Sunday, September 22, 2013

More Examples of How NOT to Teach Children About Slavery and two Positive Examples for Teens and Up

I was awakened rather early this morning by multiple text messages and phone calls from my sister and emails from friends about the episode below of the Melissa Harris Perry Show. I love this show. She is so good at publicizing the stories other news programs for one reason or another ignore.

Today's episode briefly discussed to recent incidents of what I like to call "when teaching about slavery goes wrong". In the coming weeks I hope to spend more time talking about good examples of teachers or programs that teach slavery intelligently. Today we will do two bad examples and one good.

The BAD

#1
MHP discusses an assignment her daughter received.

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The curriculum her daughter used The Underground Railroad: Escape from Slavery by Scholastic.
What do you think of this curriculum and what it teaches?

#2
African American Connecticut 10 year old was made to take part in a slavery reenactment that included being called the N-Word, being told that she is not a person but property and... "dumb dark skinned negro person how dare you look at me". This program was called Natures Classroom. The purpose is to create experiential learning experiences for kids.

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More about Nature's Classroom's past incidents. The article below is from the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance cite. It poses several very interesting questions about experiential learning. For instance, are they really necessary in order to encourage a child to relate to a traumatic historical event? Could this type of learning traumatize or even re-traumatize young students who may not feel comfortable enough to say no to an authority figure?

"Classroom Simulations: Proceed With Caution"

"When Maya Saakvitne's parents sent her for a three-day school field trip two years ago at Nature's Classroom, a camp in western Massachusetts, they didn't expect her to come home with a tale of her feet falling asleep after counselors asked her to kneel in the hold of a make-believe slave ship. And keep her head down even though some of the other 5th-grade classmates from Jefferson Street Elementary School were crying. Nor that the same class later would sneak through the woods at night in a simulation of an escape along the Underground Railroad...

According to the curriculum for the Underground Railroad activity, the goal is 'to encourage students to think and act in ways that Africans trying to escape slavery thought and acted,' and to 'create a physically and emotionally safe, yet challenging experience.' This included a pursuit to freedom, where students encountered a bounty hunter to 'reinforce feelings of helplessness and frustration,'...

Some educators claim simulations have unparalleled power in sensitizing young people to oppression. But others, including prominent diversity education groups, say it's time to stop. Simulations, they say, are both dangerous and unnecessary."



The GOOD

#1
I cant wait to spend a bit more time digging into this. I have heard some great reviews so far. "The First Step to Freedom" the Schomberg's Emancipation Proclamation Curriculum "http://www.nypl.org/sites/default/files/ep_curriculum_guide_sc.pdf" 


#2
Ask A Slave!!!
So this is my new favorite webseries and one of the best things I have ever seen come out of historical interpretation. Azie Mira Dungey created and stars is this hilariously smart show about Lizzie Mae a young woman who is enslaved to George and Martha Washington. Dungey was a historical interpreter at Mount Vernon before moving to California and starting this webseries. The show is based off of her experience as an interpreter and the incredibly ignorant questions she was asked by visitors to Washington's historic home in Virginia.

Just watch!! First Episode

New episodes are up each Sunday. To watch more click the link above.


This show makes me laugh out loud every time. 


Especially this moment when she brings in a new guest on the show. He is an abolitionist who works for Prez Washington and has clearly never interacted with a black person before. After finishing his tea and deciding that she is some how both intelligent and well spoken, he asks to touch her hair. Now that I have gone natural I feel as though I have sat through this exact scene far too many times. See that look on her face? Yeeeeeah 











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