In America to Me, there were a couple of scenes that showed how Aaron
Podolner, one of the science teachers from Oak Park and River Forest High School, dealt
with race within his own classroom. While his approach to dealing with race made many
of us feel uncomfortable, I still have sympathy for him because he is at least attempting
to solve the issue that Oak Park and River Forest High School are facing, the
achievement gap. However, in the show, we can clearly see that most of the African
American students do not like how Mr. Podolner treats them. Therefore, Mr. Podolner
needs to change how he talks to his students, so he would hopefully improve his students’
The first thing that Mr. Podolner needs to improve on is to acknowledge the
boundaries. In one of the scenes, he picked up one of the student’s drink and sniffed it,
and she found it weird and disrespectful. In my opinion, I didn’t think it was a big deal,
but I can completely understand why some may find it rude. Mr. Podolner had no reason
to pick up the beverage and sniff it other than trying to start a conversation and connect
with her. Yes, trying to bond with your students is important and can be beneficial, but he
should have not sniffed the cup and instead should have simply asked what the drink was.
When teachers make their students uncomfortable, it makes it really hard for the students
to even want to speak with them, which would hinder their performance on tests,
homework, etc. They are more likely to just not ask for help and would probably try to
the avoid the teacher at all costs. In order to prevent this from happening, teachers need to
make sure that their students feel comfortable. To do that, you must respect people’s
belongings. However, not only teachers must be aware of the boundaries, but they should
also treat everyone the same.
While it may sound contradictory to say that you m...