In the Classroom
I am having a wonderful time teaching at St. Luke’s, a Catholic high school in Jersey City.1 I teach American history to the sophomores—five classes in all. Though my students are learning about everything from Columbus to the Civil War, I’m sure I’m learning far more than they.
One thing that has struck me from the outset is the sheltered sophistication of many of my students, who are about fifteen years old and mainly members of one or another racial or ethnic minority group. I say sheltered because many of them have never been to New York City, which is only five minutes away on the PATH train. Some have never set foot at the Statue of Liberty, a five-minute ferry ride from Liberty State Park in the middle of Jersey City. Before I made it a requirement, many had never read a newspaper, and their ignorance of the most basic current events is shocking. In my second-most-advanced class no one could identify a New Jersey U.S. Senator; the best guess was Gorbachev. Another student identified Frank Lautenberg as the deposed leader of Haiti, and yet another asked if Aristotle and Aristide were the same person.
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