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What’s in a name? Hate.

September 16, 2015

“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite… Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never explained.”

  • Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

I have been planning this post in my head for probably a month now. I started when I listened to Dreams of My Father by President Barack Obama. (I listened to it because I have a very long drive to work and it helps pass time to listen to books.) Two things stuck out to me while listening to his story.

  1. The idea of HATE that President Obama refers to in his book: How do we learn to hate?

So, how do we learn to hate? If you Google that phrase there are opinions upon opinions out in the world. Some people base their views on facts from child development; others blame it on a low self-esteem; some people blame it on parents and the ones who raise child; still others blame it on fear. Everyone seems to have his or her own opinion, and so do I.

I believe we learn to hate from experiences, from fear, from our parents, from our society, and most recently from the media that is constantly blasting news to children, parents, grandparents, and teachers about the hate in America and around the world.

Teachers, however are the individuals that stick out to me the most, maybe because I am one or maybe because of my current research focus. Either way, teachers are seen in our society was needing to have “values” and “education” beyond the lives of the children they are teaching.

I began teaching at a young age (as many lifelong teachers do). I officially began my teaching career (with a certificate) nearly 10 years ago. As a classroom teacher I have seen children hate. I have heard children hate. I have felt children hate through the sadness in another one’s eyes. We do learn to hate, but from where? Everywhere.

I recently finished research focusing on multicultural education in classrooms and how school administration and teachers address the “tough” “taboo” topics of multicultural education: sexuality, race, religion, gender, ability, age, etc. And what I found is uneasiness among teachers. A fear. A “if I don’t talk about it then it won’t be true.” Or “that’s not my reality so we can just skip over that.” Which, through gleaning other research, is true in many areas of the country and across grade levels in education. We cannot ignore the fact that the demographics in the United States are changing. Twenty years ago looking at the elementary students singing in front of our Presbyterian Church you would see only middle to upper class, white children. That is not the case anymore. You look up to our chancel area today and you will see maybe one white child up there singing their heart out while the other children are “children of color.” We must talk. We must listen. We must ask questions. Our society is changing and if we refuse to change with it our children will be left to fend for themselves in a world where hate is screamed at them daily.

  1. The idea that someday we will live in a world where there will be tolerance and trust despite a name.

This came to light for me, really hit home with me, when the news released the story of Ahmed Mohamed, a Muslim 14 year old boy who was exploring his creativity, investing in STEM, and created a clock— which was mistaken for a bomb by his teacher?! Teachers, wake up. Differences do not equal fear, it only creates a space to learn from each other.

Why did this hit home for me so much? Because of the name—one letter different and it’s my son’s name, Ahmad. Ahmad, Ahmed, and other variations is one of the most common names in the world, but a Muslim name. In President Barack Obama’s book, Dreams of My Father, he is quoted in saying something along the lines of his dream is to one day live in a tolerant America where a “funny name,” a Muslim name, will not determine your place in life. Sadly, we are not there yet.

Wake up. We teach hate. If we are to live a society where hate is nowhere to be found than stop with the “fear led decisions” in classrooms—yes, schools are “becoming more violent” but teachers, step up to the plate and get to know your students. Show that they are “not less than human” and we will treat them all as humans. We, as parents and teachers, will teach children to love and provide them knowledge in order to take action in a society where hate is too often taught in concealed ways through societal “norms.”

Wake up. Open your hearts. Start the conversation. Give yourself and your children a voice.


From → Education

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