Thursday, February 23, 2012

“I never saw Mr. .38 but the idea of a loaded gun being pointed at my head by a woman who thought the Yamacraw people were out to get her made my stomach do handstands and somersaults.”

              In chapters seven and eight my dislike for Mrs. Brown expands and grows even more. The more I read about the way in which Mrs. Brown runs her classroom and beats the children with her whip, the angrier I become and the more I loathe this character. Mrs. Brown idealistically in her mind would like to be a white man. Conroy says in reference to Mrs. Brown, “There was something very wrong in the fact that a black woman in 1969 cast her lot with white men whose thoughts and actions dated back to 1869.” This statement is depicted not only in Mrs. Brown’s method of treating the children and punishing them with the whip and by embarrassing and humiliating them in front of everyone but also the way she talks about them. She does not want to see the children excel and succeed. All of the children despise Mrs. Brown.
                The system of hierarchy in the school system kind of resembles the backwards ways of Mrs. Brown. Nothing is getting done unless Conroy goes directly to Dr. Piedmont because everyone seems to be so intimidated and under his control that they are too scared to say something that might offend or make him mad in order to induce needed change in the schools. Conroy has a hard time going on field trips, getting change for the school, and the conflict we see at the end of chapter eight, negotiating his travel expenses because of the chains of command he has to go through that are not willing to help. Chapter eight exhibits many frustrations for Conroy but he does not let the system or Dr. Piedmont intimidate him. I really like that he goes after what he thinks the children deserve and that he is really passionate about the children’s future and well being. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

“I considered Yamacraw a touchstone: if the Yamacraw children knew about it, then the chances were excellent that the vast majority of American children had been reached.”

              “I considered Yamacraw a touchstone: if the Yamacraw children knew about it, then the chances were excellent that the vast majority of American children had been reached.” This sentence stood out to me when they were having a discussion about the movie, The Wizard of Oz. The children on Yamacraw Island do not appear to know about many things that many other American children that live off the Island know. 
                Building off of that quote, in my opinion, the children of Yamacraw Island probably do not know numerous things because they have not had the experiences to go along with the material they need in order to learn and relate to. The children are stuck in the classroom and do not get out to have experiences and learn from and build on them. Conroy’s Halloween escapade seemed like a huge step in chapter six. The children were allowed to leave the island for probably the first time in their lives and participate in Halloween with the white children. The opposition against this trip upset me. Mrs. Brown hassles Conroy all the time that he needs to teach the children the material and not play around, but in reality she’s the one denying her student of life experiences to learn from and make connections. Conroy even writes, “I knew for a fact that Mrs. Brown and Miss Glover both believed that education as best served in the cramped environs of the classroom, that both of them made a vast distinction between learning and recreation, that both of them felt that education and the leather strap went together like whiskers and catfish, and that both of them thought the trip was a welcome vacation, but not an experience that could be counted as having furthered the name of education.” Mrs. Brown’s and Miss Glover’s teaching philosophies greatly differ from Conroy’s in this manner. Even if Conroy doubts whether or not the Halloween trip made a difference and whether he is making a great difference, it is a start that the children have never had.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

“She was a poetess of profanity, an oracle of epithets who could outcuss a bathroom wall.”

                The difference in the relationship and personality of the people Conroy came to know in this chapter really stood out to me. The two families that I mainly noticed a comparison and yet such a huge contrast between was the Stone family and the Skimberry family. The Skimberrys consist of a black husband and a white, blond haired wife as well as two children, whereas the Stone’s consist of a white husband, a white wife, and a white son. The Skimberry family lives modestly and gets by on Zeke Skimberry’s janitor salary while the Stone family has the most power on the island and is wealthy because they are in charge of most of the jobs on the island. What struck me about the Skimberrys was their unpretentiousness and acceptance of Conroy into their lives and people in general. In chapter four Conroy writes regarding the Skimberrys, “They instinctively liked all people but had been conditioned to dislike and depreciate blacks.”  Ironically, Zeke Skimberry is black and his children are half black. This seems to be a common theme on the island however, the Stone’s degree of hate, especially Tim’s, extends to violence and genuine hatred and anger towards black people. This hatred and anger towards not just black people but anyone who doesn’t agree with the same ideas as him, is clearly evident when Conroy comes over to watch the news with him, and Stone goes on a rant about the “lice” of the world and how they all need to be dead and rid of. I think that Tim Stone lives on Yamacraw Island because he has the most power there and is in charge of basically everything on the island and is allowed to be in charge without question. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Christ must do a lot of puking when he reflects upon the good works done in his name"

The quote that stood out the most in chapter three came from a paragraph in which Pat Conroy is discussing how a white preacher from a church on the mainland that had donated books to the school would come to the island to give a sermon on Sundays. Ironically, if a black person were to step foot in his church, it would be closed down automatically. At the end of the paragraph Conroy writes, “Christ must do a lot of puking when he reflects upon the good works done in his name.” I found this sentence insightful because many people during that time and even before that time used religion as a platform to make themselves feel justified that what they were doing was right by manipulating what the Bible says. This sentence calls out those people out on their false beliefs.
The difference in the amount the students have learned in the amount of time they have learned the material is astonishing to me. I do believe their lack of knowledge was based on prior teacher’s lack of faith and belief that they were capable of learning and growth. It could also be the teacher’s teaching style. Either way, it seems to be prior teacher’s own laziness and lack of faith in their students. Mrs. Brown for example, believes in a strict classroom setting complete with whips and requiring children to sit in their seats and be quiet, but students that have risen from her class to Mr. Conroy’s class know practically nothing. She often says it is because they are lazy or just “retarded”. Mr. Conroy does not take these as excuses and does not use the same methods of teaching that are obviously not working in Mrs. Brown’s classroom. One of the forefront problems with the students at the Yamacraw Island schools is the common belief that they are dumb and lazy by everyone. It appears that no one has ever really put forth a real effort and treated them like real children that have ability to learn. I feel like everyone treats them as if they are wild animals that are incapable and that were made to go to school. The growth that has already occurred among the students is astounding to me because they had that potential all along and could have progressed so much further if just one teacher that had come through had tried harder to teach them in a way they could learn and grow.