With Netflix (or is it Amazon Prime? Maybe both?) offering free access to movies depicting events of the civil rights movement and the African American experience, you’ve got a great excuse to come in from the 98 degree heat.
Watch some great history. Learn some stuff. And extra bonus?
Get some free stuff.
I posted this article back in 2015 after the movie Selma came out in theaters. And saw a great connection between the film and the amazing collection of free lessons and videos from Teaching Tolerance.
The free stuff was awesome then. And it’s still awesome now.
I finally got the chance to see Selma over the weekend. And afterwards, I tweeted out that it’s a “must see.” Having had a chance to digest a bit and talk with others who’ve seen it, I’m still convinced. The movie does a great job of Read more
“. . . it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”
Let’s be clear.
I really have no idea what I’m talking about. As a middle aged white guy born and raised in Western Kansas, who taught 8th graders in a suburban school district and higher ed at a small liberal arts college, I’m probably the last person who might have some answers to the issues of racial injustice and systemic racism in the United States.
But I do know that I need to take responsibility for trying to figure it out. How to start? By acknowledging the privileges I enjoy because of who and what I am.
I’ve never enslaved others or transported kidnapped Africans to North America or passed Jim Crow legislation or attacked civil rights workers. But I can acknowledge that the world I live in was built by people who did, as part of a system specifically designed to benefit me and others like me. Uncomfortable as it is to admit, some of my actions in this world have directly or indirectly contributed to further divisions. And I need to continue learning how best to work alongside others to correct the flaws in that system.
As a history teacher, it’s easy for me to think of America in the abstract. But we need to recognize and admit that there has always been two Americas. The abstract one – the one we aspire to, a place of equality and freedom and idealism and democracy. You know, the America we teach our kids.
And then there’s that other America, the actual one we all live in. For many of us – especially those of us living and teaching in small, rural, mostly white communities – life can seem like the one we teach. So it’s easy to forget how big and diverse and ugly and difficult the real America is for many around the country – and if we’re honest, how difficult it is for some in the small, rural, mostly white communities as well. The disconnect between those two realities has always existed but events this spring have made that disconnect more obvious for many of us.
There is no amount of Read more
I’ll be honest. I’m having trouble processing the recent hate inspired events in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
But one thing that has become clear to me over the last few years is that the more we talk about racism and discrimination – starting with the fact that they exist – the better chance we have of combating their effects.
To ignore these shootings and the shooting attack on Oslo’s al-Noor Islamic Center four days ago and the June arson fires of three African American churches in Louisiana and the May arson attack on a mosque in New Haven, Connecticut and the March attacks on New Zealand mosques and last year’s attack on a Pittsburg synagogue and the 2017 demonstrations in Charlottesville and the 2015 African American church shooting in Charleston and all of the other too numerous to mention incidents . . . to ignore as teachers this pattern of violence – not to mention what is happening online – seems like educational malpractice.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we shouldn’t teach our kids about what has and is happening in this country and around the world.
But I don’t think I am.
I think we have a responsibility as social studies teachers to give our kids the tools they need to make the world a better place. And part of that skill set has to include conversations about past and present intolerance. Is it easy? No. Can it be done. Yes. (You might try this, or this, maybe this, and I love this.)
Another way to create that skill set is to do a better job of focusing on the human stories of the Holocaust. I know that many of you teach the Holocaust and teach it well. But as you’re planning your nine month scope and sequence to include these sorts of conversations, would you mind if I share a few semi-random thoughts? Read more
Four times a year, I get the chance to be part of the ESSDACK social studies PLC. The PLC is an offshoot of our last Teaching American History grant with the same goal – improve our history / social studies teaching knowledge and skills.
And last Wednesday, we got ton of both from Sheryl of the awesome Echoes and Reflections site. Sheryl’s on a nationwide tour, providing professional learning opportunities across the country, sharing strategies, best practices, and resources for teaching the Jewish Holocaust.
It was a powerful and emotional day, aligning perfectly with our focus this fall on teaching controversial and uncomfortable topics. (You can still access our September Google Doc with teaching resources and ideas.) Sheryl used part of the day to highlight different sections at Echoes and Reflections but much of her focus was on how best to integrate the Holocaust into our instruction.
First things first, the Echoes and Reflections site is a must see. Read more
The Kansas state social studies standards are designed to “prepare students to be informed, thoughtful, engaged citizens as they enrich their communities, state, nation, world, and themselves.” Different benchmarks under each of the standards require that students make connections between the past and contemporary issues.
The recent Kansans Can Vision developed by the Department of Ed is pushing schools throughout the state to focus on authentic civic engagement and integrate it across grades and content areas.
I’m sure that you have similar sorts of standards and expectations where you teach.
It’s pretty simple really. When kids are informed and thoughtful, when they understand the necessity for being civically engaged, and when they actually put into practice the ideas outlined in the founding documents, our communities and our country are a better place.
And now . . . we have the recent events in Charlottesville.
Your task as a social studies teacher has never been easy. Connecting past to present can make it harder. Conversations about race and violence harder still. It can be easy to just wait for things to blow over. But if we truly believe that what we do makes a difference, those conversations need to happen.
What can that sort of conversation look like?
The words of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are a good place to start: Read more