Adult ed­u­ca­tion class leads to child­ish be­hav­ior

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - COFFEE BREAK - AMY DICK­IN­SON

DEAR AMY:

I teach an adult ed­u­ca­tion class in a very cul­tur­ally, ra­cially and eth­ni­cally di­verse com­mu­nity.

One of my (for­eign-born) stu­dents has re­cently brought to my at­ten­tion some very neg­a­tive and hurt­ful com­ments she has re­ceived from an­other of my stu­dents.

She says this other stu­dent has said to her, “Why are you here?” “Aren’t you lucky we are so ac­cept­ing of you?” and other com­ments like this.

What can I do? Should I speak to the per­pe­tra­tor pri­vately? Should I ad­dress the whole class?

What can I say or do? What can she say?

— HOR­RI­FIED

DEAR HOR­RI­FIED: You should speak to the per­son your stu­dent al­leges said th­ese things to her. Th­ese are ques­tions/state­ments that might seem be­nign -- or ag­gres­sive -- de­pend­ing on the tone of voice and body lan­guage, as well as the na­tive lan­guage and in­ter­pre­ta­tion of both par­ties.

Ask this stu­dent why they felt the need to sin­gle out a fel­low stu­dent. Lis­ten to what­ever ex­pla­na­tion they have, and then em­pha­size how im­por­tant it is that ev­ery stu­dent re­spects one an­other. Tell the per­pe­tra­tor that the other stu­dent felt em­bar­rassed and of­fended, and that she is owed an apol­ogy. Tell the stu­dent that in your class, you ex­pect ev­ery­one to speak to one an­other re­spect­fully.

It is best for you to han­dle this pri­vately. If the greater les­son is about sham­ing, then you should not pub­licly call out the per­pe­tra­tor. This is a teach­able mo­ment.

I’d also sug­gest that you in­tro­duce your class to im­mi­grant nar­ra­tives (if you haven’t al­ready); and have them write and share their own per­sonal nar­ra­tive sto­ries. The more they know each other, and know about each other, the more con­nected they will feel. Em­pa­thy, re­spect and un­der­stand­ing should grow from there.

If the stu­dent re­fuses to ad­just their be­hav­ior, you should seek coun­sel from an ad­min­is­tra­tor re­gard­ing next steps.

DEAR AMY:

Re­spond­ing to the let­ter from “In­som­niac,” who won­dered if it would be OK to sleep in sep­a­rate beds from her snor­ing hus­band, I’d like to say that my hus­band and I started sleep­ing apart two years ago.

In 24 years of mar­riage, it was the best de­ci­sion we’ve ever made. We sleep bet­ter at night, and get along bet­ter dur­ing the day.

— WELL RESTED

DEAR RESTED: I’ve had a huge (mainly pos­i­tive) re­sponse to the idea of sleep­ing separately.

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