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        Richard Wright, in his autobiography BLACK BOY, tells of his
struggle to find acceptance among people of his own race, among members of
the Communist Party, and among writers and artists of his time.  His
physical hunger (he was raised in extreme poverty) becomes a psychological
and spiritual hunger for people to understand that his motives are only to
tell their story and not to undermine or in any way diminish their
existence.  Even his own family mistrusts and abuses him because he insists
on reading what they term "scandalous" and "blasphemous" material.  His
loneliness is heartwrenching, not unlike the feelings of some of our
students who are the very first in their families to go to college.  Perhaps
this break with tradition is a kind of suicide, but the self that is lost is
replaced by another persona, one that we hope is able to find a home in this
new, more aware, place.
        What happens with first generation students seems like a somewhat
exaggerated version of what happens with most (all?) college students.  Has
anyone read KNOWING AND REASONING IN COLLEGE? I can't for the life of me
remember the name of the author, but I remember the book very well.  She
traced a group of 100 students (50 males, 50 females) through college,
having them complete surveys and personal interviews after each year.  Their
answers to the same questions changed dramatically as they went from
outsiders to members of the family. Written for student services personnel,
the book is appropriate for all of us who test, teach and advise.
        Have a good weekend!



At 11:05 PM 8/7/97 -0400, you wrote:
>Tom Ott writes that he thinks the  term  "culture suicide"  that Stephen
>Brookfield uses is too harsh a term  to describbe first generation college
>students' struggles  and highlights the negative side of  breaking away
>from one's home without  acknowledging the positive benefits.
>
>That's why I suggested some autobiographies -  Mike Rose describes his
>struggle from East LA poverty to a professorship at UCLA -  Rodriguez also
>struggled  but some have accused him of abandoning his culture;
>
>The quandry of the first generation students  whose parents oppose and put
>down going to college is different from those whose parents support
>college.  - i.e., see Thornton, Y. S. & Coudert, J.  The Ditch Digger's
>Daughters, Bruce Lane Press, 1994. .
>Thornton describes how her father, a ditch digger,  wanted his three girls
>to be doctors and what he and his wife did to make that possible.
>All got to college and one became a doctor.  MM
>
>Tom wrote:
><Steven Brookfield's description, The Skillful Teacher (1990)Jossey- Bass
>p. 153, of 1st generation college students ("culture suicide")described
>by Martha Maxwell seems a bit grim and one dimensional. Certainly there
>is a struggle to break free of previous cultural influences, I remember
>my own quite vividly, and no doubt it is sometimes a violent struggle,
>but so too is there an emerging into a new culture. The emphasis in much
>that I read seems to be on the former, and it should not be discounted,
>but why is so little written about what this student can emerge into? I
>realize there are landmines all over this territory, but if education is
>really transformative (and Developmental Education especially so) and we
>believe that what we would have students transform into---independently
>thinking contributing members of our society hopefully with sensibilities
>positively refined---then perhaps we need to be more concretely and
>positively assertive about the enriched lives our students are moving
>toward.>
Mary F. Leslie,
Director of Developmental Skills
University of Maine at Augusta
253 Augusta Civic Center
46 University Drive
Augusta, ME  04330-4910
(207) 621-3151
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http://www.uma.maine.edu