Black and White Hands

February 22, 2023 –

My cousin, an elementary school teacher, loves her job. She is careful about what she does and says to her students. The children express themselves more freely. Often their ideas are out of the box and show keen insight.  

She tells the following story. The classroom teacher has a lot of responsibilities. I accept that responsibility. I went to school to study and prepare to be an elementary teacher. Each day, I look forward to helping mold the minds of my students.

When I was at college, I posted a saying by Ben Franklin on my corkboard. It was my goal to live with his words, “Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn.” My end game is to involve the students in the fundamental points of the learning lesson.

One day after class was over, I walked one student out of the class. I held the hand of a seven-year-old black student. He said to me, “you and I are different.”

I wasn’t prepared for this. But I knew, inevitably, one day the subject of race would come up. Before I could speak, he said, “Your hands are bigger than my hands.”

With that, he ended the discussion.

It’s always hard to explain why young people understand the solution and don’t even know the problem. While we adults know the problem and have no solution.