Written with prejudice By Jim Davidson The English critic and essayist, William Hazlitt (1778-1830), once said, "Prejudice is the child of ignorance."
Without question prejudice has no place in a civilized society, because it leads to attitudes and actions based on conclusions that are preconceived, rather than information that is factual. Prejudice is usually associated with bigotry and hatred, but prejudice in itself is not necessarily bad. It can be good, if we are prejudiced toward the right things and in the right way. The real danger is that we often let our emotions get in the way.
Some time ago, Mr. Robert C. Howe, principal of the North Kansas City High School, was in Little Rock to address a conference of school administrators and I had the privilege of being in the audience. During his speech he shared something he called "Written With Prejudice," and I enjoyed it so much I asked him for a copy. If you have youngsters of your own, or grandchildren, I believe you will appreciate it, as well.
First, a mother is speaking: "Dear Teacher, Please find attached to this note one six year old boy, much cleaner and quieter than usual and with new hair cut and blue jeans. With him go the prayers of his mother and father. He's good at creating airplanes and chaos, very adept at tying knots and attracting stray dogs; he especially likes peanut butter, horses, the westerns, empty boxes and his shirt tail out.
"He is allergic to baths, bedtime, taking out trash, and coming the first time he's called. He needs to be taught and spanked, loved and spanked, and reminded to blow his nose and come straight home after school.
"After having him in your class and on your nerves, you may not be the same, but I believe you will be glad to know him, because while he strews books, toys and clothes, he has a special way of scattering happiness. Written, I'm afraid, with prejudice." Signed, his Mother.
Here's the principal's response: "Dear Mother, Please find attached to this diploma one 18 year old boy, much more mature, with loftier ideals and goals than he had when you sent him to us some 12 years ago. With him go the prayers of his teachers and friends.
"He's good at different things now. He has more understanding of the world about him.
He is able to do mathematical computations, and knows something of the scientific approach to problem solving. He can read and write in at least the English language, and has probably developed some skills in typing, woodworking, art and driving an automobile.
"He is still allergic to baths, bedtime, taking out the trash and coming the first time he's called. He still needs to be taught and loved, but perhaps not spanked. He needs to be reminded of the adult responsibilities of adult membership in the American society, to uphold the ideals of good citizenship, integrity, honesty, justice, humility and priority of life.
"He needs to realize that the completely successful life involves a partnership with his family, his community and his God. He should be told that education is a never ending process and only begins at the schoolhouse door. After having him in our classes and on our nerves, we are not the same! "We're better people, enriched by his presence, broader in our understanding of humanity for having known him. We think we have provided him with an unbounded opportunity to learn in an atmosphere that has as its principle purpose the development of well informed citizens who carry on the great traditions of America.
"We love him, too. Written also with prejudice." Signed, his principal.
To amplify my own sentiments with respect to this excellent article, every freedom loving American needs to take a positive attitude towards the schools in this nation and do what we can to make them better in the years to come. (Editor's note: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72032).