Waiting For Superman is a documentary that explores why African-American and Hispanic students tend to perform so poorly in school. This is in stark contrast to Asian, White and Jewish students who tend to excel academically.
The conclusion of the movie is that African-American students perform poorly because they lack good teachers. (The obvious other explanation is taboo to speak of in polite company).
This film reminded me of an essay written by a teacher who had experience teaching African-American kids. The essay is well worth the read.
What is it Like to Teach Black Students?
by Christopher Jackson
Until recently I taught at a predominantly black high school in a southeastern state.
The mainstream press gives a hint of what conditions are like in black schools, but only a hint. Expressions journalists use like “chaotic” or “poor learning environment” or “lack of discipline” do not capture what really happens. There is nothing like the day-to-day experience of teaching black children and that is what I will try to convey.
Most whites simply do not know what black people are like in large numbers, and the first encounter can be a shock.
One of the most immediately striking things about my students was that they were loud. They had little conception of ordinary decorum. It was not unusual for five blacks to be screaming at me at once. Instead of calming down and waiting for a lull in the din to make their point-something that occurs to even the dimmest white students-blacks just tried to yell over each other.
It did no good to try to quiet them, and white women were particularly inept at trying. I sat in on one woman’s class as she begged the children to pipe down.
They just yelled louder so their voices would carry over hers.
Many of my black students would repeat themselves over and over again- just louder. It was as if they suffered from Tourette syndrome. They seemed to have no conception of waiting for an appropriate time to say something. They would get ideas in their heads andsimply had to shout them out. I might be leading a discussion on government and suddenly be interrupted: “We gotta get more Democrats! Clinton, she good!”
The student may seem content with that outburst but two minutes later, he would suddenly start yelling again: “Clinton good!”
Essay continues at: