Sunday, March 15, 2009

Middelklasse? Middle Class?

En af min klasser læser en bog som hedder "Go Ask Alice" som er om problemerne med stoffer som er vokset med dags teenagers. Før vi begyndte at læse bogen, planlagde jeg mange aktiveteter for at "ligge fundamentet" for historien. Bogen fortæller historien om pigen Alice som forlader hendes "middelklasse liv" og familie for at forfølge et liv af stoffer og ingen regler. Men denne blog er ikke om "Go Ask Alice". I stedet for, er det om hvad jeg lærte fra mine elever på den dag.

One of my classes is reading a book called Go Ask Alice which chronicles how the drug problem has grown with today's teenagers. Before we began to read the book, I planned several activities to lay the foundation of the story. The book tells the story of Alice, a girl who leaves her middle class life and family in order to pursue a life of drugs and no rules. But this blog post is not about the book Go Ask Alice, but rather it is about what I learned from my students on that day.

En af aktiviterne jeg brugte med mine elever var en lille gruppe diskussion hvor jeg spurgte dem at sammenligne "middelklasse liv" med "counter cultur live" fordi jeg ville have dem til at forstå livet som Alice havde før og efter hun begyndte at bruge stoffer. Men de var forvirret.... Alle eleverne spurgte mig "hvad mener du om middelklasse??" Og da blev jeg forvirret. "Ved I ikke hvad ordet middelklasse betyder i samfunds øjne?" Men det vidste de ikke.....

One of the activities that I used with my students was a small group discussion where I asked them to compare middle class life with counterculture life because I wanted them to understand the life that Alice had before and after she began to use drugs. But they were confused....All the students asked me "What do you mean by middle class??" And then I became confused. "Do you not know what the term middle class means in society's eyes?" But they did not....

Da begyndte en ny lektion. En lektion hvor lærer blev eleven og eleverne blev lærer. Og jeg citer "Kelli, i Danmark er vi opdraget at se alle mennesker ens. Vi forstår ikke forskellen imellem klasser fordi vi tror at alle har samme rettigheder og det er forkert at se forskelligheder som er forbundet med penge." Jeg har læste om denne filosofi af det danske samfund, men i sidste uge så jeg I PRAKSIS og det var den bedste lektion som jeg har lært siden jeg flyttede til Danmark.

Then a new lesson began. A lesson where the teacher became the student and the students became the teacher. And I quote "Kelli, in Denmark we are raised to see all people as equal. We do not understand the difference between classes because we believe that everyone has the same rights and that it is wrong to see differences which are based on money." I have read about this philosophy of the Danish society, but last week I saw it IN PRACTICE and it was the best lesson that I have learned since I moved to Denmark.


Archaeogoddess said...

It's a great theory that everyone in Denmark is equal and that using money to show that you are better than others is bad... But someone seems to not have told my sister-in-law or my other sister-in-law's husband. Porsche SUVs?? I think because they're still in school, your students still have the rosy glasses view of the world. Older danes, like my friends in their late 20's and 30's are much more jaded and we often talk about the "idea" of equality in Denmark versus the reality. Most of Denmark falls into the middle class, but that entire class is playing "keeping up with the Jones." I don't have the money to play, and it shows in my clothes and my shoes and the technology I use. My aunt-in-law showed me her new purse and proudly told me how much it cost. Without thinking I exclaimed, "Dear God, I hope it makes you coffee in the morning!" Oops, I offended! Every year it becomes harder and harder to buy Christmas presents because the items on their wish lists are increasingly expensive and are Brand Restricted. I can't just buy them any nice scarf, it must be a particular one from a particular store from a particular designer. I don't particularly wish my family ill, but I think they could use a little economic downturning if you know what I mean.

Archaeogoddess said...

On a completely unrelated note to the previous post - I think it's funny that the kids at school are reading "Go Ask Alice". I read that YEARS ago.

BABS said...

LOL, okay, the good news:

you have some wonderful inspiring students. They sound like a great crowd.

The bad news: they are probably all middle class.

Which means that they will be able to hold ideals aloft.

And that on the other side of town, in certain houses and apartments, you can still find the underclass, and they are usually speaking Danish with a foreign accent. Equality has a price, and excuse my facetiousness!

Ideally, we are all equal here and do have the same chances, but the problem is, it's not always that simple.

If a family needs medical attention that cannot be provided by the state and has to be paid for, or if a child needs to go to a private school where she will recieve the education suitable for her...then they are the under class. It's not just about having a nice home and equal opportunites gender wise, it's also about being able to get what we need to blossom.

There are plenty of people finding out that all things are not equal here. The children of a doctor here will still be in better health than the child of an unemployed immigrant. This has been proven. In Denmark we have inequality when it comes to the rest of Europe regarding breast cancer treatment. We are probably the lower middle class of Europe. Class exists.

Middle class Danes tend to deny they exist in that format, and they herald 'classlessness' in the same way as they herald 'free speech'. Some people here cannot afford to have an opinion, and they are invisible to most middle class Danes. *shrugs*

I hope I am not being too much of a wet blanket, but these are just my observations that have come from meeting a lot of different 'sorts' of people here.

Personally, I am of the bohemian class, which makes me classless and classy. We are poor in the traditional way (have no cash and only one income), cannot afford the treatments we need medically, but at least we have philosophy to keep us warm at night!

However, I appreciate ideals and standards, I really do, and like I say, your students sound like they have some admirable ones of their own.

HOLMES said...

Every time you write about Denmark schools, it makes me grieve for the educational toilet we have in Texas. For one, you're able to read a decent book. And for another, the kids don't come to you mired in social BS that creates learning barriers. So jealous of your experiences with your kids and theirs with you!

Anonymous said...

A great story! Although people in Scandinavia are brought up to believe this, there are still 'classes' or should I say, differences based on how much money you have...

I do believe that education is a powerful tool and so I'm happy to hear that kids are being raised to think in other ways.

The Strange Shores Blog Carnival is now published - and you have been featured! Please mention it in a post and ask your readers to go here:

Anonymous said...

Did you get my comment? Blogger is acting up so I'm not sure..

Anyway, the blog carnival is up:

Please mention it in your next post... Have a great Sunday evening!

N said...

That's a great book. I read a couple of times and cried every time.

Caution/Lisa said...

Perspective is an interesting study, isn't it?

I do love it when my students want to engage in thoughtful conversation :)

And lastly, a belated happy birthday!