Classroom antics and Southern prejudice

Girl meets Class

by

Karin Gillespie

A Netgalley Review

 

Teaching in deprived areas is very much a challenge to a newly qualified teacher, and add to that, teaching those with educational difficulties and the challenge is doubled. How can I be sure this is true? Well. Because my first and second teaching posts were in areas that were far from middle-class, clean and salubrious. Rather I was teaching in schools where the children came from difficult home backgrounds.

I can justify this statement as in my second school I went on a training course so that I learnt to teach classes in baby and child-care to our many pregnant or new made mothers – it was a very popular class with regular attendance!

And in my first job I home tutored a young pregnant pupil, so young mothers were common in both areas – even though they were in different towns.

Additionally, in my first school I taught the class of pupils who needed life skills rather than history or geography. Lessons were about filling in forms and calculating change and making out shopping lists. And yes, I have been threatened by a pupil, who then went onto to punch the teacher who came to rescue me. So this story really resonated with my own experience- except that my experience was perhaps even more distressing – though the pupils’ homes I visited were largely in better condition.

In my second school, I found that the way to get the large lads reading was to provide them with comics. Today, I guess they would be the comic books that are popular or even computer games where they are required to read and type. Play to what interests them and also play games in class that are slyly educational whilst also being fun.

So, from the point of view of someone who has experienced the same situation, the book resonated.

Of course, teaching experience aside, the book is a light frothy chick read. With enough romance to satisfy.

What was however, disturbing, was the description of racial discrimination and prejudice that apparently still exists in Southern US States. To still have private clubs where black people are denied membership but are the majority of employees reinforces what we see on TV about the number of black males who are shot for no apparent reason other than their race and the fact that the police have guns available to them. To hear about the racial slurs that people in inter-racial relationships are called, and that they would be shunned by certain sections of the population was very distressing. It just reinforces our perceptions that Southern US can be a backward uncivilised area and somewhere you would not want to live. Weather aside of course – which would also be a real no-no.

So, is the book good? Well, there are some interesting social and cultural issues that are introduced in a light way but are there for us to notice – if we can. For this reason alone, I would recommend this book. But it is also a romance and a description of the coming of adulthood and adult behaviour of a spoiled child and adolescent with emotional difficulties and issues in relating to others. All of which are hidden in an easy flowing style and text.

So 4 stars for content and dealing with important issues within the story.

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One thought on “Classroom antics and Southern prejudice

  1. maureenjenner

    It is clear there are still racial barriers to be overcome, but it is to be hoped that time and education will reinforce the truth – that all human beings are equal whatever their colour or creed, and all people deserve the right to be respected in their community.

    Like

    Reply

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