Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cultural Differences

Friday was an interesting experience here in the Delta. I really struggled with an experience I had this past basketball game.

We were playing a tough game against a local team when the crowd really starts to get in to it. One of my players plays pretty rough and pushed a player. Naturally she got a foul and I took her out of the game to calm down. Well, unfortunately the parents of the other team did not want to let her calm down, and started cussing at her and yelling pretty inappropriate things.

My player started to cry and got really frustrated. At the end of the game she walked out and didn't slap any hands. Some woman decided that this action was not allright and decided to ambush my players and starting "fighting" and cussing. It was pretty embarrassing for her right?

Man, I was like what are you doing woman? She swung her arm at me, she was cussing, she was throwing arms and hands in people's faces. She was CRAZY...and it was all over a basketball game that her kid was not even participating in!

People were floored that I didn't hit her back, didn't cuss her out, etc. This is where my struggle stems from. You know, I can control what happens in my classroom, what happens at basketball, what happens on school campus...but you can not control what happens at home for these kids. I think about them fighting and them wasting their lives away with so much anger and it really disturbs me.

But, after an experience like that the problem is clearly not stemming from personal issues - it has now become a cultural issue. I mean really, how can we expect our students to not fight and have these anger issues when their parents and guardians are doing the exact same thing.This parent was so uninvolved in the incident that it was MIND BLOWING that she could have these reactions. I was floored.

When we move down here and make this "positive impact" on these kids it's great, right? And yes, for years there will be more and more of us working towards positive change. But how much change can we cause when these issues happen at every public event that we have...and it's not even the kids who start it! Culturally, we don't replace people. Teachers yes, role models yes, friends yes, but this kind of change will take decades...because its been happening for decades already.

Sometimes I feel like these kids would be GREAT when integrated into more mainstream cities. But, really I would be nervous that they would fall into the same patterns they have developed here in C, HG, and the surrounding areas. Can they bring their beliefs, attitudes, and actions to the "big time" city? Probably not with success. And this is a debilitating thought for me. I can prepare them academically, even maybe a little bit psychologically, but really --socially and professionally some of the actions that are "mainstream acceptable" here would cause immediate termination from many places I have worked at in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

This is such an interesting paradox to have added in the past few weeks. My students make significant gains in the classroom-but unless coupled with improvements in their sociability and cultural awareness, they will not survive when moving into a different area of the United States.


  1. The way I deal with things I probably would've cried in my car on the way home.

    Sorry you had to have that happen after your game!

  2. This is so true, CBB. When I think of how my kids act in my classroom I can only be sad about what it is they're learning at home. They are in fourth grade and they are already so filled with hatred, and hatred can only be learned. Today I was teaching them about reacting appropriately to things and I said, it is never ok to hit someone and I almost started laughing because just this morning 6 kids were paddled "on my behalf" for their behavior in my classroom. It is such a vicious cycle and it's so depressing to think about how these kids are going to turn out in 10 years if at age 9 they're already stealing, cussing each other-and me- out, and just generally rude. The culture of the Delta needs to change and there is only so much we can do.