All posts by Aiden Spence

The Danger of a Single Story

 

Hi everyone!

               During class this week, we discussed teaching “hard history” (Learning for Justice), including slavery and American Indians. Within this topic, we explored the history we learned and what is still taught (Columbus, Presidents with enslaved people, etc.); collectively, we felt this was not doing anyone justice. As mentioned in previous posts and classroom discussions, we can not ignore parts of history; although we morally may not want to talk about Columbus, we need to (even if it is just to fulfill the SOL). However, we do our due diligence and tell both sides of the story.

               We watched the first two minutes of The TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story   (or if you’re in Diverse Learners, the entire talk); I remember in high school also watching it after talking about The Carlisle School. We are always so quick to tell our students and children, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” “give someone more than one chance,” etc., but we are hypocrites by only giving a single story when teaching history. I loved Adichie’s point to start with “secondly,” begin the story of American Indians with their arrows instead of the ships coming in from England; this does not eliminate either storyline but still tells an entirely different story. We can see this too with the book A Fine Dessert; unintentionally, the author tells three different single stories which worked to normalize slavery, the elite whites, and the division of labor. This is a single-story, but it is not the whole story – luckily, Dr. Stohr has shared with us multiple books and resources to utilize when looking for an appropriate and complete story to teach our students.

               Do you all have any single stories that stand out in particular to you? Further, have you given into the single story? Even Adichie, conscious of her thoughts and actions, fell victim to subscribing to a single story. Lastly, any thoughts on her talk? I find it so powerful, and despite seeing it multiple times, I’m always moved and entertained by her words.

Have a great spring break y’all (‘:

Who Decides What History We Learn?

         

          Tuesday during class, Dr. Stohr mentioned in passing how difficult it must be to pick which famous figures in history we learn about. This statement sparked my imagination; if I were to create my curriculum from scratch, who would my students learn about? Further, what in general would my students learn about? In a quick google search “deciding what people in history to teach about,” I stumbled upon a WordPress blog from a curriculum creator while reading; this quote struck me. 

“Debates about curriculum content will be fiercer in history than in most other subjects because many people feel their histories are an important part of what makes them who they are, and the range of what can be taught is so broad” (Newmark, 2020).

I couldn’t help but think, “how true” history in a general sense is so broad, and everyone has a different history. If permissible, we would all advocate for our own desired history curriculum. However, each state uses a committee of educators, curriculum specialists, academics, and community members to create its own standards for history (Schwartz, 2021). As we know, politicians too have a say in education and what our students are being taught; I wondered what you all think? Who should have the final say? Personally, I believe teachers/educators should have more say as they are the ones teaching. Further, I think different outside groups that advocate for our populations (i.e., a woman’s rights or Black rights group) can work with committees to adopt a more culturally aware history curriculum. Truthfully, America has had a dark history, but it should not be swept under the rug; instead, we should teach a well-rounded and authentic history. 

 

An interesting extra site to look at:

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/who-should-decide-how-students-learn-about-americas-past/385928/