Lack of Student Empathy

Young & Free columnist Corinne Vance beside a Mississippi Delta corn field with her first cousin

Young & Free columnist Corinne Vance beside a Mississippi Delta corn field with her first cousin, Tony Clay.

(Clarksdale, Mississippi)

Huckleberry Ed heard a story last week from a young, idealistic, but-not-naïve teacher (we will call him Mr. Chips) in the public school system. His story rang as true as an old Big Ben alarm clock. Huckleberry Ed saw it in the public schools on a daily basis, and it broke his heart, while frustrating the hell out of him.

What say he Huckleberry? What is the heart-wrenching tale that has your boxers in a wad?

The gifted, give-a-crap-about-the-Delta-which-is-why-he-moved-here Mr. Chips shared with his young teen class that he sponsored a child in another country through a philanthropic organization.

Huckleberryed Ed used to do this back in the day, and he presumes it is a similar program. $25-$35 a month will help feed, clothe, and often provide a formal school education for children who might have neither of the three without the external support.

When Mr. Chips shared with his class a picture and a bio of the child he financially and sacrificially sponsored, many of the students laughed at the child and made fun of him.

What a travesty!

Though all of us deal with small-minded thinking at times and we can find our hearts troubled with jealousy, envy, and a desire to see others fail so that we may look good, it is tragic to see such high-handed and open envy manifested in children, who should still be ripe with innocence and goodwill.

Too many folks do not have a check on their base nature today. Accountability is often non-existent in the home and children are not being taught to be gracious to others. They are taught to “get while the getting is good.”

This type of existential, don’t-worry-about-the-future mentality is part of the reason the Delta is in a moral and educational demise. Pontificus would surely say, “Let us reason together and find common ground and purpose in our co-existence, and Lord help us to be thankful for what we have been given and help us to want to see others blessed.”

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  1. “Lack of Studen Empathy”
    How sad it was to read this yet I am sure there were several young students who like “Mr Chips”, have a great deal of empathy and concern for the child in his picture. At a school/s I am affiliated with students are required to give of their time to others in order to progress to the next grade. This requirement begins in grade school and continues on into highschool. As the student matures and progresses so do the requirements. Exposing children to the plight of others in their community and abroad not only fosters empathy it creates an attitude of thankfulness for what they have. There are several ideas that come to mind when considering how to ignite empathy in children but I am sure “Mr Chips” is already pondering a few of them right now.

  2. For the record Lord Chuck is the director of an alternative education program. For those not familiar with alternative education, this translates to the kids that everyone in the public education system has completely given up on. I am constantly amazed that these kids feel the need to make fun of others. However, rather than becoming angered I tell my student’s that I feel sorry for them when they choose to make fun of others less fortunate. I explain to them that many people in our society are born physically, mentally, socially, economically or otherwise disadvantaged. I also lend that it is much sadder for someone who has the opportunities that they have to waste them. Glasses can correct vision, hearing devices can help us converse, contributions can help those with few financial means, but a lack of integrity is very hard to accommodate for.

  3. Loved reading both of your comments! Billy and I REALLY want to bring the African Children’s Choir to the Mississippi Delta. Wouldn’t that be awesome?! Here’s a video about how one individual’s life was changed by being in that choir. Can you imagine, our kids here, black & white, all colors, watching them perform and then getting to participate in a workshop where they can learn an African chant/song?!! Am I dreaming?!

  4. The African Children’s Choir is awesome! I’ve seen them perform here in FL. Magical, you’re a genious! I think people often make fun of others so that they can feel better about themselves-it’s a dysfunctional way they have learned to cope with their own low self-esteem. I’m not for the “give everyone a trophy” approach-but if people could see what they have to be thankful for, as above; what they have to offer the world and others; and how God sees us and others, perhaps they would not feel such a need to make fun of others. Pontificus Minimus would likely approve.

  5. Pontificus does approve–wholeheartedly! BTW, Magical and Pontificus had dinner at a table next to your older female sibling in a town near here this evening! 🙂

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