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- What a Teacher Wants: One Teacher's View - March 25, 2018
- Artist is Not a Dirty Word - March 18, 2018
- The Death of Reflection in English/Language Arts Classrooms - March 9, 2018
- More Than A Teacher - March 4, 2018
- Real Teaching Resolutions - January 5, 2017
- 23 Times I have Questioned My Sanity While Teaching - September 7, 2016
- Part 3: Adventures in Real Word English/Language Arts - Let Them Be Great - August 23, 2016
- Part 2: Adventures in Real World English/Language Arts: Making Them Care - August 4, 2016
It is Black History month. Some schools read a little quote in the morning from an African American author, some put on full programs, and others ignore it all together. One of the most terrifying things that could happen to this country is to forget where we come from. Black history is essential to understanding ourselves as a nation. Every year, we dedicate February to Black history. As an American Literature teacher, I am so lucky to have a diverse curriculum to pull from and I do not have to wait until February to share it. We study the beautiful words of Langston Hughes, the wise advice from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and the honesty of Maya Angelou.
In my class, we are on Civil War literature. (I try to give a range of literature in every perspective as I do with every unit.) My students were conducting a literary analysis in groups. One group began to have a conversation about Black history month. I love it when my students talk about serious topics with such passion. They spoke of how there is more to Black history month then Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They spoke of how they do not trust their American History book because of its bias. They also spoke of how Black history is only mentioned in twice in American history the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. They were upset that teachers do not let them talk about such things because it makes people “uncomfortable.” I was amazed how these “kids” could see how unfair the school curriculum can be. What made me so proud of them was that they all wanted to be part of history. They said they want to be doctors and lawyers- give young people someone to look up to besides sports heroes and music stars. One mentioned football is his way out, but he did not want to be just a football star. He wants to do something great and make a difference, now he doesn't know exactly what yet, but he wants to make a difference. This is why we MUST teach about history. ALL OF IT. We need to show all students that anything is possible whether you are black, white, green, or purple. We need to show them the American Dream is still alive. As long as you are willing to work, you can be anything and it doesn't matter where you come from. So we have to show them this.
English classes gives us such a wide range of opportunity to study and analyze a culture that is much different than that of our own, not every subject has this opportunity. Black history month prompts discussion of African American science, civil rights leaders, modern political leaders, authors, and much more. It gives an opportunity for other subjects to pull articles and events. It reminds us to look at ourselves and see how far we have come and how far we have left to go. It would be different if this country naturally integrated curriculum with African American, Native American, and even Asian American authors, but we do not. Sometimes we need reminding and in a way that is what Black history month gives us-- a gentle reminder.
Celebrating a culture for all it has contributed to this nation’s history can only be a good thing. Why wouldn't you want children to explore where they came from and what makes this country so special? Black history month reminds to walk in another person’s shoes and see where they've been. It is so easy to forget where this nation used to be. And frankly, as my students said many people want to forget. It is a hard to talk about what we have done wrong in the past, but we must learn from our mistakes if we want to move forward. It was only one hundred and fifty years ago, when the United States had slavery, and only fifty years ago when our lives were segregated along racial lines. How can we not acknowledge these events in history? More importantly, how could we not teach about these events to our children? But we have to remember there is more than these two events in Black history and we have teach our kids about everything. We MUST give them something to hold on to and show them that the American Dream is still possible for all of us.
This is a wonderful resource: http://www.nea.org/tools/lessons/black-history-month.htm