I have been reading Outliers by Malcom Gladwell. Seven years old, this book seems dated now, but it does raise some interesting points around how seemingly small advantages, like birthday relative to cut off dates can dramatically affect outcomes. Thinking about this in the indigenous context is pretty sobering, if small advantages can have big impacts, what about the big disadvantages a lot of our people face, how much more is this reflected in their lives? And yet as a society we blame those who do not succeed as too lazy and as not worthy of help rather than seeing them as carrying the scars of these disadvantages and working to support these people to make a better future.
I was struck personally as we try to work with Runa's teacher. The teacher characterized my child as a lazy liar who can't read cause she is not really trying - this is grade one. Now we were lucky enough and knowledgeable enough to get Runa set up for learning assessment last fall. Given the waiting list for assessments we are just now doing the testing and surprise, the kid can't recognize letters at all. Without the money for early testing it could have been years before she was tested by the school. Those would have been years of being told she was a problem. It just makes me so mad. How many more kids are there out there with lives being set by the assumptions of their teachers and a lack of resources to do proper testing? What is my responsibility in all this?