Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Class Discussion

Joseph and Rudy Disney.


Oh, I just can't wait to be awake enough to put together this post... The topic in my tenth grade class this week is "alternative families" and I chose to focus on adoption as a common American variation on the traditional "Mother-Father-Birth Child" model. 

I'm actually following the textbook, but "breaking out" a bit on my own. I started off the lesson by having the students listen to Stephanie Disney's "This I Believe" essay for the NPR program; please click on the link and listen to her! She's amazing!  I loved her essay in which she addresses how she responds to others' questions about her adopted multi-racial daughter.

This topic touches on so many "hot" issues among my students... They can't really even fathom adoption, not mention adoption of a child whose race is obviously not the parents'...

I walked out of class today with goosebumps, on a literal high. I could tell that no one had ever even presented these ideas to my students, other than the pictures they've seen of the Jolie-Pitt family. They truly couldn't fathom that a "normal" family would consider doing the same... 

Tomorrow (well, today... It's already 1 a.m.) we'll continue the discussion and I just--can't---wait. I've printed out an article I found about adoption within Russia by Russian parents and I'm so eager to talk about it with them...

I'm really hoping that I can get students to join me in working with a charity I support here in Moscow that provides much assistance to orphans... There are already a few that have expressed interest. 

When it's not the middle of the night, I'll write up the most interesting points of our discussion. What they had to say sheds a lot of light on why the plot of Russian orphans is as bleak as it is... And it left me with a lot of hope about how societal attitudes could change for the better.

7 comments:

Tina in CT said...

If you have a moment, give me a call after you're home from school as I am interested to hear about the students' reactions/discussions.

Rachael said...

Yes, I can't wait to hear more about this too!

Tami said...

What an awesome idea!!! I can't wait to hear how the discussion goes. If you need anything just let us know.

Anonymous said...

This is a good example of the power of what Banks (1993) refers to as transformative intellectual knowledge.
Transformative knowledge, among other things, provides conceptual tools for addressing conditions that oppress and exclude people and communities, particularly those from historically oppressed groups.

Cindy Niles said...

Good for you! Doesn't seeing the light bulb being turned on give you a thrill? Keep up the good work. And thanks for the lead on the Russian fabric! Cindy Niles

Annie said...

Amazing! I got into a discussion not long ago on a different blog with a Russian man who was concerned about the genetic problems my children would have. Well....to my surprise I really HAVE come to have a much stronger awareness of genetic differences via adopting. It is truly amazing for me to see young minds adept at math, for example (very unlikely to come from my husband and me). It is delightful to see young bodies with long, lean muscles - not genetically related to ME, that's for sure! Of course your biological children surprise you too, but you can "see where it comes from" for the most part.

But, genetic "problems" I really don't see. Predispositions, perhaps. But the genetic predispositions that my biological children had could have turned ugly, too, had we not tried to bend their young branches in the right direction.

Anyway, I'm wondering if the "bad genes" theory is more universal in Russia than here.

Here in the US there is also some prejudice against adopting older [US] children (one I tend to hold myself) but not because of nature, rather fear of the nurture/lack thereof that I tend to think makes a much greater difference.

Awaiting more!!!

Carolynn and Steve said...

I'm with everyone else here...this does sound fascinating! And so glad to hear that the kitty is doing well!