A place for educators to find thought-provoking news, conversation and support for those who care about diversity, equal opportunity and respect for differences in schools
We asked our 25 Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board members what advice they would offer to fellow educators about Black History Month. Each of these experienced educators offers a wealth of expertise, especially when it comes to bringing multicultural topics into the classroom.
For two years I taught preschool to a diverse group of energetic children. Every morning one boy would enter the classroom, throw down his stuff, run over to the dress-up corner and slip into a shimmery polyester wedding gown.
"When you went downtown, did you see a hobo?" The tone was mocking with a giggle at the end.
I cringed. Turning around, I saw one of my students: a young girl with freckles and a polka dot bow in her hair. She was a student who always had a smile to share, was the first to offer an extra pencil if anyone lacked and was always willing to help others. The callousness of her remark was out of character. I wondered if she was repeating something that someone else had said. Perhaps she just thought hobo was a funny word.
Twenty-eight teachers in my master’s level class silently moved en masse to the right side of the room to signify that they would teach the civil rights movement to their elementary students.
In fact, most considered it negligent to ignore this historic movement that brought about the end of segregation in our country.
In 1967 the Supreme Court ruling on Loving v. Virginia went a long way toward making marriage a right that more Americans could exercise. In Loving, the court decided that laws prohibiting African Americans and white Americans from marrying violated the Constitution. The Loving ruling said, among other things, “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.”
I’m probably a bit more familiar with children’s books than the average college student. Having a preschool teacher for a mother will do that to you. So it’s never a surprise when she sends me email about new books. This week, the email linked to a story announcing that The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats—a book I loved as a child—is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
A group calling itself “Passive Activism” claims on Facebook that it’s dedicated to “spreading awareness about people who spread awareness, rather than actually do something for people who actually do things.” I admit, I laughed. But it’s really not funny.
My nana is laughing as she tells me one of her favorite childhood stories. As her cheeks lift into a smile, I can see the teenager who boldly told her teacher that threats to visit Nana’s parents about her behavior are ineffective. “You see,” she said, “they don’t speak any English.”