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Comfort Zones

Brooke Kelly's picture

The second thing that was notable this week occurred today during our class discussion with Marsha Pincus. As I shared in class, when I was in middle school we went on a week long overnight field trip, in which we were divided into groups. At the time, we noticed that the groups seemed to be divided by cliques, including which teacher was leading the group. For example, the athletic kids were with the gym teacher, the kids in band were with the band teachers, etc. A few years later, the gym teacher whose group my friends and I were in confessed that they had drafted the groups. At the time, we absolutely loved our groups. I was with my favorite teacher and all my friends, so it seemed like the ideal situation. However, reflecting back now, I see that all that did was establish and enforce the stereotypes that we already felt about each other and ourselves. While it is true that these groups already existed, making these groups established that they were concrete and acknowledged that the teachers were also aware of them, and felt no need to attempt at integration. In high school, we all developed other interests, but the groups remained. Perhaps part of this is that we were not encouraged to reach outside of these groups at a young age, which lead to the cliché, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” This was also an example of our teachers projecting themselves onto us, as in many ways the groups seemed to be divided by who they would have liked to be friends with if they were our age. It is hard to completely argue against these groups because they maximized the “fun” factor of this trip, I can’t help but wonder if in the long term spectrum they robbed us of something by refusing to take us out of our comfort zone.



lesaluna12's picture

Teachers taking part in stereotypes/cliques

I enjoyed reading your post and as I thought about my own experiences, I think teachers have to remember that there are students that look up to them and even though there will be some that don't have a connection with them that doesn't mean that they don't notice a teacher's actions. Teachers are seen as an authority figure and so if students see that a teacher doesn't if they are grouped with friends then they are going to think its okay and not try to keep an open mind in getting to know the rest of their peers. In addition, for teachers to show an open connection with only a certain group of students, that will cause other students to feel like they are unaproachable and keep them from establishing their own connection with that teacher. I feel like this is an issue one would mainly face in middle school and high school because everyone divides themselves into groups.

maddybeckmann's picture

Hi Brooke, I wasn't there on

Hi Brooke, I wasn't there on Thursday, however this memory is very interesting to me because I remember times like this in middle and high school too. It is interesting how teachers also fell into their comfort zone as well as Professor Lesnick mentions. It reminds me of Marsha Pincus' quote "Before a teacher can engage her students to live life consciously, she must find the courage to question and live consciously herself—face her own fears, analyze and understand her own desires, and see herself as a living human being capable of doing meaningful work in the world. A teacher who has not been awakened to her own possibilities for growth cannot inspire such growth in her students" (148).  I think this shows that even teachers have their own stereotypes where they feel comfortable and secure.  There are certain students that certain teachers will identify with and certain students that they will not. The challenge is stepping out of their comfort zone and identifying the "desires" and comfort zones and being willing to step outside of these. It is a good wake up call to realize that not only students fall into stereotypes. Really interesting thoughts! I really enjoyed your post! Thanks! 

alesnick's picture

projecting teachers' fears

I appreciate your reconsidering this memory.  Especially striking to me is the possibility that the teachers were in fact seeking to stay in or recover or gain their own comfort zones by affiliating with students who would validate them.  This is deep!