Friday, February 18, 2011

A Teachable Moment

What is a teachable moment? It is a connection made between a teacher and a class. The teacher can draw from his/her experiences and share. It sometimes can fail and when it succeeds it makes an impact on students.

I was assigned to subsititute for a seventh grade class in middle school. The teachers selected a film for the students to watch. It was a movie made for television based on the events of the march in Selma, Alabama in 1965. The movie depicted bigotry and violence contrasted by the marchers' non-violence. Guided by Martin Luther King, Jr. the African-American community of Selma acheived their goal for voter registration.

The team of teachers wanted the students to compose their reflections on the movie. This wasn't a film that could end and there couldn't be any follow up. Seventh grade is an excellent time to raise consciousness within students. Most of them have never experienced a denial of anything. They have been privileged and sometimes feel an entitlement.

I was privileged to share with them my insight because I was in the seventh grade when the events occured. The media brought attention to their struggle. I was attending a Catholic school then and we had the fortune of having two young nuns who made us aware of social justice. The march in Selma was discussed in class. I don't remember who was our guest speaker. He was invited to speak to the seventh and eight grade about his experience in the march from Selma to Montgomery. The only memory of that presentation was his witness of violence and looking at the reaction of one of the nuns. She was crying.

There had to have been a discussion about this film during lunch because another student from another class approached me. He wanted to know if the schools here in Connecticut were segregated. I told him now. Of course at the time my parochial school was all whites but not because of segregation.

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