How different are the school experiences of people from different ethnic/racial/class/age/gender groups?
EDU: 657- Global Connections in Education
It is very interesting to think about how different a person’s education can be depending on where he or she grows up. Even from two neighboring towns, the K-12 educational life of a student can vary widely, but at the same time, students from very diverse backgrounds can end up sharing many of the same connections in certain time periods in their education. I grew up in a small rural town of less than 10,000 people; I actually took part in the largest graduating class in the town’s history (at that point), of 100 students! Currently, class sizes in the high school now are actually back down to averaging approximately 85 students a class. My town was, and still is, not very diverse in regards to racial/ ethnic populations, but did have a wide range of economic status. It was not until I attended college, did I have multiple people from difference races and ethnicities really be a part of my everyday life.
The first individual I interviewed was a female that is just about the same age as me. Instead of growing up on a farm or in the middle of the woods like is customary in my hometown, this woman grew up in a town of approximately 17,000 people, and in a town of relative middle-class families, in Massachusetts. The woman did not remember all aspects of her educational life, but was able to recall that her classes were all predominantly to complete made up of white students, and that it wasn’t until high school that diversity started to become more common in their classrooms. Interestingly enough, the only reason high school started to increase diversity in her town, was due to the fact that the town had a program for inner-city students to have the opportunity to attend their high school as an alternative school-choice program. For being a relatively large town and everyone typically of a middle-class background, it was surprising to hear how little technology there was in the classroom. There was no traveling laptop cart, or Smartboards™ in their classrooms, everyone relied on the research lab at the library in order to do any digital work necessary for school.
The second individual I interviewed was a male in his late twenties that was born and raised in Groton, Connecticut. Groton is significantly larger than both the town I grew up in, and the town size of my first interviewee. By far the biggest difference I shared with this person is the diversity they had throughout their educational career. The town I grew up in, is extremely one-dimensional in regards to the racial breakdown of people. At one point as I was in school, my hometown was 99% white. The individual spent his K-8 years with many of the same students, most which was minority predominant students. This gave him the opportunity to meet, and become friends with many different types of students. I also found his high school career to be very interesting. I was unaware of how Fitch High School worked, and hearing how it is a mix of three towns made me think about how different our times in school for something as simple as the amount of people around. From 2nd grade to graduation senior year, it was rare for students to leave and for new students to come, so being a place with possibly a few hundred students in the same graduating class, and starting out your high school career with all new people must have been very daunting. He also did not have much technology in the classroom growing up, but did have access to some technology in the classroom depending on the room subject and grade level. Still, most research of any kind was done in the library rather than on a personal laptop in the classroom. I believe this to be representative of the time. Most schools still hadn’t grown to a 1:1 model or classroom computers for all student’s eve within the early 2000s.
Overall, it was interesting to see how much I shared in common with this two people even though all three of us grew up in different settings. Myself a small rural town, to one interviewee of a moderately sized suburb, and one interviewee of a small city of 35,000 plus. The access to diversity is really what sets us all apart. I wish in my K-12 career I had more opportunities to interact with a more diverse set of people, as I think the benefits of having those different perspectives in a classroom are immensely important for all of the people in the room.