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September 22, 2012


I went to Miss Porter's School, and while we had some students from a program like that, and some local day students (like me), who were the daughters of doctors and not millionaires, I'm guessing that still 90%+ were of the millionaire-class. I know of what you speak.

So I'll just point out that when you teach those millionaire-daughters critical thinking, when you give these kids an ethical framework and an awareness of race and class and ethnicity and gender inequities, you are both doing them a huge service, and doing the world a huge service.

Because those girls will grow up, and will either run the world or marry the men who run the world, and either way, we need them as many of them as possible to be thinking clearly and compassionately.

(All that said, good on you for the volunteering too. :-)

Mary Anne, I really appreciate your comment, and this is indeed what I try to teach my students on a regular basis and what I try to comfort myself with. And there are FGS alums who are doing very good things in the world. But there are also many alumnae who are clearly sailing through the world with a blithe assumption of privilege, and it's easy to lose confidence that one is having much of an effect.

Obviously the answer is that one reaches some but not all students, and that would be the case wherever I was teaching!

Some version of what she said above is why i actually don't feel guilty about where I teach. I do think our students are probably a tier down the socio-economic ladder from yours. We aren't that expensive as far as that goes and I think 37% receive some form of financial aid. But there are some children of millionaires in the mix and even without that, these are pretty well off white kids. But yeah, i think it's doing the whole world a service if I help shape them to be ethical men and women who can think critically.

I love tutoring. I haven't done it since having kids of my own, but once DC2 is older I hope to get into it again.

My son's private school is only 8K/year and is mostly middle-class with a lot of diversity (especially mixed race kids). My sister's was a wide range and included a lot of first generation Latinas on scholarship who took the train in from the big city. The public residential charter I went to for high school had the same racial make-up as the state and had a large range of SES among the students.

I love the opportunities these schools can give students who seek these opportunities or whose parents seek these opportunities. I wish public schools weren't so over-burdened, but I also feel like it's possible to "save" a few kids via scholarships in my lifetime, whereas completely reforming the public school system is beyond me. The program you're volunteering for sounds like a wonderful one.

We have several different scholarship programs that bring students from lots of different backgrounds, plus we have a pretty sizable number of students on financial aid, including my own! Everyone comments on the diversity of our school. But I hear you on feeling like a cop out for teaching where I do, but a) not certified and feeling too old to go back and get certified, and b) very few programs in my field. My field leans very, very male, so I feel good about providing opportunities for young women to study CS. I have at least one scholarship student in my class, and I enjoy working with her in an area I know she wouldn't have the opportunity to at a public school. Yes, there are things I have to overcome that I don't with other students, but other students present different obstacles as well.

Because I'm active in advocating for wornen entering my field, I don't think I could invest more time volunteering, but what a great idea!

That sounds like a fabulous program in which you can volunteer and help out others. And you have to let us know if, upon review, you did indeed read The Giver before!

I have felt many of these feelings before too, especially as I have many public school educators in my family. My school extends financial aid to 30% of our student body, and I like to think that teaching in an all-girls school is a feminist mission too, along the lines of what Maryanne is saying. But I'd also like to get involved in tutoring like you are doing. I made some inquiries this summer to an organization that does college application help for a similar population, but didn't get very far. Must keep trying....

You are awesome and inspiring.

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Who is this What Now?

  • I'm an English teacher at Fabulous Girls' School (FGS). I'm a convert to Judaism. I am partner to D. We live in an adorable, messy little house in Adventure City. Two cats -- the Muse and the Contemplative -- live with us and keep life at home plenty adventurous.

    Email me at whatnowblogger at yahoo dot com.

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