What I really enjoyed about reading Beyond Heroes and Holidays was its direct approach in stating that multicultural education is anti-racist education. My group focused on reading the section on anti-racist education, covering the three gaps observed in the education system:
1. Academic gaps due to racism
2. Individual and Social gaps
3. Community gaps.
Our group identified potential solutions by what the teachers can do (technique/professionally) and what the various systems can do (institutional/system), discussing the core issues observed at the inter-personal level (classroom dynamics, teacher-child relations) and at the systemic level (curriculum, community resources).
For example, some of the skills and techniques that a teacher can work towards incorporating into their teaching is trauma-informed teaching, or having projects reflect place-based learning. Our group spoke about how if we were to look at a snapshot of high school classrooms across the United States, they may all look very similar, despite being in different regions. We also talked about how teachers have the ability to redefine classroom relationships, by addressing the students as ‘friends,’ or ‘my partners,’ as opposed to calling them ‘kids,’ or ‘children.’
Systemically, our group spoke about addressing the issue of track-based curricula (‘AP’, ‘Pre-college’, ‘Advanced’), and how to redefine what it means to be ‘Advanced.’ We also addressed the importance of community and parental involvement, and the importance of closing the gaps between the culture within schools and the culture outside of schools, which is widely perceived to be separate. Beyond Heroes and Holidays described a teacher who went out into nearby neighborhoods with their students, looking at graffiti/street-art, and bringing that into a lesson plan in the classrooms.
Some of the questions raised:
– If schools and classrooms reflect a subsection of the local community, how would you want, as a teacher, to have your classes reflect that? (For example, if a tourist/outsider wanted to visit your classroom instead of a museum as a source of knowledge about the local community)
– For parents, by trying to cater to the needs of your own offspring (which, of course, most parents do at any level), are you also aware of how that may indirectly take away access for others?
– How to we redefine classroom dynamics/relationships, and the curriculum content?
– If teachers conduct parent/teacher conferences in their own classrooms, is there already a power & control dynamic in place? Should these meetings happen at a local community center?
Image source: https://www.ncu.edu/sites/default/files/pictures/parent%20student%20success.png