Going to college to study education is kind of like social justice awareness training. My classes on how to teach reading and writing taught me much more about the subtle things that literature can communicate to students than I expected. I’m thankful for the great professor I had and for the opportunity to work with her on her research. I don’t turn up my nose at Disney movies, nor have I gotten rid of all my books about white people, but I do think a lot more about making sure my beautiful Latina, African, and Asian students see other people like them who are considered beautiful, smart, and successful.
Sometimes, however, kids show you that they are forging their own way to self-confidence and independence.
I have a beautiful, bubbly student from Guatemala named Diana. She has set a tone of camaraderie and fun in the two classes of beginners I have her in each day. As a fun, easy, educational activity, I assigned my students to make an “Alphabet Autobiography,” with one word that represents them for each letter of the alphabet. Diana searched on my computer for some images to add to her book. As I printed the pages for her, I saw a picture of Princess Diana and was disappointed that the princess she found didn’t look like her.
On Thursday, I heard Diana’s cascading laughter from across the room. “Look, Mrs. Jacobs!” she cried, holding up a picture she was preparing to glue into her book.
And there she was! A beautiful, Latina Princess Diana.
I wish that I could have kept the *real* beautiful Princess Diana in the picture. Since I can’t, I hope you’ll meet her someday and get to experience her exuberant, friendly personality–maybe when she’s your child’s Spanish teacher!