This Kentucky Kitchen Table was held on November 11, 2018 at my house in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The people who participated were myself, my mom, Courtney, my dad, Scott, my little sister, Sydney, my younger brother, Logan, and my mom’s friend, Michelle. My dad works at WKU and is the Head of the Department of Music. My mom works at the Presbyterian Learning Center as a preschool aid is a very caring person who takes care of the house. My little sister is always full of energy and is a second grader at Briarwood. My mom’s friend, Michelle, was a very fun person who was a really great participant in our discussions.
The first topic we talked about was the question “Beyond voting, paying taxes, and following laws, what does citizenship mean to you?” Everyone at the table had their own response to this question. My dad, Scott, said that citizenship means everyone in a community working together to make the community that they live in even better than it already is. My mom, Courtney, is a very strong believer in Christianity, so her answer was one of the commandments, in which citizenship means that one should love thy neighbor. Logan said that it was difficult for him to come up with a specific answer outside of voting, paying taxes, and following laws, because those are the things that he usually uses to describe citizenship. Next, we all talked together to come up with more things that could make up citizenship. We said things like being a democracy and everyone having an opinion, the background and history of the cities that citizens live in, as well as recognizing and appreciating each other’s differences, were all things that had to do with citizenship.
The next topic we talked about was about the disrespect that high school teachers were receiving lately. I decided to make this a topic of conversation due to something I recently saw on the news. A teacher at Maywood High School in California asked the student to leave the classroom because he was not wearing the proper uniform. However, instead of leaving the classroom like he was told, he started hurling racial slurs at the teacher. The teacher than got so angry that he started punching the student, and it turned into a huge brawl until they were separated by the students and staff. This is probably the best example ever of how high school teachers are disrespected. On the news, various students and family members were on the side of the teacher, and everyone at the kitchen table said that they agreed. Regardless of the reason, that student had no right to act the way he did and we all said that he got what he deserved. Teachers are trying their best so that they can give us the skills we need so that we can have a more successful future. Everyone agreed that teachers deserve the respect of their students, and they should be treated that way. We thought that the teacher had every right to retaliate in the way that he did. Now, although I agreed with everyone else at the table, I said that I still thought the teacher could have tried to solve the issue in a more peaceful way. So while I think that the teacher should not have been disrespected in such a way, I still said that I thought he should still be charged for his actions against the student.
The next thing we talked about was the question “What kind of person do you want to be?” My dad, mom, and Michelle are already adults in their mid-40’s, so they’ve already become the people they want to be. I never really heard what Michelle’s occupation was, however, she did tell me that she helped out with a lot of volunteer work for the clubs at Greenwood High School. She was someone who was willing to take her spare time assisting others rather than for herself, and she said she was really proud of herself for it. As I said before, my dad, Scott, is currently the Head of the Department of Music at WKU. Although playing the drums is what he is best at, he at least knows the basics to most instruments you can think of. Since my dad said he has always loved music for as long as he can remember, and that he has already become the kind of person he wanted to be. My mom is the same. When responding to this question, she said she has already become what she wanted to be. Although she left college early in order to marry my dad, she was trying to become a teacher. She now is a preschool aid working at Presbyterian Learning Center and is also a loving mother. She has also already become who she had wanted to be. For me, I said that I wanted to be a mechanical engineer. I have always enjoyed math as well as putting things together, and since it also pays well, I thought mechanical engineering would be the perfect profession for me. My brother, Logan, said that he was looking into music education. Just like my dad, my brother is a drummer and can also play the guitar a bit, so he said that was the thing he wanted to major in when he goes to college. Right now, my little sister, Sydney, says that she wants to be a dancer because she is currently taking dance classes and she seems to really enjoy it.
I thought our discussion was quite similar to one of the central questions for Honors 251 “How can people live better together?”. Just about everyone at the table thought of citizenship as a way for everyone in a community to live well together, and the topic we discussed about high school teachers needing more respect from their students helped to show one of the many ways people could live better together. Just like mentioned in “How We Talk Matters” written by Keith Melville and others, if we talk and work together, then we can solve problems better. I think that when people who do not know each other and talk to each other, and if they are able to embrace each other’s similarities and differences, then that would be one of the prime examples of citizenship.
During this Kentucky Kitchen Table, I learned just how important it could be to talk to people you have never spoken too people. When you talk with someone you’ve never spoken to before, you are reminded just how similar or different someone else’s opinion could be. There were sometimes when Michelle had a lot to say, and other times when she barely spoke compared to everyone else. I also learned that there are times when people can be a lot more passionate about a certain topic than one would originally think. For example, when we talked about how high school teachers deserved more respect, my brother, who usually doesn’t talk much, spoke much longer than anyone else did. He is currently in high school, so it makes sense that he would have a lot to say about it, but I was still surprised when I saw just how passionate my brother was on the subject. I was also surprised with how mature I was being. I interrupt people a lot because I often get caught up in my own worldview and shut down contrasting opinions as incorrect, but sitting at dinner with these people allowed me the opportunity to connect with them like they were family, thus opening my mind to why people believe what they do. With this, I think I will be much better at listening to what others have to say from now on.
In conclusion, this discussion turned out a lot better than I had expected it to. In my experience, forced discussions were always very awkward, and since I usually eat dinner silently on my own, I was quite surprised with how naturally everyone was talking. I think that having a good discussion with others is a lot more fun than eating all by myself while I watch videos on the internet.