A Talk To Teachers Analysis

Reflecting back to my educational experience from elementary to high school, I cannot recall a single moment where I felt I had agency over my opinions or my overall education experience. I grew up in a community that places respect over anything. I was taught one simple phrase: don’t speak unless spoken to. This main value was taught at home and eventually made its way into the school curriculum. Students were taught to obediently listen to the teachers and were encouraged to ask less questions. For example, sex was (still is) a taboo topic. Whenever a student would ask questions related to sex, they would be criticized and ridiculed for entertaining such thought. These practices were enforced through physical discipline and it left many …show more content…
As a student who came from a low-income background that went through the same, but different process, it reminded me why I wanted to continue being a course assistant. From observation, I knew that I needed to not only help build their self-confidence, but to help create a way in which they could practice decolonization mentally and open rooms for their creativeness and allow them to think. In “A Talk to Teachers” James Baldwin, an African American social critic and novelist, claimed that:
The purpose of education, finally, is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions, to say to himself this is black or this is white, to decide for himself whether there is a God in heaven or not. To ask questions of the universe, and then learn to live with those questions, is the way he achieves his own identity. (James Baldwin
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One major lesson was that I was not the teacher or a person with all the answers, but merely a facilitator. I also had to check myself a few times for becoming too comfortable with my position as a course assistant. I needed to be patience and understanding of the thought process of the students for they all came from different backgrounds and that I did not know they stories. These lessons were important to be aware of for it gave me a sense of idea about the students and their behavior. I learned that what I needed the most was time and patience. These were two important components that I stumbled across. First, time was needed for students to figure things out on their own and for them to shift their frame of thinking from a high school mentality to a college framework. I knew that for some students, the transition to college wasn’t always easy. Second, as a course assistant, I needed to be patient and understanding of the student’s perspective and not try to rush them into anything. I knew from personal experience that I was not given a chance to explore my intellectual thinking because of the power dynamic in the classrooms. This was an experience that I would never want to happen to another student. Internalized oppression happens in all kinds of forms, and the process of recognizing it and shift its frame of discourse isn’t always easy. I’ve learned from my students and their learning process as

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