Education can truly help kids think differently from what they are not being taught at home. Our kids went to LREI, a downtown NYC private school that makes diversity one of their main priorities. Diversity of race, class and socioeconomic backgrounds. The importance of inclusion regardless of where you came from is number one.
Privilege is having an advantage. Many people are just privileged because of where they come. How does an educational institution create an environment where students understand their privilege and are able to leave it at the door so that there is an even playing field in the classroom. Not easy.
When it comes to this particular issue many schools attempt to acknowledge this but LREI walks the walk and talks the talk. You can listen to the conversation here on the Brian Lehrer Show.
There is one thing that the school does for the kids in the 4’s. They break them into groups of six to go on a field trip to each of their homes. The child gives their 5 other classmates a tour of their home. Showing their friends how they each live is eye-opening. Kids at 4 don’t judge but they do understand differences. I think it is genius.
I heard about all of this over the weekend. It did not surprise me to hear how LREI continues to be creative and a leader in issues around inclusion. That was always one of my favorite things about the community and leadership in LREI.
.The entire discussion of privilege feels like a dangerous, misguided, liberal, moral tax on success. I wonder if the right approach is to diminish it or to spread it far and wide?I wonder what an “under privileged” kid feels when she goes to a rich kid’s house? Does it elevate them or does it brutalize them? Make them recognize how poor and under privileged they truly are? Reinforce the differences? Create envy and diminish hope? Foster resentment?I remember My Perfect Daughter coming home from school one day and saying, “Whoa, Dad, we have two sets of steps in our house. Know what that means?””No, My Perfect Daughter. Tell me.””We’re rich. The teacher says that having two sets of steps in one house means you’re rich Dad.””No, that’s wrong. It means Mom added a second floor on our house while I wasn’t paying attention and the only way to get to the gameroom over the garage was with a second set of steps.””Oh, that makes sense.”We have to fight the unhealthy impact of privilege without condemning our own hard work and success in the process. Spread it.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
I go with the aspiration theory of all of this. That is less privileged and motivated people see wealth as a positive and motivation “to get there” in larger numbers than those that see it as negative. The fact that Trump has the support he does bears this out. Not that I hadn’t noticed it before that of course. Rich of course is relative. Growing up rich was the guy in the neighborhood with the nicest house typically and Howard Hughes. We didn’t have exposure to so many levels and granularity of rich as we do today. I think NYC metro is actually unique in this respect because it has Manhattan. Everyone wants to get to the big city and what it represents. Also a few other areas come to mind LA, Chicago etc.
when we started at LREI 12 years ago I would have agreed they talked/walked etc–by the time we left (8th grade) I did not feel they did. Our child is not white . My kid felt a lot of pressure to be the “face of diversity” and experienced a lot of ugly behavior. I have heard from some kids that they felt there were different standards of behavior for the white kids and the kids of color–one student told me he felt that this caused a lot of divisiveness that the administration refused to acknowledge. When we left for a selective, extremely diverse public school a tremendous weight lifted off my child’s shoulders (as she said to me the first day, “mom we don’t NEED a diversity committee here!!”) I am not writing this to knock LREI– I know they try hard and it is tough at a 40K a year price tag to even have an open discussion about inclusion. I just wanted to add that sometimes “diversity” comes at a price to those who are supposed to represent. The confidence and friends and sense of self my kid acquired in a TRULY diverse environment did finally outweigh (I think!) all the private school benefits (smaller classes, WAY more music and art, more course choice etc.) BUT– I wish we could have both.
On our end my ends felt like being white and essentially privileged made it very hard for them in regards to being acknowledged at all for their work. They were never applauded as others were.
Exactly. I think we are saying the same thing. All the kids caught on to the “system” very quickly and it inevitably caused resentment on both sides. In some ways (in my experience) it made the kids very cynical.
I agree. Not sure how that changes but when it comes to the private school system you pick your poison
agreed. I wished at the time that LREI could have had a truly honest (and thus often unpleasant–with defensiveness on both sides) discourse about race and privilege. But maybe it simply isn’t possible in that environment. Going from there to public was BRACING to say the least– in good ways and bad! But there was a refreshing authenticity about those issues in her public school that my kid sorely needed
and–last post I swear!– this is exactly the kind of civil discussion I wanted to have at LREI but felt was actively discouraged in favor of very “no shades of gray whatsoever ” discussions –so thank you for that!
They want to discuss what they want to discuss.
Kids at 4 don’t judge but they do understand differences. I think it is genius.That’s interesting. My experience has always been that generally, prior to puberty, kids really don’t see the differences that money can buy. We used to joke that the kids would be equally happy swimming in a pool at the Holiday Inn in Edison NJ (never been there and don’t know if there is one) as on an exotic island. It certainly takes “less” to make them happy. And I think it’s more than just lack of appreciation (or understanding the differences) as well.Sure they might realize that a house is larger and something like that (they understand that concept) but not that it is “nice” in any particular way. Ditto for food they are happy with chicken fingers and can’t appreciate a well prepared dish and so on.My stepson (who is 14) plays for hours at a time computer games on a small LCD that is in the 4th bedroom. I am waiting for him to ask for a larger screen to play those games on. I guess they are so addicting he doesn’t care. What’s surprising is that I am sure at his friends house they aren’t playing on a 17″ screen. (I think he might be off the bell curve with this though for sure and not a good example).My daughter has lived in NYC for the past 2 years. I had to push her to go there she wasn’t aware of the differences between what NYC has to offer and the sleepy suburb where she grew up with my ex wife. Now of course she does and is very happy to be there.
At the private school that I attended in the mid 70’s (Quaker) it was the first time that I met blacks that were not the “ghetto” blacks (unfortunately for lack of a better way to put it) that were featured every night in crime pieces on the local TV station.One of my teachers was black and his father was secretary of transportation. One of my classmates father’s was with Martin Luther King when he was shot and cofounded the civil rightsmovement  Many others of course at the school as well. He is now dean of Boston College http://www.bu.edu/sed/about… His father: https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…. https://en.wikipedia.org/wi… https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…