Majority of adults believe that being a kid is being that little girl or boy that has no say of his or her own, but depends solely on adults. We believe that anything can be forced on them, and all they need do is to accept without any objection. That is the story of Rachel in “Eleven” written by Sandra Cisneros, who on her eleventh birthday still did not feel like it. She talked about how it feels to be a certain age, but you still act and feel like the ages before that. The behaviors and emotions still reflect the child in you. She said “the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one” (Cisneros 6). This quote explains how she feels as an eleven year old, but still have the characteristics and emotions of a Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three, Two, and One year old.
She gave an illustration of how on her eleventh birthday, she was not given a choice to express herself but was forced to agree with her teacher on the issue of a red sweater that wasn’t hers but belong to someone else. She wished she was One hundred and two years old, only then would she have been able to stand for herself and Mrs. Price would have listened to her and she would not have put the ugly red sweater on her table. At the age of hundred and two, Rachel would have known what and how to tell her teacher she was not the owner of the red sweater, instead of struggling within herself to reject the sweater. She knew she was been treated unfairly by her teacher just because she’s eleven and she is meant to respect and obey her teacher without any given opportunity to express herself but to do according to her teacher’s command. When Mrs. Price asked “Whose is this?” holding up the ugly red sweater, everyone said not mine and the teacher believed them, not until Sylvia Saldivar stood up and said “I think it belong to Rachel”. For her teacher to believe her classmate over her is a form of intimidation to her and she wished she was an age much older than eleven with the confidence of an adult and she would be able to stand up for herself.
From the story, the teacher believed every other person when they said the sweater wasn’t theirs. She also believed Sylvia, who hates Rachel and was looking for ways to hurt her, said to their teacher that the ugly sweater was Rachel’s. Mrs. Price refused to believe Rachel, but believed Sylvia. This made Rachel sad and felt the teacher doesn’t like her, that’s why she never believed her when she said the sweater wasn’t hers. Also, she knew Sylvia hates her that was why she told a lie against her to hurt her on her Eleventh birthday. She said and I quote “maybe because I’m skinny, maybe because she doesn’t like me.”After this experience, Rachel felt that the teacher favors her other classmates over her and this really made her sad felt intimidated.
Favoritism is generally the case in many school classrooms, according to an article written by a researcher on Favoritism in the classroom, he said “Teachers are said to favor certain students over others at school and especially in their classes.” (Aydogan 2008). Sadly, when one child is being favored over the other in a class by their teacher, it makes the less favored child become self-withdrawn and lack interest throughout the school semester. The classroom is a place where children go to acquire knowledge and respect for others. The teacher is meant to treat all her students equally and fairly. The ethical principle of teaching profession includes “professionalism, responsible service, fairness, equality, respect for human freedom, compassion honesty, continuous development, integrity, trust, maintaining a healthy and safe environment.” (Aydogan 2008). As a teacher, you give your students equal right to express themselves in class. That was not the case for Mrs. Price who never gave Rachel the right to accept or reject the ugly red sweater.
Everyone expect to be treated right on their birthdays. They want to be happy and share this happiness with their loved ones. Rachel was looking forward to going home after school because she knew her mum was baking a cake and when her papa gets home they will all sing “happy birthday song” for her. Unfortunately, her happiness was short lived when Sylvia Saldivar decided to accuse her wrongly and made her teacher Mrs. Price put the ugly sweater on her desk. She tried to be eleven and act like a big girl, but the three year old in her was struggling to come out through her eyes. Mrs. Price was quick to believe Sylvia over Rachel. This could be because Sylvia is the outspoken one and Rachel is the timid one. Most teachers will have different emotions towards outspoken and timid children in their classroom.
After all the deed had been done, and the ugly sweater has been placed on her desk. Rachel tried so hard to hide the three year old in her that wants to come out through her eyes but instead, kept the face and posture of an eleven year old that she is. Just when she thought all was over, Mrs. Price came and insist that she put on the ugly red sweater that smells of cottage cheese. That was the moment she lost all control and all the years inside her pushed through her eyes and she cried bitterly. The teacher here failed in her ability to manage her classroom and manage the situation of the ugly sweater thereby making a child feel terrible on her birthday. Not only did she force Rachel to wear an ugly, smelly sweater that was not hers, she also failed to apologize to Rachel when the real owner of the sweater Phyllis Lopez came up and claimed the sweater. Rachel said,”Mrs. Price pretends like everything’s okay.”(Cisneros 9). Adult sometimes take advantage of vulnerable children just because they think they can, and there’s nothing the child can do about it. They fail to realize that treating a child badly could destroy the child’s self esteem.
Unfortunately, a birthday that could have been a happy one for Rachel turned out to be one she does not want to ever remember because of a misconception that happened in her classroom.
Aydogan, İsmail. “Favoritism in the Classroom: A Study on Turkish Schools.” Journal of Instructional Psychology, vol. 35, no. 2, June 2008, pp. 159–168. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=33405329&site=ehost-live.
Cisneros, Sandra. “Eleven” Women Hollering Creek and other stories.
Vintage Contemporaries, New York 1992. Pp 6-9.
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