My name is S V and I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. My education autobiography started with home schooling until kindergarten. At this preliminary stage of my education life. My grandmother was a teacher’s assistant at PS 304 in Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn. She believed education starts at home and not in the classroom. She would bring home assignments from her place of work and assign it to my cousins and myself at home. So by the time it was time for my cousins and me to attend school we were prepared for school. This home school program provided nurturance, which enhances continued academic maturity, as stipulated in Nodding’s Caring, a feminine approach to ethics & moral education(Noddings, 1984, p.171).
I started school in September 1983. My mother sent me to the same school my grandmother taught at. This enhanced happiness and nurturance because our grandmother was always around and the teachers and office staff already knew who I was. I never felt weird or scared about attending school there I was very comfortable. This is essential in allowing a fear free learning process for the student through collective responsibility in shaping the qualities of the student (Barnes, 1981, p. 186). At some point my mother felt that my grandmother’s school was not good enough for her daughter so she had me transferred to PS 11 in Fort Greene Brooklyn. There I met the very first teacher that I hated. It was my fourth grade teacher Ms. Sandal.
I felt that she hate me, and she made me hate going to school. Everyday school was like what am I going to get in trouble with my teacher today. She would call me mother at least once a week to complain about something. It would be from such talks too much in class. Such was chewing gum in class. Such was getting up out of her seat without permission. It just seemed like no matter what I did she found a problem with everything I did. It was as if she wanted to break me and see my fail. I felt that she wanted me to get left back. As if it was her mission to make me not want to continue my education, taking her class made me want to drop out of school in the fourth grade. All the trouble I was getting into in her class caused me to have problems at home. But with the type of parents I had I was going to finish school and dropping out was not an option.
I felt as if Ms. Sandal had a personal issue with me that had nothing to do with teaching. I started to think that she was a prejudice white teacher in an all-black elementary school. Where I went to school there were not a lot of kids that look like me. For some reason everyone thought I was mixed with white because I was should a light skinned black girl in an all-black school. I felt that when the kids and teachers saw my mother whom is a brown skin African American woman. They just assumed that my father was white. Not knowing my father was a light skinned Jamaican but on the flip side my dad was even darker than me. In Ms. Sandal’s class the other kids would tease me and call me white nigga. She would once say to them that they should not say these things to me. I think that is just want she thought of me herself.
Even though I was doing so poorly in Ms. Sandal my grandmother would have schoolwork for me when I would get home from school. My grandmother felt that there were things that I needed to know for the fifth grade that I was not getting. At that age I hated my grandmother for working in the school I would pray to GOD and ask him why you have given me a grandmother that works in a school. Don’t I get enough work in school and now I have to come home and do more work. Now that I am older I thank GOD for my grandmother because I probably would not have finished school. I find that in my adult years and having kids of my own if you don’t learn certain curriculum in each grade to go with you to the next you cannot do the work in the next grade.
When I got to the fifth grade I had a teacher named Mr. Jackson. He smelled like cigarette and coffee. He was a civil rights activist that became a teacher. He told us that he became a teacher because he felt that the white teachers where not teaching our children properly. He was the type of teacher that made learning fun. The appreciation for the teacher was a genesis of greater happiness in my academic experience at the time. Discipline was paramount, which contributes greatly to a smooth learning process (Woodrow, 2005, p.6).He did not take any crap from his students he know how to control his class. Mr. Jackson also did not make you feel stupid for not knowing answers to a question. He would tell us that there is no wrong answer but we need to work together as a whole to get the right answer.
He would do things like if we had a math lesson we would work it out together in class as a whole. He treated every student equally. This is what Paulo Freire refers to a just society and education system that offers equal attention to every student (Freire, 2000, p. 74). So if you didn't know the first, second, third or fourth step you could figure it out and see how other students would get the answer. Unlike Ms. Sandal yelling at you that the answer is wrong and asking a student that she liked to “show the classes how to get the right answer because these students do not know how to do it”. Isn’t she the teacher not the student?
When I finished elementary school with Mr. Jackson I was I was looking forward to going to junior high school, high school and even college. I thought about how Mr. Jackson showed me that all teachers are not bad. Just because you get one bad teacher you should not get discourage from achieving your goal.
I used the survey given in Ideas and Events that Have Shaped Education in the United States, Chapter 3 reading and found that I follow an existentialism way of teaching. This is so true about me because this is the way that I always have thought. I constantly ask myself, why am I here? What is my purpose? Have I reached the fullest potential that I can achieve? I realize that this is the real me. Like Maxine Greene I am full of "wide-awareness". I am individually free. I ask my own questions and come up with my own conclusion. I don’t take what someone has told me as the final answer. I take the information that they have given me and come up with my own solution. What they may say is not always right. I do this because I have learned just because someone may put on a good show and are very convincing to make you think they are right. I need to see for myself.
Barnes, P., Mackinnon, D., Woodhead, M., Woods, P., Swann, W., Bell, R., et al. (1981). Contemporary issues in education. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed (30th anniversary Ed.). New York: Continuum.
Noddings, N. (1984). Caring, a feminine approach to ethics & moral education. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Woodson, C. G., Scott, D. M., & Franklin, V. P. (2005). The mis-education of the Negro: With a foreword by V.P. Franklin. United States: ASALH Press.