For our very last blog post of the semester, I thought we would be able to take the time to do some reflection and see what that looks like in the field of Psychology. For my child development class, I have been working on a toolkit for the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, in partnership with the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement. This toolkit will include evidence based-recommendations for teachers to access during their teaching careers in order to achieve what this class has been working to achieve: as much inclusion and support as possible.
In the last couple of Child Development classes, we have carefully read empirical and anecdotal articles about single-sex schooling and the effects, or non-effects, it has on student performance and sense of belonging, to name a couple, as well as how single-sex schooling may not be backed by scientific evidence to conclude that single-sex structure improves student academic achievement.
Along the way, we reviewed how psychologically, mentally, and emotionally challenging it might be for students who do not conform to cisgender, heteronormative identities. The LGBTQIA+ community will tend to feel less of a sense of belonging, and the single-sex structure and heteronormativity may discount and devalue their identities, which is very detrimental to children and young adolescents’ development.
Dr. Hunt discussed how some Republican senators are pushing to pass a bill that bans LGBTQIA+ instruction in the form of literature/texts, videos/documentaries, and such. This is very disheartening for many reasons. Recently, I have thought about teaching in Nashville, where I am closer to an environment of interest and some family. I, myself, also identify as a gay cisgender male. So, to hear about what has been happening in Florida and in Tennessee with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the banning of LGBTQIA+-supportive instruction gives a little sense of hopelessness for those with political power and disappointment that our careers are in the hands of white men in power.
Read one or both of the articles below, and let me know what your thoughts are about everything that has been discussed and anything that you want to bring in from the class.
Thank you guys, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
During our last class I was chatting with Bethany and Emily about the challenge of teaching problematic historical figures to the younger grades. Bethany pointed out that the SOL for grade 2 specifically asks teachers to “describe the contributions” of Christopher Columbus. The first time I encountered the Columbus section of the The People’s History of the United States, I had to literally put the book down and walk away. It was that upsetting. Knowing what I know about Columbus, I was more than surprised to see him included on the agenda for second grade.
So how do you teach terrible history to young children? Do we sugarcoat figures like Columbus and hope to bust the myth later, when they’re old enough to learn about slavery, genocide, and caging women and children in pens? Or do we give them the tools to think critically about the towering historical figures that our country still celebrates?
In search of an answer, I went to Google and found some great resources that might help us begin to bust the myth of Columbus at an early age. Teaching History has a great post on different approaches to teaching Columbus from K-12. I especially liked the recommendation for the book Discovering Christopher Columbus: How History is Invented. The book includes primary source documents appropriate for young learners (as early as second grade, I would say); I firmly believe that primary source work can help teach students to think critically about original documentation, to consider multiple and differing perspectives (including colonized cultures), and moreover, to understand that history is itself constructed. I think books that work with primary sources are a good, age-appropriate start to teaching students how to think critically about the past (the lesson that history is a construct is huge, I think) and are a good way to start grappling with problematic figures like Columbus.
Anyhow, this is all just my two cents. How would you teach Columbus or other figures like him, especially to young children (K-2)? Should we remove Columbus from the SOLs, or should we be forced to reckon with a fuller account of our history?
This episode of the Teaching Hard History Podcast may be of interest to you.
Teaching the Movement’s Most Iconic Figure – w/ Charles McKinney
“Throughout this season, we’ve been confronting the popular but misleading “Master Narrative,” which revolves around a caricatured version of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To fully understand the movement, our students need to learn an accurate version of Dr. King’s life and activism. In this episode, I talk with historian Charles McKinney about the real Dr. King. “