Humanities Moments

Humanities Moments

We’ve all had “humanities moments” — when our lives were made richer, more poignant, and meaningful because of the insights the humanities provide.

My Mom, My Best Friend

Contributed by Victoria Ade, 29, Social Studies Teacher

Description

When I was two years old, my parents filed for divorce. At the age of two, I don't recall this time of my life but what I do remember is where it led me. As I grew up as an only child living in a home run by my single mother, she became my ultimate role model and was always my biggest supporter and my best friend.

Fast forward to high school, and the boyfriend my mom had since I can remember (about 4 years old) was moving out. In the wake of this massive change in both our lives, I had no idea that my mom was personally struggling with something greater.

When we moved out, my mom presented me with a letter. In this letter, she described her personal struggles to find her own identity that she didn't know how to tell me herself. As I read the words, I was faced with a turning point in my life too. My mom was gay, and had found happiness with my high school field hockey coach.

Difficult as this was as a 15 year old in high school for a multitude of reasons, I had to work through my feelings of confusion, deceit, and love. I had always been an advocate for equality, but when your mother tells you a secret and you are faced with a complete moment of cognitive dissonance, it is completely different. Ultimately, after years of internal questioning and external anger mixed with the emotional nature of being a teenage girl, I found a passion and an interest that would guide the rest of my life and my career: I love all people for who they are, regardless of their differences - whether it's sexuality, race, ethnicity, gender, ability, age, etc.
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Why is this a Humanities Moment?

From that point forward, in college and beyond, I transformed this passion into action. In college, I took classes on race and racism, on sexuality and gender formation, and of course took my history courses as well. I had always known I wanted to be a teacher since the fifth grade, and this pushed me into the space, topic, and age that would best suit who I am as a person: as a teacher of history, of the social sciences, and of equality.

In teaching US History, a law class, and a sociology elective course at the high school where I am employed, I am not afraid to tackle the big ideas - to talk about the HARD stuff. I have opened their eyes to the realities of slavery: the breeding of slaves, the brutality of rape, the selling and separating of families. I have created units of study on what it means to be transgender, how far yet difficult the LGBTQ road has been, what racism looks like deep down – how privilege permeates our society, and how gender discrimination is still all too real. I take care to foster a culture of open-mindedness rather than a projection of a political agenda. More importantly, my classes focus on the development of empathy, without which you cannot be a true student of the humanities.

I am an "engineer of souls," as Shu-Ying Bonner suggested in our National Humanities Center Teacher Advisory Council conference. What better way to engineer souls than to introduce them to the humanity of people and empathy to guide them as members of a community, a country, a world at large?

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About this Moment

Title

My Mom, My Best Friend

Subject

From that point forward, in college and beyond, I transformed this passion into action. In college, I took classes on race and racism, on sexuality and gender formation, and of course took my history courses as well. I had always known I wanted to be a teacher since the fifth grade, and this pushed me into the space, topic, and age that would best suit who I am as a person: as a teacher of history, of the social sciences, and of equality.

In teaching US History, a law class, and a sociology elective course at the high school where I am employed, I am not afraid to tackle the big ideas - to talk about the HARD stuff. I have opened their eyes to the realities of slavery: the breeding of slaves, the brutality of rape, the selling and separating of families. I have created units of study on what it means to be transgender, how far yet difficult the LGBTQ road has been, what racism looks like deep down – how privilege permeates our society, and how gender discrimination is still all too real. I take care to foster a culture of open-mindedness rather than a projection of a political agenda. More importantly, my classes focus on the development of empathy, without which you cannot be a true student of the humanities.

I am an "engineer of souls," as Shu-Ying Bonner suggested in our National Humanities Center Teacher Advisory Council conference. What better way to engineer souls than to introduce them to the humanity of people and empathy to guide them as members of a community, a country, a world at large?

Description

When I was two years old, my parents filed for divorce. At the age of two, I don't recall this time of my life but what I do remember is where it led me. As I grew up as an only child living in a home run by my single mother, she became my ultimate role model and was always my biggest supporter and my best friend.

Fast forward to high school, and the boyfriend my mom had since I can remember (about 4 years old) was moving out. In the wake of this massive change in both our lives, I had no idea that my mom was personally struggling with something greater.

When we moved out, my mom presented me with a letter. In this letter, she described her personal struggles to find her own identity that she didn't know how to tell me herself. As I read the words, I was faced with a turning point in my life too. My mom was gay, and had found happiness with my high school field hockey coach.

Difficult as this was as a 15 year old in high school for a multitude of reasons, I had to work through my feelings of confusion, deceit, and love. I had always been an advocate for equality, but when your mother tells you a secret and you are faced with a complete moment of cognitive dissonance, it is completely different. Ultimately, after years of internal questioning and external anger mixed with the emotional nature of being a teenage girl, I found a passion and an interest that would guide the rest of my life and my career: I love all people for who they are, regardless of their differences - whether it's sexuality, race, ethnicity, gender, ability, age, etc.

Date

High School

Contributor

Victoria Ade, 29, Social Studies Teacher

Identifier

my-mom-my-best-friend

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