“Don’t show your mom.”
Kids, that’s the sound your teacher makes when she realized she just made a big, fat mistake.
A middle school teacher in Florida was fired after giving her sixth-grade class a handout titled, “How Comfortable Am I?” — then immediately trying to get it back from them.
The handout quizzed students on their comfort levels in various (super-inappropriate and racist) situations. There were 40 questions about gender, religion, sexuality and race — each requiring the student to rate how “comfortable” they would be in the scenario. We seriously can’t pick our favorites (and by “favorites,” we mean “most horrifying”). Top contenders are:
Your new roommate is Palestinian and Muslim.
A Native American student invites you to attend a Pow-wow with him. (!!!)
Your brother’s new girlfriend is a single mother on welfare.
Your mother “comes out” to you.
This was for a class called “The Leader in Me” in which the kids were (ostensibly) learning to be aware of innate privilege and unconscious bias in society. That’s a good concept for a class for sure, but the tone-deaf teacher missed the mark by a mile. Maybe a hundred miles.
Students reported being dismayed by the questionnaire, which was clearly skewed toward college students with references to bars and RAs and professors and minority scholarships. File this under “WTF Was This Teacher Thinking?”
Tori Drews, a student in the class, said, “There were children saying this is wrong. ‘Why are we doing this? Does this have a reason?’ [The teacher] was going, yeah this is kind of wrong… maybe I should take it back.” Note to all teachers: There are no takesy-backsies with handouts.
Drews continued, “Kids were asking if they could share it with their parents. She was like, ‘No. Don’t show your mom. Don’t take that home. I’m taking it back up.’”
The teacher in question managed to collect her unfortunate handouts, but not without a few making their way home to shocked parents. (Of course.)
We definitely agree, but we hope the school doesn’t bag the class completely. There are lessons in bias and privilege that sixth graders could sorely use — but this is a lesson in exactly how not to go about it.