I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of the rhetoric of help and an inquiry project based on that. I’ve been working to get a summer reading program I was asked start in my children’s school into a community center that serves the majority of our school’s 48% free and reduced lunch population. If I'm honest with myself, I assumed that the center needed my white, middle class, Phd holding “help” to make sure the children had access to the reading program.
I’ve exchanged e-mails and even met with the two folks who run it face to face. In all of these communications, both have seemed really excited about the idea. And yet, they have yet to respond to my offers to come to the center and run regularly scheduled “read-ins” over the summer.
Today, I was running a poorly attended read-in at a local business (also interested in “helping.”) I chose, The Fire Cat to read when kids got tired of reading on their own and as a book for critical discussion. I was struck by the way Pickles the cat didn’t WANT to live in Ms. GoodKind’s house. He liked his barrel. Her house was too small. He had big paws and wanted to do BIG things.
Ms. GoodKind meant well. She really wanted to “help.” But she underestimated Pickles. She slotted him into the “bless your heart, let me give you a better bed and better food” column instead of the “this soul will do great things” column at first.
So this has me pondering . . . how am I coming at this reading program thing as Ms. GoodKind?