Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Childhood and (in)dependence

“The truth is that since childhood I had cultivated an existential independence. It came from perceiving the adults around me as unreliable, and without it I felt I wouldn’t have survived. I cared deeply for everyone in my family, but in the end I depended on myself.” (Sonia Sotomayor. My Beloved World,  Knopf 2013)

"Gracias tio,.......You don't know that I still have and treasure two books you gave me as a child. One is poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson and the other Aesop's fables. They are hard cover books and I have had them since we lived in Bed Stuy. They will be Noeli's but not yet. She is too young and will forget when I explain to her that I got them from my uncle, her grandfather's brother, and that they are very special.....  .   Your niece...." (ETC, email message. 1/21/2013)

Both of these Newyorican women grew up in poor neighborhoods, with very limited resources and yet both were able to move on to become completely autonomous and successful in their particular careers; one is an internationally known judge, the other an excellent elementary school teacher (like her tío!!!). Instead of focusing on failures, educators and social scientists should also study the family and social conditions that lead children to being able to overcome limitations and  achieve educational and professional goals.   


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