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Monday, February 11, 2008

Two Weston students think about poverty

I love teaching in Weston. But occasionally I have to admit that some of my students are out of touch with reality. Here are two recent incidents:

The first was a conversation between two ninth-graders in the Math Office. It was held in my presence, but they were clearly talking to each other, not to me. One student was complaining about her parents’ values. “When I grow up, I’m not gonna live in a rich town like Weston. I don’t care about material possessions the way my mom and dad do. I don’t need to have a big house and a big car. I’m gonna live in a poor community.”

“You mean like Waltham?” asked the second freshman.

“Certainly not!” replied the first student in a tone of horror. “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere that’s that poor!”

The second incident occurred a couple of days ago when a sophomore came into her math class in a huff. Apparently her English class had just been discussing poverty in Compton, California — I don’t know what book they were reading, but there are several possibilities under the circumstances. My student was incensed by one of her classmates, who had actually said this:
Why do the people in Compton think they have it so tough? Life is actually much harder for us in Weston. We have all this pressure to get good grades and get into the top colleges; they don’t have that kind of stress in Compton!
I just don’t know what to say. Usually we think that the purpose of the METCO program is to “expand educational opportunities” for minority students from Dorchester and Roxbury, but maybe its main purpose is to bring the real world to white students who live all their days in the isolated, rich suburbs.

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