What is a school's role in teaching about racism, past and present? We invited families to read Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States for Young People," in an effort to think together about this issue. Here are a just few items that came up in last week's discussion.
A five-year-old student in our school recently told his parents that he needed to
wear sunblock so he didn't get too dark...and thus get harmed.
Racism is a misconception, one that started purposefully. By creating a safe space that doesn't ignore but NORMALIZES differences, we have a better chance at addressing misconceptions. Som
This kind of teaching is not about "5 Hour Empathy," as parodied recently on Saturday Night Live. It's about being well-informed on issues and being willing to continually engage in meaningful work and discussions.
In the book, Zinn explains some of the ways and reasons racism originated in this country. There is a lot to unpack in the book, and whether or not you agree with all of Zinn’s narrative and assertions (there are some well-known critics), this is definitely not your grandfather's textbook.
Our discussion led into some ways schools can teach content in authentic, meaningful ways kids can understand and relate to, while addressing some of these hard truths of the past and present.
Helping kids take and defend a stance or perspecitve:
We also talked about normalizing differences through carefully selected literature, ambient representation, and the language we use/conversations we have. A few concepts to remember:
- Person First Language
- Be open to taboo topics
- Teaching activism, even in preschool
- Thinking carefully about where we get our news from
- PAWS is partnering with us on expanding Diversity, Representation & Inclusion resources (this is a long-term endeavor that will come, in part, from donations and community contributions)