black history, Nightjohn [Hardcover Educational Edition]: New Longman Literature New Longman Literature 11-14 Sarny slavery African American black school Black History Month racism equality, slavery racism, Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe Beloved Toni Morrison gothic
Here is the link to the blog from which I have used an image as my featured image. This blog is written by “a fugitive from the neo-American plantation” as gives more detail on the subject of slavery.
(Continuing on from my previous post ‘The End is Nigh’ on teaching my current work experience in a school)
So there’s this extremely passionate English teacher, Miss K, at the school I’m gaining my work experience (for the one year Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)) and I see her and I’m shown the kind of love I need to teach. She was told me that I should teach if I enjoy working with kids, otherwise I shouldn’t.
As of now, Plan B remains Plan B.
Plan A remains TBC but that’s why I’ve decided to take a year out. It’s my chance to take time out of studying, think, plan and search for other career and simply to have fun. I’ve denied myself any fun for the past 3 years, and only when I came to my 3rd and final year did I realise that I’ve led a pretty boring life. As a young person who was born and bred in London, I feel like a total lemon for taking things too seriously when what I needed was a balance between study and work.
Well, my studies are almost coming to an end and I’ve been looking for the next best thing to inspire me.
Which brings me back to Miss K. I thought that by being a teacher I could shape and change minds, just like how my teachers did. I still believe that’s possible for any teacher. But the story I’m about to tell about Miss K is truly inspirational.
There was an incident about 2 months ago between two students. I’m not sure about the race of one boy, but the ‘victim’ was black. The black student was called a nigger by the other student. Once Miss K had heard of this she was furious. She made sure the boy was given the highest punishment and she went even further; she requested for a particular book to be put on the syllabus for the years 7, 8 and 9: Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen (1993)
Nightjohn (1993) [Hardcover Educational Edition]: New Longman Literature (New Longman Literature 11-14)
This book is a fictional account from the point of view of an African American slave girl named Sarny. She is taught to read and write by another slave whom she calls Nightjohn, whose name is John. Although it is fiction, the tales of the torture that the slaves underwent by their masters are eye openers to the suffering of a race that generations later still haunt them.
Miss K specifically asked for this book because of how persuasive and honest the stories are. The narrator is a 12 years old slave who tells her tale woe very frankly. It pulls at your heart and conscious, and this is what Miss K wanted her students to feel. She herself is a white woman, and she is determined to make sure her students understand that racism is a crime and stems from an ideology that should have died long ago. Although we live in a multicultural society, people are still ignorant of differences in culture, religion, tradition and so on.
Miss K is re-educating a generation whom we all thought were accepting of these differences, but clearly we still have some way to go before such names have been completely taken out of any child’s vocabulary.
When Miss K told her how strongly she felt about this story being a means of enlightening the children after the racial incident, I thought ‘Wow. That’s what I’m talking about! She may not be a person in authority, she’s just a teacher, but she made it her business to ensure that she uses her job to educate children in a way to bring them all together.
I admire her greatly and I don’t know what the future holds for me (teaching or otherwise), but one thing’s for certain. If I do teach, I want to be just like Miss K.
Here are a few books about the slave trade:
Title: Things Fall Apart
Author: Chinua Achebe
Publisher: Penguin Classics
I read this book back when I was taking my GCSE’s. It’s a powerful book. Achebe is definitely to look out for. His characters’ are vivid and his narrative takes you on a journey through a time that you never thought you could access before: the beginning of colonialism.
Author: Toni Morrison
This was read for the purposes of exploring the gothic genre. Morrison does this really well. Till the very end you are left puzzled and wondering long after you’ve closed the book. It’s not easy to forget.