----- Original Message ----
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 12:47:58 PM
What does the word barbarian actually mean in terms of race? A few students wrote my name next to the word barbarian. I just want to be sure that it is a negative word. Have any black ESL teachers experience subtle or blatant racism from any of your students? What do they say about your hairstyles, etc? I told the students that what doesn't kill me makes me stronger? I will just keep getting stronger!!!!
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 1:13:22 PM
hi.you've written only to me, so i assume you'd like my opinion? how old are you students? b/c they're children, we have the opportunity and the right to bully in a bit and let them know when they're wrong. the kids have never said/done anything overtly racist towards me, (at least not in english for me to understand) tho i know of other teachers who've experienced such things.
when my kids step out of line, i tell them calmly yet firmly that i am their teacher and their elder and that there is a certain way they will NOT speak to me, that they must understand boundaries and respect. i tell them that anything they wouldnt say to their mother or father, they should not say to me either. if it's just one student, i pull them aside and get close to the face, and use a low voice, firmly saying the same thing. "close tot he face" makes them listen, also scares them a bit, realize the seriousness of the situation.
as for the kids writing your name next to "barbaric" maybe, MAYBE i would use it to open discussion with them? maybe. Again, i think b/c their kids, we have the right to tell them when their wrong. they're not entitled to their own opinion, not with something like this, not when their so young. i guess i would explain to them what calling someone "barbarian" would mean to someone from america. maybe remind them that since im their teacher, i do have intelligence and education, and how that doesnt fit with "barbarian." also maybe i would explain the importance of word choice, and how what we say, which words we use, and how we say it are all important. maybe i would explain that they're insulting their teacher by calling me "barbarian and make it clear that theyre never to use such language like that again, at least, not in my class room. that's another thing i would remind them, that they're in MY classroom. remind them that i am in charge, and that they dont get to test me.
the kids DO trip out about my hair. b/c it's so curly, im often asked if i have a perm. when i i pick it out into an afro, i get even more questions. i explain that black people have curly hair, we are born with it, just as most koreans are born with straight hair.
maybe consider posting your situation in one of the groups, im sure others have had similar experiences. or maybe send an email to the rest of the seoul family. anyway, i hope ive helped if only a little bit.
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