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  • - I love hearing my name.

  • I love my name.

  • I don't care if that's vain,

  • 'cause I spent a lot of time hating my name.

  • - [Narrator] Our names are powerful, literally.

  • Our brains have a unique reaction to the sound of our names,

  • sometimes even while sedated,

  • but many students have their names

  • mispronounced or disregarded every day in school.

  • So what impact does that have on their education?

  • And what can educators do?

  • - [Woman] My name is Adenis.

  • - Ajani. - Jamara.

  • - Javia.

  • - Nekbakht. - Alilia.

  • - Nadesh Visimungu.

  • - Raghdan.

  • - It's actually Nichbacht, not Nichbat, Nichbich, Nichbod.

  • (bright music)

  • - [Lilia] Two of the embarrassing

  • the moment when there's a pause

  • and you know it's 'cause of you.

  • - [Raghdan] It just goes so far

  • that sometimes it's even concerning.

  • Like, Rajakada.

  • - [Amara] I remember just being like, "Oh, that must be."

  • - Especially if they said David.

  • Everyone would laugh.

  • - [Ajani] I learned pretty quickly

  • that it was easier to just go by AJ,

  • which is something that I, quite honestly,

  • regret doing now.

  • - [Narrator] In 2012, researchers Doctor Rita Kohli

  • and Doctor Daniel Solorrzzano published a study called,

  • "Teachers, please learn our names!:

  • racial mioxcroaggressions and the K-12 classroom."

  • Here's Doctor Kohli.

  • - [Doctor Kohli] Schools are not a power-neutral space.

  • Teachers are an authority figure.

  • Teachers how power in those contexts.

  • And so, often, what they say goes.

  • Often, what they say is viewed as

  • the legitimate knowledge in the space.

  • - [Narrator] So it takes a lot

  • for a first grader to say to their teacher,

  • "Excuse me, you pronounced my name this way,

  • "but it's actually this way

  • "and it matters to me."

  • In fact, it takes a lot for a student of any age.

  • - The first time I ever tried to confront a professor

  • was actually last semester,

  • and it wasn't really a good experience.

  • - Some professors

  • just don't even ask.

  • They're just like, "Can I call you by this name?"

  • - She mispronounced my name

  • then asked me if she can call me something else.

  • - Regardless of whether we want

  • to be called a certain way or not,

  • it's an elder person

  • who has a PhD, and this, and that.

  • - Later on, I felt like it was my responsibility

  • to actually email and tell her that,

  • "Professor, I get that it's the first day of class,

  • "but you don't even have the right

  • "to ask me if you can call me "something else."

  • She later on apologized,

  • but it's only because we pushed the conversation forward.

  • - [Narrator] So, what is the big deal?

  • - If you can't understand my name

  • how can you understand me?

  • - [Narrator] A microaggression is a subtle form

  • of discrimination that can occur

  • intentionally or unintentionally,

  • and it can include telling a student

  • their name is too hard to say.

  • - We're centering a particular cultural vantage point

  • when we say things are difficult to pronounce,

  • because they're not really

  • difficult to pronounce inherently.

  • They're difficult to pronounce for us.

  • - [Narrator] Doctor Kohli's research underscores

  • that a person's name is their entrance point to the world.

  • So, what happens when those names are mispronounced,

  • disregarded, or even mocked?

  • - [Doctor Kohli] They start to feel

  • like their name was a burden,

  • they start to feel like they themselves were a burden,

  • and so they begin to withdraw sometimes

  • from participating socially and academically in schools.

  • - [Narrator] There's actually a term

  • for the unintended lessons kids learn in school.

  • Things that live between the lines, and in hallways,

  • and in roll call.

  • - [Al-Jawhara] There's a lot that we impart

  • onto our students or onto each other

  • that is complete subtext.

  • We don't say it out loud.

  • - [Narrator] Al-Jawhara Al-Thani is the head of educational

  • and community programs at Qatar Foundation.

