Class started today with a question:
"Mr. Aion, what are we doing for Black History Month?"
As the students started arguing about how this is math class and they should be doing something in history, I suggested that we do a research project about black mathematicians. Instead, we had a lengthy discussion about racial inequality in the public education system.
We talked about white privilege and why, with 350 faculty members in the district, we could only come up with the names of 5 teachers of color (not including administration). We talked about what it means for them and their families to see primarily white faces as educators.
We talked about what it means for them to leave their neighborhoods to come to a building where white people tell them what to do, how to behave and how to speak.
We talked about how, even though I have their best long-term interests in mind and do my best to act accordingly, I recognize that they don't always believe me. I expressed my understanding for their reluctance and how I hoped that over the past few months, I have proven that.
We talked about decision making and trying to do what's best for themselves in the long-run versus social pressure now.
It was an important discussion and I was happy to take the class time to do it.
When we got back to content during the second half of class, things were status quo.
Change can't happen overnight, or during a single period. Each of us is on our own journey and I need to be aware that my students won't always move at the speed that I would like.
That doesn't mean they aren't moving.
In amazing news for me, my speaker proposals have been accepted to the regional conferences of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics that will be held in Atlantic City in October and Nashville and Minneapolis in November! I'm pretty pumped! I'm not sure I can afford to do all three in terms of money or time off of work, but I'm going to try to swing it!