Posts Tagged ‘curriculum’

So, I’ve been thinking about Twitter, how race intersects with (English class) curriculum, and snacks, always snacks. Last night all those things came together.

Currently, #GlobalEdChat is in a prime column in my TweetDeck, and when I had a few minutes Tuesday evening to wanted the twitterverse, I saw this tweet from the Asia Society.

 

I sent the image and the following message to all teaching colleagues at my school:

Colleagues,

I rarely send bulk emails, but I am making an exception for this timely bit of information. This Thursday’s GlobalEdChat topic is teaching about race. (picture went here)

The conversation is organized by educators at the Asia Society and is from 8:00pm-9:00pm. If you have never participated in a Twitter chat, now’s a great time to start. If you just want to listen in (which means reading what folks have to say) you don’t even need a twitter account. Learn how to follow along in under 3 minutes. Or, if you already tweet, maybe try using Tweetdeck. Learn how in under 2 minutes.

Also, if you want to participate with friends (i.e. me), I would be happy to have anyone interested join my at my table and (borrowed) projector to watch in real time. I live very near school and have room for friends to join me around the table. I have also been known to feed people who show up to my house. Let me know if you are interested and I will tell you where to go/park.

Thanks for considering,

Wendy

By Thursday night at 8pm, there were 5 of us around my table (not all of whom had the same racial or ethnic background), several others who had planned to be there but could not, and a few more participating online on their own. (I am not sure what I would have done if all those people actually came to my house. My table, wall, and dining room are not that big.) With my borrowed mini projector, I projected my Tweetdeck screen on the dining room wall. Then, just before the chat started I got to sneak in a little just-in-time lesson about the world of Twitter and we were off. Luckily the chat was not a very speedy one. When they move quickly and have many participants it’s really hard for those new to the format.

We had several side conversations, as you might imagine. But what we did was talk about race. And, as basic as that is, it is impossible to teach anything about race without first talking about race. And, honestly, it is probably more specific than that–without talking about race with someone of a different race. People felt passionately about ideas and experiences. They said so. But I think they also felt comfortable that the other folks literally around the table were there with good intentions. Why else come out at 8pm on a Thursday when we have Friday off?

Spoiler–we did not solve the puzzle.

But, as I sit at the same table 12 hours later, I know we started doing something. I had already talked with most of the people around the table about race and school and curriculum. But, talking in this small group, with some great questions from the chat, with food and no bell about to ring is different.

We have work to do at our school, and we are committing time and people to that work. It is going to take a lot more evenings around tables.

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CCO Public domain image

So, I’ve been thinking about my own support of students of color, colleagues of color, and a curriculum of color in my school.

I hope that I am an obvious and effective ally and advocate for all of the above. However, as a white woman who is married to a white man and who lives in a fairly white neighborhood, I know I am missing a lot. My regular adventures outside my neighborhood are not enough. My conversations with colleagues are not enough. The books that I have managed to put in my courses are not enough. The articles that I read are not enough.

I read something by a journalist (whose name I cannot remember or I would attribute) who said that he or she at some point decided to be deliberate about having gender balance in his or her sources or quoted experts. Once making that conscious decision, it turned out not to be that hard, surprise, to find women experts; it just took paying attention and not being lazy.I think I can take this example to heart. It’s not hard to expand the voices I notice. There’s been talk about how Twitter is dead or at least passé. Personally, as an educator, I still find it immensely valuable. And, it is another way for me to expand my circle of things I notice. So, I have been very deliberately adding many more voices of color to my twitter feed. My “home”

There’s been talk about how Twitter is dead or at least passé. Personally, as an educator, I still find it immensely valuable. And, it is another way for me to expand the voices in my circle. So, I have been very deliberately adding many more voices of color to my twitter feed. My “home” tweetdeck column is changing for the better, and it’s leading me to other resources.

It’s not an end, but it’s another step in the right direction.

 

Eames TimelineSo, I’ve been thinking about social studies and history. I am the co-chair of the PreK-12 social studies/history department at my school. One of the issues we are always coming up against is the fact that history is not getting any shorter, in fact it’s getting longer every day. We can’t teach it all in 4 years of high school, we can’t teach it all even if we add in 3 years of middle school. And, expecting that content that gets taught in lower school will not need to be taught again at a more sophisticated level is a pretty high-risk move. So, that leaves us thinking about what to take out.

The careful reader will notice I did not talk about “covering” anything. If we are just interested in covering the material, and we are ok with going at break-neck speed, we could cover a lot. However, that gets us back into a high-risk situation–a high-risk that not a lot will get remembered. If that is the case, why spend the time at all? Well, as you might imagine as the department co-chair, I happen to think that history and social studies are important and worth doing well.

That brings us back to what to cut out, because seriously folks, there is no way to do it all. We need some depth not just breadth.

So, here are my questions. Feel free to answer some or all. (I could really use some comments here. Not only has it been a bunch of posts since I have had any responses other than spam, but I would love to get some ideas.)

  • How much US history is too much?
  • Are some time periods more equal than others?
  • How important is geographical distribution?
  • Can some topics/time periods be breezed through lecture style to leave more time for others to get in-depth treatment?
  • Is so, which ones?
  • Ancient history, how much time should it get?
  • Medieval history, an important and interesting time or understand the feudal system and move on?
  • How much time to spend on art, music, literature, and culture of the time?
Did I mention I would love some ideas?
(Super cool photo by Nat Tarbox used under creative commons license)