Sunday, September 11, 2011

Opportunity

Something a student said to me on Thursday has bothered me all weekend.  He mentioned that he didn't do his homework last year, but was going to make a real effort this year to do better.  I told him that he should find a quiet environment, like his room, and do his work as soon as he got home. 

He told me he didn't have a room.

"OK," I said, "how about the kitchen table?"  You guessed it.  He doesn't have one of those either.  And he wasn't joking.  Wherever his family lives, they do not live the same way I do, and his lack of resources made me uncomfortable, followed with a strong sense of how spoiled I am. 

I then suggested that maybe he could stay after school in my room and do his work, but he doesn't have a way home because we only have late buses one day a week and teachers aren't allowed to give rides to students.  

Out of options, I gave him a sad, uncomfortable smile and changed the subject.  

I seriously take for granted all that I have.  My parents were (and stilla re) married and provided me with every opportunity to succeed, from taking the time to quiz me for history tests, to taking away my license when they found out I'd been drinking when I was only 19.  They still encourage me and help me when I need it  
In case you couldn't guess,
I'm the person here.
Still, I am left with a feeling of helplessness, for I am only one lowly person in this grand world and there is so little I can do.  My hands are tied with familial responsibilities, work, and rules.  How do we help students like the aforementioned succeed when they have so few opportunities?  The government can push national standards all they want, but how do you explain this to a kid that has no room and no kitchen table in his house? 

Why would he even care about homework when his basic needs aren't being met?

(This is where I heave a huge sigh and leave the question unanswered.  I simply don't have the answer.)
All I know is:

Beth - 0
Kid - 0
Government - 0

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