The group exercise associated with Beyond Heroes and Holidays text was a very productive and safe way to have a conversation about race and privilege that may have been difficult to structure otherwise. I appreciated the opportunity to have conversations on the topics of how race, class, and culture relate in the classroom. As teachers that are coming into the field from multiple walks and experiences we have to be cognizant of our own presence in the classroom as facilitators of discussions and the sharing of thoughts and experiences. The space and time allotted for these conversations plays a vital role in our ability to keep the conversations civil and on track while keeping the students on task. When we focus on multicultural education, the input from scholars and our peers can allow us to move beyond our own understanding and foster collaborative approaches to social justice.
The portion of the reading assigned to my group was the introduction piece and I really appreciated how well the different aspects of the book were summarized. The section that stood out the most for me was Our Education Philosophy. I really appreciate that the authors stated that “There is no formula for multicultural education from a critical standpoint…” I think that this speaks to the idea that as educators we need to be flexible in how we approach the subject or how multicultural knowledge is implemented. I really appreciate that the authors instead chose to share guidelines to help educators create a framework to guide the creation of lessons. The guidelines ask a series of questions such as:
-Does the lesson draw on the knowledge and experience of the students?
-Does the lesson help reveal the diversity and complexity of the issues and fields it addresses?
-Does the lesson use a variety of instructional methods to stimulate students’ multiple ways of learning and understanding?
-Does the lesson reinforce the idea that students have individual and collective agency and help to develop that agency?
-Does the lesson convey a politics of possibility and hope?
In addition to these questions, the authors also ask two additional questions that allow the focus to further deconstruct race and racism:
-Does the lesson challenge stereotypes and correct misinformation about peoples of color?
-Does the lesson expose the deep historical and institutional roots of racism and its devastating effects on both peoples of color and White people?
If we are able to employ this understanding in the classroom across all subjects then we may have a better chance in seeing a more equitable and empowered society in the generations to come. I think that by this method being modeled and utilized in the classroom, students will learn to ask the right questions and have the language to discuss issues of inequity.
“Justice is what love looks like in public.”-Dr. Cornel West
(image courtesy of twitter.com/cornelwest)