Identifying with the People We Serve—Exploring Similarities and Difference

Theme

Crisis and ConflictRace, Ethnicity and CultureRoles and BoundariesTeaching and Learning

Audience

Service & VolunteerismState Service Commissions & National ServiceEducationHigher EducationTeachers' Inquiry Project

Resource

Theme for English B

Author

Hughes, Langston

Big Questions

How does race affect our relations to others?How far should we go in trying to identify with those we serve?What are the greatest obstacles to teaching and learning?

Opening Activity

Imagine you’re in a classroom and I’m the instructor and I ask you to write a page and let that page come out of you and then it will be true.  Whatever questions you have, include them.

Discussion Questions

  1. Just to get started, a foundation, how would you describe the speaker and his situation? What do you know about him? What do you not know about him?
  2. The assignment – having just done a bit of it yourself, any sense of the use/purpose of it? Why might the instructor give this assignment? What’s it like?
  3. How does the speaker respond to this assignment? What is he learning, if anything?
  4. Will "my page be colored" - Who is this question addressed to? What does the speaker mean by it?
  5. I’m "a part" of you, you’re "a part" of me... What’s he trying to say here? In what way are they a part?
  6. Why does the speaker say he doesn’t want to be a part of the instructor?
  7. Stepping away from the poem…How does your page relate to his – what’s similar or different?
  8. Thinking of your own students, and the similarities and differences between your backgrounds/experiences -- How do you learn about the similarities and differences?
  9. What are the challenges you face in being similar or different from your students? How do you navigate those to be effective?
  10. How do you understand your role in relationship to these similiarities/differences? Are you a part of them? Are they a part of you?

Closing Activity

What's one question left lingering in your head after this discussion?

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