Friday, February 14, 2014

Final thoughts

Influences of Family Culture and Society course challenged how I view people who do not share the same cultural background, sexual orientation, religion or social class as myself.  The course challenged me to examine microaggressions that I have committed towards others who do not belong to the dominant group in American society and look at the intolerance through another person's perspective. Marsha Hawley recalled how classmates would say, "Watch out for her, the yellow peril. Watch out for her. She can't be trusted. Or, she's cheap. She's made in Japan" (Laureate Education, 2013).  Her mother told her to ignore these comments and her father told her to be proud that she is Japanese.  In reality, she had no avenue to explore her feelings.  As I viewed her story throughout the course, I realized that she used childhood adversity to guide her passion and to form her career choice. 
One of the most influential course readings was When the Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Fadiman. This book exemplified how the lack of communication, cultural awareness, and cultural sensitivity transformed the life of a child, Lia Lee.  Lia had epilepsy.  In the Hmong culture, epileptics were fitted for divine office and often become shamans. The seizures gave them powers to perceive things other people could not see and facilitate trances (Fadiman, 2012). While in Western society, the seizures were caused by misfirings in the brain and needed to be controlled by anticonvulsant medicine. When the parents could not follow the complicated daily medicine routine, Social Services removed Lia from the home.  However, if the doctors and the parents spoke a common language and understood each others culture and beliefs, the child may never have been removed. If the doctors had realized that the Lees desired the best for Lia rather than surmising that they were deliberately disobeying doctors’ orders, Lia may have never been placed in foster care. The parents could have explained how the medicines were effecting their daughter, and the doctors could have altered her treatment. After reading the book, I reflected on how as Americans many times we think that our way is the best way, so we do not take the time to understand other ways.  If the American doctors had taken the time to communicate with the Lees and to understand their beliefs, Lia's life would have been different. 

Click on this link:  It shows the influence adults have on children's lives.    
As I reflected on the video clip and the course material, I realize that we do not understand the influence that we have on children. Our words and our actions help mold children.  For example, one mother recounted an event where one of the neighborhood children came after her oldest son with a knife because her husband had been deployed. She concluded that the kid was insinuating that her husband was personally responsible for the war and that he should not be in the war (Mmari, Roche, Sudhinarest, and Blum, 2009). Most likely, an adult influenced his attitude towards the war either through social media, news outlets, or a parent. The child's action could have been catastrophic. As an early childhood professional, I need to be cognizant of not only the words I say but also my actions.  I need to teach love and respect, but I also need to show these characteristics in my actions towards everyone I come in contact.  


           Fadiman, A. (2012). The spirit catches you and you fall down: A Hmong child, her American doctors and the collision of two cultures. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
  Laureate Education (Producer). (2013). Biases and microaggressions passed on through generations [Video file]. Retrieved from 
 Mmari, K., Roche, K., Sudhinaraset, M., & Blum, R. (2009).  When a parent goes off to war: exploring the issues faced by adolescents and their families.  Youth Society 40(4), 455-475. 


  1. I agree we must examine our actions and how they influence young children. Children are perceptive to our emotional responses. We may think we are discussing topics in private and the children will not know, but they can read the body language. If you disapprove, your eyes and body language can give away your true intentions. Part of professionalism is taking responsibility for your actions and attitudes. Treating all children with respect and acceptance is important for a true anti-bias classroom.
    Cynthia Thralls

  2. Cynthia,
    I agree with your response. It is our responsibility to take control of our actions and our attitudes. Children are paying attention to adults even when we do not think they are. Last week, one of my girls from children's church asked us to pray for a death. She did not who had died but had overhead her mom talking and presumed that she was going to the funeral. When I talked to the mother afterwards, I told her about the prayer request. The mother proceeded to tell me it was a friend of the family, and she was not going to the funeral. The little girl had pieced the information together and added undue worry to her life. We have to be careful what we say and do even when we think no one is watching. It is in the times when we think no one is watching our true values and beliefs are exposed.

  3. Hi Melissa T.,
    As a professional, the process of learning new cultures can be challenging; however, the experience of meeting new individuals and finding ways to support them can be rewarding. You wrote, “The course challenged me to examine microaggressions that I have committed towards others who do not belong to the dominant group in American society and look at the intolerance through another person's perspective.” I, too, have examined the unintentional microaggressions committed toward the families I worked with. I sincerely admire your self-reflection on ways to improve your relationship with children and their families. Your discussion posts have been helpful, as you offered useful information to the audience regarding military deployment and building positive reciprocal relationships. It was a pleasure working with your in this course; I wish you all the best in your future courses.


  4. Shamaine
    Thank you for your kind words. This class has opened my eyes about microagressions in not only my professional life but also my personal life. It has challenged me to think before I speak or act.
    Thank you for your support throughout this course. Best wishes as we continue our journey.

  5. Melissa,
    This course was definitely eye opening in regards to biases and microagressions. Your ending statement is powerful. We need to teach love and respect but also show in our words and deeds. Little ones are watching and picking on our body language and words. Your post made me think of the 3 monkeys: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.
    Thank you for sharing the information on your course project on military deployment.
    Sharon Lloyd

    1. Sharon,
      Thank you for your comments. I really had to reflect on microagressions and wonder what words or actions did I do that unintentionally hurt someone. It really had me stop and think how I can do better.If we all take the time to reflect think how much different our world could be.
      I have enjoyed working with you. Best wishes as you continue on in this journey.

  6. Melissa,
    You have articulated many of the significant learning from this course. I have also realized how influential we can be in a child's life. This seems to be both a blessing and an enormous amount of responsibility! I have enjoyed your thoughts and ideas during discussions. I hope to work with you again in the future.
    -Jessica C.

    1. Jessica,
      An adult's influence on a child's life can change the course of a child's life. It is our responsibility to show them how to be respectful, kind, thoughtful, and polite. Adults can talk about to children about these characteristics but if they do not exemplify these characteristics themselves, their words are useless. Words and actions must match in order to make a difference.
      I have enjoyed working with you and best wishes on your future studies.

  7. Hi Melissa,

    Watching the video clip and reflecting upon the book The Spirit Catches you and You Fall Down does speak volumes on how we impact the lives of others. Like you this course has made me become more aware of how I work with children and their families. As an educator/administrator I have great influence over those I work with and I must provide a positive example of working with diverse families. Thanks so much for your thought provoking post.


  8. Melissa,
    You can feel the passion you have for your topic/challenge in your words in your final blog post here. You are so right that we as teachers/adults do not realize how far and deep our influence can go. It is so important to remember how influencing we can be because as a teacher you always hope you are being a positive influence and a supportive influence.