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Posts tagged ‘racism’

History Nerdfest 2018: Unpacking color consciousness

It ranks right up there with the Holiday season, KC Chiefs football, and the first weekend of the college basketball tournament. It’s National Council for the Social Studies conference week. I’m lucky enough to get front row seats and am trying to live blog my way through it.

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Bob Marley was playing as I walked into Saturday’s first session.

I’m not complaining. #NCSS week is always awesome (and I was able to catch Hamilton last night so even awesomer) but Saturday morning is hard. Since Wednesday, I’ve met old friends, made some new ones, preformed my civic duty at House of Delegates, sat in on some committee meetings, and generally jumped into the deep end of history nerdness. But Saturday is when this stuff gets real. Multiple sessions today – back to back. Learning because harder.

So Bob in the morning makes life just a little easier.

And a quote from Yuri Kochiyama, American activist, set the tone:

“Remember that consciousness is power. Consciousness is education and knowledge. Consciousness is becoming aware. It is the perfect vehicle for students. Consciousness-raising is pertinent for power, and be sure that power will not be abusively used, but used for building trust and goodwill domestically and internationally. Tomorrow’s world is yours to build.”

Ruth Berson from Note Dame High School in San Jose is guiding the conversation this morning about encouraging and implementing a color conscious learning environment. Her first piece of advice in the process in becoming more aware and color conscience is becoming aware of the issues.

We talked quite a bit about the types of bias and the differences between bias and racism by digging into implicit and confirmation bias. And chatted about how that can lead to what Ruth labeled Read more

Tip of the Week: Teaching the Holocaust, Anti-Semitism, and Making Choices

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

Tip of the Week: NCSS Charlottesville response & suggested teaching resources

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

History Nerdfest 2016 Day Two: Integrating Critical Race Theory into the US History Curriculum

Last night I had the opportunity to listen to John Stokes recount his experience as an early civil rights activist. Long story short?

In 1951, John was a high school senior at Moton High School in Prince Edward County, Virginia. Upset with the unequal educational facilities that existed as part of Jim Crow, he and other students staged a walkout and strike that later became part of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education  Supreme Court case. His account of that period and the connections Mr. Stokes made to the present was amazing, frightening, engaging, and compelling all at the same time.

march-book-three-coverAnd this afternoon, I had the chance to sit together with about 2000 other social studies teachers listening to Georgia Representative John Lewis talk about the events described in his graphic novel March.

So it’s very appropriate after hearing from these two Civil Rights heroes to participate in a conversation about Critical Race Theory and how we can use it to support class discussions of race / racism. Lauren Meyer from Yale is sharing “little nuggets” that teachers can use to integrate the topic as part of their instruction.

What is Critical Race Theory? Read more

Raising racist kids

Wired Magizine’s GeekDad Jonathan Liu recently highlighted a new book called NutureShock: New Thinking About Children. Authored by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, NutureShock disproves many of our assumptions about how kids grow up thinking about race and race relations.

It is tempting to believe that because their generation is so diverse, today’s children grow up knowing how to get along with people of every race. But numerous studies suggest that this is more of a fantasy than a fact.

According to Liu and the research in NutureShock, here’s how to go about raising racist kids:

Step One: Don’t talk about race. Don’t point out skin color. Be “color blind.”

Step Two: Actually, that’s it. There is no Step Two.

Congratulations! Your children are well on their way to believing that <insert your ethnicity here> is better than everybody else.

What Nutureshock documents is that most white parents don’t really talk with their kids about race.

The attitude (at least of those who think racism is wrong) is generally that because we want our kids to be color-blind, we don’t point out skin color. We’ll say things like “everybody’s equal” but find it hard to be more specific than that. If our kids point out somebody who looks different, we shush them and tell them it’s rude to talk about it.

More research:

  • Only 8% of white American high-schoolers have a best friend of another race. (For students of color, it’s about 15%.)
  • The more diverse a school is, the less likely it is that kids will form cross-race friendships.
  • 75% of white parents never or almost never talk about race with their kids.
  • A child’s attitudes toward race are much harder to alter after third grade, but a lot of parents wait until then (or later) before they feel it’s “safe” to talk frankly about race.

Basically . . . silence is not golden if what we want is for kids to be tolerant and open-minded of others. So how does this apply to the classroom?

I think we’re often afraid of discussing potentially uncomfortable topics with our students because, well . . . it’s just easier not messing with it. This includes the topic of race relations.

So perhaps the best advice? Talk about differences, provide examples of positive collaboration, read authors from a variety of experiences, be honest about the past and be open to discussion.

A good place to start would be the Legacy of Brown site created several years ago as part of a Teaching American History project. You’ll find both print and web resources on race relations, lesson plans and document-based question strategies.

Because it’s too easy to ignore the important stuff.

Photo – University of Haifa

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