Commentary: I am Wasting my Time Teaching about “Shithole” Countries!

From The Washington Post

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to countries mentioned by the lawmakers.

Trump then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries such as Norway, whose prime minister he met with Wednesday. The president, according to a White House official, also suggested he would be open to more immigrants from Asian countries because he felt that they help the United States economically.

I have taught New York State Global History and Geography since 2003.  So, according to the current resident of the White House, I have been teaching about shithole countries for fifteen years. What a fool I am!  I’ve been wasting precious class time!  American students don’t need to learn about every place in the world.  The leader of the free world has now dismissed vast swaths of the world’s population, so why should I teach about inconsequential locations and peoples?

The leader of the free world has now dismissed vast swaths of the world's population, so why should I teach about inconsequential locations and peoples? Click To Tweet

Yes, maybe I will stop teaching a unit on disparity where the students view a movie on the practice of Haitian children eating “dirt cookies.”  That would free up more time to learn about the French Revolution.  Like Norway, France is in Europe, so according to the logic of the President of the United States, France is superior to Haiti.  Right, Haiti was a French sugar colony.  So next October, I will omit the discussion of Haiti leading the Latin American revolutions and not highlight Touissant L’Overture’s struggle to plant the black tree of liberty. No, according to the President of the United States, Haiti is inconsequential.  Trump believes that Haitian immigrants bring nothing of “merit” to the United States. If I have any students of Haitian or Caribbean descent, the will believe their story is not essential.

This spring, I will scrap my unit on decolonization which focuses on African countries.  Students won’t learn names like Jomo Kenyatta and Nelson Mandela.  Mr. Trump is telling students that those men were just leaders of shithole countries and should be forgotten. Independence is only an important topic in American history.  Mandela did not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, I suppose.

My students will be delighted to be no longer required to identify the location of countries outside of the United States.  They often complain vehemently about map tests.  Frequently, I hear students say things like:  “Botswana is a country?” and “Where is Sierra Leone?”  For many students, tenth grade is the first year they encounter the names of foreign lands.  Claiming the names and locations of distant nations encourages students to learn other’s narratives and connect the dots of historical events.  But, the president is permitting me to end geographic instruction, because according to him people of these nations live in huts. By not teaching about the entire world,  I will have more time to sit on my lazy, union-loving butt and drink coffee!

By not teaching about the entire world, I will have more time to sit on my lazy, union-loving butt and drink coffee! Click To Tweet

If I followed this train of thought, this past Friday (January 12)  was a waste of class time.  I administered a quiz where students were tasked to identify African nations.  Why should a student need to locate twenty African countries on a map to pass an assessment?  I am sure Mr. Trump would have scoffed at my sense of embarrassment as I handed out the outlines of Africa.  He would be puzzled as to why I struggled with the necessity of discussing the elephant in the White House.  My lesson was about world war one,  a war America won, goddammit– Mr. Trump would tell me to explain America First instead of worrying about disease-ridden places.

In the future, I will teach the curriculum as I learned it back in the good ole’ days, the 1990s.  Back then, New York State (as well as most other states) presented history through a Eurocentric model.  Back in the day, graduates did not engage in a robust study of non-European stories.  When I began teaching Global History, I taught myself the revised curriculum.  I guess if I am going to make America Great Again, I need to scratch the teaching of the Mughals, Mansa Musa, Touissant L’Ouverture, Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, etc.  Shit hole topics, from shit hole nations.

I wonder why New York State went to such trouble to revise the ninth and tenth grade Global History and Geography curriculum?  Some bleeding heart reformers probably believed that when children cannot easily travel to distant lands and experience unfamiliar cultures, their social studies teachers would open their minds to the fact that people outside of the United States are capable of achievement, prosperity, and a rich historical narrative. These same revisionists wanted minority students to see role models demonstrated in school subjects; they also wanted majority students to view people who are not Caucasian as their equals. The New York State Education Department naively regarded non-European stories as legitimate and integral in the study of world history–how silly they were.

I am looking forward to viewing my student’s score reports on their state assessment in Global History and Geography in June.  I am sure my principal will be happy to hear that the President of the United States informed my instruction.  When my students perform poorly on the Regents Exam, I am sure Trump and Secretary Betsy DeVos will support me in my patriotic endeavor.

From now on I will only teach about America and her allies.  I will be a good soldier in Trump’s fascist regime. I will always proudly stand for the national anthem, no matter what.  I will look at all foreigners as terrorists. I will promote racism, sexism, Islamaphobia, and xenophobia. 

If President Trump gets to keep his job, I am sure I will too.   

 

 

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About the Author:

The more I teach, the more my compassion for students, parents, and teachers grows. Thank you for reading my thoughts.

One Comment

  1. Jennifer Wolfe January 15, 2018 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    Well said. So much of our current administration – like, all of it – goes against my every principle – inside the classroom and out.

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