The new buzzwords in education include diversity and personalized learning/instruction. First, if that were true regarding teaching trends and practice in schools, then we would graduate more racially literate, globally competent learners. However, it seems that personalized learning does not imply a genuinely tailored approach to instruction. Teachers aren’t teaching African American youth to be literate in the one major human aspect of teaching to inspire learning, which also impacts life goals, trajectory, intrinsic motivation, curiosity and engagement. That is cultural history- heritage-ancestry. Yet, students will attend classes in our schools for more than a decade and they extensively and exclusively learn about the significance, historic importance, contributions, triumphs and challenges endured by whites. In the historical realm, somehow it is called Social Studies, American History, World History, too.
Diversity is not just physical attributes, like skin color or language differences, and not ethnic or religious affiliations either. In an education system, specifically a school setting, the respect for the diversity of students-all learners- provides each student an equal opportunitry to learn and succeed within that environment. Not only must a child learn about others, but they must learn about themselves, as well. To respect and demonstrate genuine respect for diversity dictates that, in lieu of population served, there must be opportunities to learn specific cultural knowledge-knowledge of self.
Do we affirm the African American child in school? If so, how? We definitely affirm the white child and the legitimacy of the white experience in America. We teach it-from k-12 and beyond-everyday and everywhere. In fact, that is how we perpetuate white privilege and entitlement. We teach it.
In social studies curricula, we legitimize untruths, half truths and devalue all other lives and life stories. By far, our renderings of the history of this country alone is storytelling at it’s best, propaganda. At is worse, negligent. Should we honestly wish to represent ourselves as a democracy that values the lives and contributions of ALL its people, and we take a good look at our past and our history, as a nation, we would understand and acknowledge the mere stupidity to believe the stories that we tell every child who ever attends our publicly funded schools.
How could we continue to teach children, or just briefly cover the period of slavery in America, and not mention anything else about those whom were enslaved? Nothing about the lives of the Africans or their descendants who were held in bondage. Nothing about the good these people did for this country as free laborers. Nothing about the contributions made to the world. Medicine, agriculture, science, electronics, military, aeronautics, math, beauty and hair care, construction, music, literature, dance etc.,….
How did they cope, recover, survive, thrive? Where are they? It is clear that they survived and weren’t all killed off or haven’t all returned to their country of origin. And, if that is so, then where were these people in history, and over the centuries before, during and post-slavery? It makes total sense that racism, bias, discrimination, and mass incarceration still exists in this country and impacts the lives of a group of people who look like those peoples of the past era of slavery.
We omit them from history, and dismiss them in textbooks, and therefore we are omitting and dismissing them in the hearts, and minds of everyone-black people especially. Every day, we are demonstrating to black and brown, and white children that blacks are not to be counted in the past remembrances of this nation. In the United States of America, Africans were brought here as slaves, held in bondage for centuries, and during that time, only one or two persons of color did something for the good of this country, and we shall briefly[1 or 2 paragraphs] acknowledge them in school.-That is what we are telling our children-yours and mine.Moreover, post-slavery, only 1 or 2 persons of color deserve recognition, also.
What we do recognize and highlight each and every bad deed or criminal acts [allegedly]committed by the ones who are alive today. What is the narrative here? The people who deserve recognition represent but an exception to the rule. What are we telling all of the children who has ever attended our schools about black people? What are we telling the countless children who are black about themselves, their places in society, and where they fit in? Get the picture?