  • Her work focuses on hidden curriculum

  • and how to fix it.

  • - [Al-Jawhara] I was in a class once,

  • a sixth grade all boys English class,

  • and it was like like 15 minutes quiet reading time.

  • I was sitting at the back of the class.

  • At one point, the boy puts his hand up

  • and asks the teacher, he's like,

  • "Sir, I have a question."

  • He goes, "Yeah?"

  • He goes, "Why are they all white?"

  • You think kids don't register?

  • It registers.

  • - [Narrator] There are decades worth of studies

  • examining how curriculum, sometimes the world over,

  • is primarily Euro-centric, male, and upper class

  • with names to match.

  • It registers.

  • But, the curriculum is not always something

  • that's up to a teacher themselves.

  • Learning names, on the other hand, is.

  • - You're sitting in the back row in a lecture

  • of 200 students meeting on your phone.

  • You're gonna get me calling you by name,

  • "What are you doing?"

  • - [Narrator] Professor Susan Dun has been teaching

  • at Northwestern University in Qatar for over a decade.

  • Her undergrad experience at a liberal arts college

  • with small classes influenced her decision

  • to memorize the names of every student in her classes,

  • wherever she teaches.

  • Even in the 200-person lectures.

  • - [Susan] For me, teaching is about a lot more

  • than just transmission of knowledge.

  • It's about the growth and development

  • of human beings,

  • and so I can be far more effective in doing that

  • if I have at least a recognition of

  • know the identity of people, know their names,

  • know a little bit of something about them.

  • Even in a large class.

  • That they know when they walk in and I say, "Hi,"

  • and use their name, that I really know who they are.

  • - When I hear someone say my name correctly,

  • I'd be like, "Oh my god.

  • "Finally this person!

  • "They know how to say my name!"

  • - I think in our increasingly globalized world

  • where we have people from all sorts of

  • walks of life interacting,

  • that the idea that we're gonna mispronounce

  • each other's names is pretty much a given.

  • And so the question and the challenge is

  • to do as much as we can to figure out

  • how to embrace each other,

  • which sometimes starts with simply

  • taking the time and effort to figure out

  • how to greet each other properly.

  • - Why we're not asking teachers

  • to be able to say everybody's name correctly

  • the second they walk through the door,

  • but I think there's a difference between

  • imposing that, "Oh, your name is hard to say,"

  • versus, "I haven't learned how to say a name like this yet,

  • "but I'm working on it because you're important,

  • "and your name is important, and I want to honor that

  • "in my classroom."

  • - [Narrator] What working on it looks like in practice

  • might be different for every educator.

  • What's key is allowing teachers the room

  • to be students in this too.

  • - If we flip this around

  • and we think about the expectation for students

  • to learn lots of new things all at the same time,

  • and we encourage them to fail,

  • and we encourage them to keep trying,

  • and we encourage them,

  • I think that vulnerability that we expect of students

  • should be the same expectation that we have of our teachers.

  • They aren't the holders of all knowledge.

  • We know that.

  • We know that they're human.

  • - [Davia] What would I tell my younger self?

  • I would tell her to be proud that you have a unique name.

  • - [Raghdan] The fact that you have such a unique name

  • doesn't make you stand out in a negative way,

  • but instead it makes you shine.

  • - Know that's like snithing, embarrassing.

  • - It's gonna take time, but you will understand

  • how important your name is actually,

  • and how your parents did not name you

  • just for the sake of naming someone.

  • - I would tell my younger self

  • to learn about the significance of your name

  • and call that teacher out when they mispronounce your name.

  • - I would probably just

  • take my younger self by the shoulders,

  • look him dead in the eye, and tell him, "Your name means

  • "He who wins the struggle, and it'll be

  • a prophesy if you let it be."

- I love hearing my name.

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What's in a name? A lot, actually. [Advertiser content from Qatar Foundation]

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/09/02
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