In the early 1960’s, education in Providence, RI was segregated. Black children went to an all-Black school that was separate and unequal from the schools for white children. When the school building for Black children was condemned, the city of Providence was forced to close it and integrate Black children into previously all-white schools.
An article in the local newspaper described how the city of Providence had created a project titled ‘Cinderella,’ and was asking for volunteers to help “improve Black children’s academic skills.” Despite my feelings about the need for such a project—years-long educational neglect—I volunteered to work with a small group of 4th grade girls, planning to use the story of Cinderella as part of my strategy to develop their language arts abilities. I volunteered because I cared about the kids. Privately I wondered if the project would have been developed had the school for Black children not been judged too great a risk for continued use.
In 1990 I taught a seminar at an International Conference on Innovative Teaching that was held at Janus Panonius University in Pecs, Hungary. In 1991, while leading a seminar in an international program for teachers of language arts at the University of Delaware, I met one of the Hungarian university faculty members, a participant in the course. She was intrigued by what she called “my unusual teaching strategies,” using imagemaking and storymaking to teach language and persuaded her Chair to invite me to teach a similar course for graduate students studying English as a foreign language. I accepted the invitation and prepared to teach in Pecs at the university.
When I was a kid I liked to read cookbooks. My mother had a full shelf and the ones that particularly appealed to me had to do with baking. One day I was looking at a two-page spread of pound cake recipes. I noticed that none of them had the same proportion of dry to wet ingredients. If the cookbook authors couldn’t make up their minds about which proportion was best, what was the point of a recipe?
As an adult I tried baking bread but making it from scratch isn’t easy. Flours have different moisture content. Altitude affects rising. When I tried to use a bread recipe I was stymied by the differing amounts of flour, sometimes 4-6 cups. How could such a spread be possible? The resulting breads were occasionally okay, but often they were mushy or crumbly. Breadmaking was a crap shoot. I never knew how the bread would turn out.
Life tales from a woman different living in The City Different.