A BOOK FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS AND PARENTS
Vignettes from thirty years of teaching in the inner city of Chicago
Chalk Talk is filled with anecdotes or memorable moments from Lawrence (Larry) McCarthy's three decades of his teaching at Dett Elementary School in Chicago. They come from notes taken at the time of occurrence or from reflecting on the impact they have had on the author that have lingered in his memory back since his retirement in 1999. "So, I am going to deposit them here instead," he says.
"So many children entered our classrooms with so much what I choose to call baggage," the author points out. "Yet the families they came from are as varied as the families we teachers ourselves came from. As teachers, it was our duty to leave our baggage at home so we could be professional educators to all of the students facing the chalkboard behind us. Unfortunately, some of us brought their baggage to the classroom and even included it in our lesson plans. Or, worse yet, we transferred some of our baggage to some of our students."
This brings forth a point I felt throughout my thirty years of teaching in what we used to call "the inner city," McCarthy insists. "If teachers were uncomfortable in a specific school or district because of personal racial or ethnic conflicts, then they should not have been a teacher there. They should have taught elsewhere, or (maybe preferably) gotten themselves into a different profession. How can we teachers teach our students if we don't see them as part of our own family or the larger human family? Of course, we can't."