"We Wear The Masks"
We Wear the Mask
WE wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.
-Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
Although these are two paragraphs from Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem, it poignantly describes how most students operate in schools. The true emotions they are feeling – the pain, the hurt, the frustration, the helplessness, the loneliness – is covered with THE MASK. The mask is worn daily. This mask looks like disrespect. This mask looks like defiance. This mask looks like complacency.
But, how does a kid who has not been taught how to express themselves constructively or who has not been taught how to communicate their feelings, not wear THIS MASK? Do you really blame them for trying to hide what is really going on? They have been placed in situations most adults can not bear to endure. Yet these children, day in and day out are asked to enter into a class, with a teacher, who may or may not understand them – asking to perform tasks that just aren’t priorities for them. They are wearing THE MASK.
No one has ever asked them why they are wearing THE MASK. Nor have they asked them why they need THE MASK.
If the MASK is not worn, the heart will be exposed. An the exposed heart will become the broken heart. The pain from the broken heart is much too painful to bear. Sooooo, THE MASK emerges.
As teachers, we must begin to identify the MASKS, help to understand the need for the MASKS and slowly help our students learn to remove the MASKS.
“Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.”
Will you help to remove THE MASKS???