American Renaissance in the Hands of Educators - An essay
by Lynda L. Hinkle
My father's family escaped the coal mines of Western Pennsylvania when he was ten years old in order to move to the working class neighborhood of Bellmawr, New Jersey. As Bellmawr had no school of its own, its children were bussed to the Haddon Heights School District where they were immediately placed at the bottom of a clear social caste system that was reinforced by the student body as well as the teachers.
My father reacted as many young people do to such an unfair situation: he rebelled. He became the bad student that they told him his socioeconomic class dictated. When the school conducted an IQ test, my father's English teacher announced disdainfully, "You will NEVER guess who had the highest IQ in the senior class? Wayne Hinkle." Yet, his grades only barely enabled him to graduate high school.
Forty-some years later, smart children are still failing out of schools where race, gender and socioeconomic class are more likely factors in their failure than their ability. At the feet of this inequity I lay the blame for the stultification of our entire culture. Americans expend more energy silencing voices that contest "traditional values" upheld by the privileged than it does in developing solutions and expanding itself culturally, spiritually, and even economically. Ironically, these traditions no longer function effectively among the majority of American people, including the privileged themselves.
The possibility of an American Renaissance exists only in the hands of its educators at every level of the educational system. A nation that makes an enemy of its own hands and feet can do nothing but tear itself slowly to shreds. It is only through the conversion of America's silenced populations into functional, contributing and equally valued societal members that we can hope to heal our social ills and move forward as a nation into a positive, culturally thriving future. Such an American Renaissance would also have global impact.
You ask me, "Why teach?"
It is my way of registering to vote.
The issue on the ballot is the future of the world.
About Lynda Hinkle...
Lynda L. Hinkle is a freelance writer, filmmaker and graduate student in education at Rowan University, Glassboro NJ.
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