I took a set of 2nd and 3rd graders to the Newseum yesterday. The Newseum is literally a news museum. The thought of a museum focusing wholly on the news is a concept that encompasses boring in many people’s minds. But the Newseum is far from boring. In the plans, they made certain to create a place that encourages learning and that appeals to all levels of reading and understanding. It is just an awesome place.
While it is a costly museum, the good people there have joined with WTOP 103.5 and the Washington Post, to make this experience free to school aged students in the Washington DC Metro area. Yet, many educators have not utilized the opportunity. Why is it that we do not see the importance or relevance in making certain that our students understand about the freedoms that we are able to exercise in America regarding the press? Why do we keep them ignorant?
When we walked into the museum, one of the workers noticed us – and immediately pointed out how young and orderly the kids were (keep in mind that I spent weeks drilling them on how to behave and threatening them with what would happen if they embarrassed me, themselves, and the school). I thanked her for the compliment and proceeded to give the students and chaperones the instructions and itinerary for the day.
While there, we witnessed school groups of other students behaving like wild monkeys straight out of the wild. One child threw a jacket from the 5th floor to the concourse level. I shook my head and then began to rant about all that I would do if one of my students EVER considered doing such an asinine thing. But, I didn’t need to because they already had mortified looks on their faces when they saw the jacket go flying. When I say my kids are bad, I always need to remember that they have no clue what bad really is.
So, while everyone was wrapping up in the gift shop, I took a walk. While on the concourse level, I ran into the lady who had greeted us at the beginning of the trip. She began to speak to me and inquire about my students. She asked where we were from, how did I hear about the Neweum, and then expressed that she was so impressed that I was 1. knowledgeable about the Newseum, and 2. interested in bringing a bunch of young black kids to this place.
I say all of this to say, people are watching our young black kids – and placing labels on them before they open their mouths. People don’t often expect much from these children – and often times, our children behave to their expectations. Educators, can I compel you to revert back to the olden days? Let’s teach these kids to have pride in the way they carry themselves, so that they can show the world that they are not victims of their environments, they are simple there for a short stint.