As you might know, my mom is a first grade teacher, and every year before school starts, she spends a few days taking classes. This year, one class she took was all about education, race, and class. The idea is, that for some teachers, maybe raised in the upper middle class, there are sometimes hidden class or race codes that, if you're just sensitive to it, might explain why a kid has trouble grasping certain concepts or subjects.
Mom and I find all of this stuff fascinating. In her class, the instructor had the teachers split up into different groups. One of the markers of people raised in the lower middle class is probably having to pay your own way through college, she told me. I remember my own first weeks of college and how startled I was when I realized that the women in my first-year suite had, without even meaning to, segregated ourselves into our class stratae. All my friends, like me, were on scholarships and had hefty student loans. We hadn't been to private schools, and when break came, we worked.
I was nervous when Practically Perfect came out because I thought that the class issues in it were too naked. People would certainly see the sort of raw discomfort that I felt about money, authority, the sense that it all could go away at any minute—in other words, having some issues with class mobility. I thought that people would call me on it. Yo, chickee, it's a book about class and you're not even addressing it.
But what's weird? Nobody noticed at all. (Which is why, I suppose, they offer classes on race, class, and education in the first place.)
Do you remember that series that the New York Times ran a couple of years ago about class? They collected the whole shebang into a book—Class Matters—that I somehow missed when it came out. I just ordered it, and I'm looking forward to reading. It seems messy and interesting and crazy, in a good and possibly helpful way.
Speaking of that, do you love an online quiz? Well, here you go.