A former student’s email…

This is why I teach.

Hi Mr. Williams,
You might not remember me. I was in your English III AP class in the 20**-20** school year. I was also on the Roar Staff. Anyway, I’m writing to you because it took me five years to understand a comment you wrote on an essay of mine, and it feels important. I’ll explain. The first paper you assigned that year required us to define a term. I chose equality, and my conclusion was a metaphor about how equality wasn’t that everyone had equal water in their glasses but instead that everyone had a glass with equal potential to contain water. You gave me a C (my lowest paper grade ever, even to this day), and wrote at the end “not everyone has equal access to the water.”
I thought you didn’t understand my point. I railed against that comment. You misinterpreted my metaphor. You had some sort of bias. You were just plain wrong. I didn’t understand at all.
Well, now I live in Houston’s Third Ward and take the city bus twice a day every day. I think I get it. Folks can have all the glasses in the world, but it won’t stop them from dying of thirst. My point is that I think I was raised to think poor people were entirely to blame for being poor. I appreciate that you represented a different perspective to me, and I’m embarrassed that it took me this long to figure it out. Thanks for being such a fantastic teacher.

Thank you, S–.

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One Response to “A former student’s email…”

  1. Jackie Shoemake Says:

    I particularly enjoyed this post as I’m still slogging through my stack of synthesis essays the prompt of which is “Does America still provide access to the American Dream to the ‘tired, the poor, and the huddled masses’?” I have been surprised on several occasions by the ignorance and borderline prejudice expressed (perhaps unconsciously) by my students in response to this prompt.

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