My parents
are both first generation citizens.

I know that the immigration issue is heated - the whole conversation has
shifted for me recently because a member of our family is married to a man
who came here illegally, he tried to come legally, but it was complicated
and difficult. I have never met a man with a stronger work ethic, or
personal responsibility. He and his wife (my daughters older sister) have
one child and another on the way - all they want to do is be a family - not
unlike my grandparents. What is really interesting about this situation for
me, is that my daughter's father (my ex - who is among the more politically
ignorant people I know), is now choking on some of his more right wing
ideas - now that he has a real face (and some grandchildren) effected by
these real life issues.

I think we would all benefit to remember that we are talking about human
beings, and children. Children who just want to learn.

I did not pursue much of a career as a political activist, I spent 20 years
working as a commercial artist, quietly refusing to work on jobs that
degraded or exploited women, I did do a stint running a women's shelter,
which was as much social justice as I could juggle while raising my own
children - and I slid in to teaching without realizing how political it
could/would be.

I did not realize AT ALL what a statement it is to be a teacher until I
read: "I Won't Learn from You": And Other Thoughts on Creative Maladjustment
by Herbert R. Kohl. Oh, MY! How could we think teaching is anything but
political. The future of our country (and the world) is in my classroom
every single day! For hours at a time! What better way to work for PEACE
than to teach ALL our children to think for themselves and do a better job
with the world than we have...

(as my High Schoolers would say -in a variety of languages)

Peace Out!

(I refrained from saying "DUDE!")

Leah - In Colorado

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