What is taught in our local schools is the capacity of individual students to make the American Dream a valuable belief.
We were looking back at the Harlem Renaissance, when blacks throughout the United States were realizing the importance of their cultural contribution as part of gaining access to the American Dream. The relevance for our local students is that community values and beliefs shape our local cultural ideas. By definition, I explained, we are made up of the values that shape our beliefs and form our opinions.
In our diverse community, I asked how we share a common set of values and beliefs. We are different colors, we have different jobs and we do different things on evenings and weekends, so how do we ever share any common values or beliefs?
And then it happened. A moment when ideas and learning are suddenly linked together. Someone said: “My parents think sports and stuff are important, so I guess it’s a value we have in Craig.” I asked the class why they thought “sports and stuff” help us share a common value or belief.
Most said that it didn’t matter who you were, you could play a sport or participate in a school club or activity. Someone commented that “it’s about working hard and it doesn’t matter what color your skin is or how much money you have. You get to be rewarded for hard work and you get to see the work you do on the field or on the stage and you know you have to get it right.”
It’s weeks like this in the classroom that make me glad I’m a teacher and that kids and parents still believe in the values that make the American Dream possible.
At least, that’s what I think.