I think it is so amazing to see that curriculum is being developed to support the students within schools. Too often, students of color are disenfranchised and not represented in the curriculum of their schools. Additionally, students who are not of color may not be conscious of the experiences of people beyond their own experience.
For example, look at this image that has gone viral for a student of color’s response to a teacher’s instruction regarding Christopher Columbus. (2017)
First of all, this teacher clearly needs serious sensitivity training when it comes to teaching cultural topics. At this point in time, is there anyone denying the atrocities committed by European “explorers” or more appropriately conquistadores — conquerers! Even if the colonization of America (or more accurately, the Caribbean) by Christopher Columbus is part of the curriculum, why is the violence and oppression and genocide of the indigenous people he imposed also not included? And then when a child obviously has knowledge of that information… why is there not a validation and acknowledgement of that? The fact that a student is knowledgeable enough about the topic, and CONFIDENT enough on top of that, to speak his truth when it is clearly not going to be well received… this child deserves praise, not distain!
That is why more room needs to be made for alternate voices of history. Alternate perspectives. As the famous quote goes “History is written by the victors.” we know this, and if we want to truly be informed, and what our children to truly be informed, we need to include multiple perspectives on issues, even at the elementary school level.
Additionally, more training for cultural competency needs to be more integrated into not only teacher training programs but ongoing PDs (professional developments). New York City has recognized the need for this, perhaps due to the diversity of its population. Teachers are now required to complete an implicit bias training. In spite of the diversity of the student population, the majority of teachers in the city are white. Check out this article with specific statistics that are shocking about the lack of diversity among teachers who serve predominately black and latino students in NYC. Is priority (i.e. funding and time) being given to teachers in other locations with similar needs? In districts where students of color are in the minority is this even being raised as an issue? Teacher with reactions to students like the one above need more training, support and education around other cultural narratives and experiences. Exclusively Anglo-Eurocentric paradigms need to make way for other voices.