Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Those Working Together Don't Always Have the Same Goals

I've done a fair amount of work with urban youth, most of whom were black. I've worked with elementary school kids near Philadelphia, with middle school kids from the Midwest, and high school kids at my field placement for teacher observation. Several people have worked with me at one or more of these places, and a few have even worked with me at all three. However, I don't know if we all actually have the same goal.

You see, I want to work with kids from the city. Part of that is because my dad grew up in the poorest part of New York City, and it was because he was able to visit some family friends in Texas that he realized how much more there was to the world than the slum where he lived. Another part is because I have very little interest in working with either suburban or rural kids; they need help and love, too, but that's not where I am inclined to go. Only four percent of those in teacher certification programs said that they wanted to teach in urban schools; it would seem to be a relatively specialized calling. I don't care if the kids are black, hispanic, white, asian, or what (if we're not going to capitalize "black" or "white," we shouldn't capitalize "Asian" or "Hispanic" when used racially). I listen to very little rap on my own, don't care very much about professional sports, and don't really like playing basketball.

There are other reasons why people work the places where I do. Some people simply like working with and ministering to black people. Others simply want to work with disadvantaged kids, wherever they're from. I don't say that my motivation is any worse or better than those or others I haven't thought about. However, it's important to figure out what your and others' motivations are for doing what you're doing. Tweak one variable of a given place, and one or more of the mindsets will want to work elsewhere.

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