Friday, February 3, 2012

Teaching Race in the Classrooms of America by Mrs. Dorothy Barron

         Teaching Race in the Classrooms of America by Mrs. Dorothy Barron
Do not avoid teaching Black History, allow controversy to prevent or become a deterrent to teaching Black History. What is taught, method and how taught are key points to keep in mind when teaching Black History. It is the struggles of a Race of people and much more; you will encounter race and racial issues, a plethora of emotions, as well as unresolved issues.
It is also important to balance the hardships, struggles and abuses with accomplishments and achievements of the Race.
The web was abuzz one or two weeks ago; according to the buzz, Math and History (inclusive of beatings and lynchings) were combined and presented in the form of Math problems as homework to students courtesy of a Second Grade Teacher. Parents expressed their concerns and or displeasure with the school administration.
First of all, to my knowledge and from what I heard, all the relevant details were not forthcoming; therefore, this post is not meant to serve as recrimination, a defense or offense. It offers some general comments and thoughts to consider about teaching race in the classrooms of America. The situation may have offended some, but it directly affected children, Parents and involved teacher at the school and impacted the school as a whole.
What I gleaned:
The Assignment and/or the way the assignment was presented was troubling; raised eyebrows and possibly much more.
Evidently, the teacher did not have knowledge of how deep the issue of race runs in America; was very remorseful and most likely, not inclined to repeat that particular assignment, again.
Information not readily available:
·         All relevant details

·         Specifically, what the Parents objections were: negative portrayal of the subject(s), manner in which it was introduced; the subject/course, etc.?
Things to Consider:
·         If the teacher was/is an effective teacher and no longer teaching at the school due to an honest mistake and poor judgment on an assignment; how does such impact both the teacher and students and what does such say about the nation as a whole?

·         Was the teacher approached by Parents first with concerns about the assignment?  If the situation occurred with any of us on our jobs, would we desire and appreciate being approached first instead of the boss or company president?

·         Controversy can serve as a method to deter the study of Black History.
Consider the following Actions to Take:
·         Schools should understand that Black History is more than a Subject. There are individuals and groups that can assist entities with the introduction of Race and race issues in both the classroom, business and other environments.

·         When teaching on the subject of Black History, to include only the adverse and negative aspects can produce an inferiority complex among some students. Include accomplishments and achievements of the African-American Race and contributions made by others.

·         One major problem is that most fail to teach the entire Black History story.

·         Parents who called or visited the school showed interested in their children’s education. Solicit their involvement – establish a committee of culturally diverse Parents and obtain their input on planned Black History activities and/or have them review proposed curriculum and activities. Perhaps, next year, interested Parents will request in advance the activities that will be taught and/or introduced on this subject or any other that you desire.

·         Utilize this situation – Parents, take time to share and teach some Black History to your own children.

·         Parents, you should be sitting some school committees (do not confuse with PTA/PTO committees).

·         Last, but not least, Black History is not an optional course, it is a part of America’s History and should be included in our studies.

Mrs. Dorothy Barron, Founder

Parents Taking Charge in Education


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