Fifty minutes isn’t enough…

In setting up our reading of The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, I gave my students a little background on her and the time in which the book was written. I was even able to insert a clip from VH1′s “I Love the 70s – 1970″, which kept them awake until I could get to this:

The ensuing discussion, “Does racism still exist?” was fascinating proof that a 50min class period is no good for any real learning.

I needed a lot more time. We needed a series of follow up questions a mile and a half long (if not longer.) But what I was able to get to after giving them some time to watch the tumble weed blow through the classroom, was that race and racism is something we each contribute to without trying or asking to. We get privilege or are denied privilege, without earning or deserving either.
Big stuff. Hard stuff. Difficult stuff, Especially if you’re only 15 or 16. I hope though, as we continue this discussion in the context of Ms. Morrison’s first novel, that they realize that they need to start to think about it now.

This coming week we are starting to pilot a couple of days a week of double periods. I will have 90mins straight with each of my classes, and I am beyond excited about what I can do as far as having a good discussion. I’m dying to hear what they have to say about whether or not Pecola Breedlove could achieve the American Dream.

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