Monday, February 14, 2011

Student Profile: Gerald

      Diversity is something that we all have faced or will face in our life time. If you're a physical education teacher, cultural diversity is something you'll want to bring to the class. Incorporating games and ideas from different backgrounds will help students learn that there are other ways of living and other traditions other than their own. It didn't take my long to encounter my first taste of cultural diversity. It was back in the 7th grade when I met "Gerald".

      "Gerald" was an African American student that grew up in the same town as me. He lived with his grandma and grandpa along with his mother and four other brothers and sisters. Also living in his house were many cousins. His family on some weekends would make him miss football games and track meets because he played drums in the choir for the church they belonged to. I learned a lot about his family and the way they did things very quickly. Every Sunday his family would invite us to their church. We would get up and sing and dance and then after, they'd have the team over for dinner. At this dinner we would all set the table, and then pray before eating. After dinner they all sat around and told stories and just enjoyed each others company. It was different but this was a normal Sunday for "Gerald". Everyone thought "Gerald" was cool because he could somewhat rap and everyone thought he was really athletic because of his size and speed. Coaches loved him because he was always "gave 100% effort". He was a student in the resource class at school. Teachers would always tell him to do good on the soccer field but I never once heard them say anything about his school work ethic. He took advantage of his easy schedule and thought because he was "Gerald" the great soccer player/basketball star that he could get away with things. Soon "Gerald" started blaming others for problems that were beginning to arise in school. Later on in my senior year, when we were asked about college "Gerald" would tells us that he only wanted to go to college to play soccer like his brother Gary. As a friend, my fellow teammates and I would try and tell him that he needs to think about life after soccer. He was stubborn in this aspect because he would just ignore what we say and tell us we were jealous. "Gerald" would eventually be known as the african american student that was athletic and dumb. He stopped hanging out with his white friends and started making more african american friends. I was able to watch as friend and teammate how people around me that were once accepting of his behaviors and beliefs were now stereotyping "Gerald" as a typical black kid. It didn't take much for this idea to spread and the "Gerald" I once knew, quickly fell victim to stereotyping.
       It's important that we understand the diversity within our classroom and how easy it is for students who are considered "different" based on beliefs, religion, race, gender, etc. We as educators need to bring up the importance of diversity within our class and let students know that everyone is different and that some people have different ways of doing things. Having students embrace diversity, will help make them a more educated and well-rounded individuals.

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