I would just like to take a moment to personally thank Mark Twain. Mark the beautiful, Mark the hilarious, Mark the magnificent Samuel Langhorne Clemens Twain. See, I’m starting Tom Sawyer with my kiddos today and I’ve been a bit apprehensive about it. If you know anything about my school and my students, this should not surprise you.
I work in a low-income school in a rough neighborhood. My kids are a challenge. I love them, and I choose to be here, but its tough. And Tom Sawyer deals strongly with racism and as a white girl (the only white person in the room for most of my classes) it becomes… tricky to approach the topic. Like, it was tricky before all of the recent race related riots and movements, and now, in an ever increasingly divided nation, it becomes even more tricky.
This is all on top of the fact that getting my kids interested in a book at all is like trying to rip out their own eyelids. BUT. Tom Sawyer’s first chapter begins with a redneck kid ditching school and charming his way out of trouble, then getting into a fight with a snooty rich kid. I of course assumed they would find it amusing, but my kids – my kids are totally into it. I guess I probably should have known, but my gosh they love it.
All of this is to say that things never change. My kids may feel like some fresh horror
on many days, but Mark Twain knew. He understood kids in a way that I think we forget. Kids are kids. They like humor and getting out of trouble and playing hooky and getting scrappy. So as much as we try to keep up with this new generation, we can’t even forget that kids will always be kids. At the heart of it, kids want to just have a childhood. I hope that in the midst of how hard school can be and what a tumultuous world we live in, we can give our kids a chance to be what they really are.
That is all.