Mimosa Hill Blog
Southern Rural Culture and Student Outcomes: Part 3 of 6: Student Outcomes and Stewardship of the Land
|Posted on May 3, 2016 at 1:15 AM|
Within my extensive rural family, most of the males drive green tractors that pull green equipment. Farming has been a part of the American landscape since the beginnings of our country when almost everyone had a connection to the land and to farmers. Today, the estimate of farmers to the rest of the American population is about 1-2%. Not hardly a majority. But, in the Rural South, the geography is mostly rural and the acres are dedicated to farming or to merchants who service the agricultural industries.
The green tractor dealers are some of those merchants. No one can give real reasons for the favor towards green (there are also blue, red, yellow, and gray soil tenders); green just seems to be the right color of farm equipment to have in our family. The first generation of farmers to settle in the area chose to farm. The next generation did the same. Of the next generation, four of five offspring lived near the home farm and farmed for a living—most of them with green equipment. The great-grandchildren of the first to settle near the home area, chose to a large degree to do the same. Of the twelve that were born, one was handicapped and three did not live into middle adulthood. The remaining eight all live near the “home farm” and receive most of their income off their own farms using green equipment.
Additionally, the family chose the Church of Christ early on as the accepted faith to support for most of the family. Even into the generation of great grandchildren, because of family loyalty rather than some doctrine critique or analysis, many of the family members either choose to attend and/or have family burial plots there. Loyalty has traditionally played a big part to the Rural Southerner—to their chosen religion, to their political party, to their school, or to the color of their farm equipment.
Our home or “place culture” is more a part of who we are than a description of where we live. Consider the differences of the long-ago historical territorial, almost warlike, cave-dweller hunters; as compared to the isolated, independent, nomadic farmer-gatherers; or to the clustered, more social early city-builders who learned to depend on each other for all the supplies they needed.
Of course, the differences are not quite as pronounced as they once were. However, consider being a dark-skinned student who moves to a “white” community in the Rural South where the Stars and Bars fly proudly, defiantly, just below the Stars and Stripes on the town-square flag poles. Would you feel the pressure of the “place”?
Or think about being a fair-skinned, Redneck (farmer) from the Rural South with a slow drawl like thick molasses who is forced to figure out how to fit in as a recent immigrant to the inner city of Detroit at the same time he is expected to figure out the relevance of calculus or of Islam to his life.
Without some recognition and assistance from the teacher in dealing with cultural differences, neither of these two students would be expected to fare well learning new concepts. Issues of culture would trump all else. Parents and educators have to learn this lesson first; otherwise, the students have small chance of overcoming the interferences to their learning.