Racial issues in the classroom (long)

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Teacheroo, Sep 20, 2007.

  1. Teacheroo

    Teacheroo Companion

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2006
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 20, 2007

    The big R word. ugh...

    I have a very wealthy, gifted, and diverse 6th grade class made up of mostly Asian and African American kids, a few Latinos, and one white. Recently a father came to me to discuss some things that had been happening between his daughter (K) and another girl (J) in my class. Apparently, "J," an Asian girl, completely fabricated this story about why "K," couldn't come to her house. The girl told her that her mother was accosted by three black men and that her family has some bad feelings toward black people because of it. So, in reply to this story, K's mother went to talk to J's mother. J's mother proceeded to tell her that the entire story was a lie. There have been other incidents at school with J making racial comments about black people in general and about K specifically. Then yesterday, J made a few of her friends "Pinky Promise" that they would not be friends with K because she is black. K has been completely ostracized by most of the class as she is extremely gifted and black and most of the other gifted students are Asian and J is Asian.

    K's father (the one who came to talk to me) is the Ethnic Studies/multicultural professor at our local university. He wants me to incorporate something into my classroom but I don't know how to really dive into this issue. We brought up Jane Elliot and the Brown Eyes/Blue Eyes experiment she did with third graders. I thought this would be really powerful but I just don't know how to go about doing it with a class full of brown eyes.

    Does anyone teach about discrimination in their classroom? Are you aware of any fantastic curriculum or resources? Any advice would be greatly appreciated and thanks for getting to the bottom of this!:hugs:
     
  2.  
  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,706
    Likes Received:
    1,122

    Sep 20, 2007

    Golly...

    Earlobes, maybe: whether earlobes are detached or attached (see http://www.answers.com/topic/earlobe-1).

    The human race does have a remarkable propensity to paint itself into a corner in the course of trying to paint someone else into one.
     
  4. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Sep 20, 2007

    There are many things you can do to put a stop to it, at least in your classroom. First, have a talk with the whole class that you will not accept this kind of disrespect for anyone. You’re a community of learners and everyone needs to pull for each other. Second, have you ever heard of the eggs demonstration? Get brown eggs, white eggs, speckled eggs (you can get quail’s eggs from an Asian store, or ask one of your students to bring one in) and if you can duck’s eggs, they are pale green. Talk about how different they all are in color and how they are all pretty (or whatever word you want to use). One by one break the eggs into a bowl. Ask them if they can tell (other than size) any difference. They all look the same on the inside. Just like people. And we are all ONE RACE—THE HUMAN RACE.

    Since you are teaching 6th grade in California, you will be glancing at world history all year in your social studies curriculum. Expand on it all you can and particularly emphasize the amazing history that Africans had starting from 4,000 years or so ago. Because it’s a shame that their history has been put into such a little box as their 250 years or so in America. You can find information in books or on the internet even. Bottom line, there isn’t one culture that is more special than any other. And also, you should add that every single one of us has the same pigment, just more or less of it. The more you have the darker your skin, hair, and eyes, the less you have the lighter. But it's all the same.

    I would face this ostracization head on. (TG, is that a word?) I have just had a similar experience in my classroom though not racial. Kids were actually pulling new students who made friends with this girl away from her at recess. Do not allow this to happen, not only does it damage the child’s self esteem but how is she to learn when her affective filter is so high? I cannot tell you how to handle it, because you are your own person with your own style. But it needs to be made clear that you absolutely will not tolerate it. After the talk in my class, every single student wrote this child a letter apologizing and saying what they like about her. And I told them they need to look out for her on the playground, too, and they have. Then I talked with the kids from other classes who were involved. They were so sorry, and from then on this child has had no problem. Most times when kids are being cruel it’s because they have no idea how much they are hurting someone. Anyway, she’s like a different kid now, thank God.
     
  5. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2007
    Messages:
    2,018
    Likes Received:
    178

    Sep 20, 2007

    I do not envy teachers for this bit of difficulty. Parents, of course, do not usually face difficulties with viewpoint teaching -- they just teach their kids their own views (generally). Teachers tread on much more difficult ground.

    Have you considered whether you might be overstepping your bounds to teach non-racism? While repugnant and foolish, racism is a legal view, and a surprising number of people still hold to racist ideas. And teach them to their kids, even rather explicitly. Essentially, to teach contrary to that is stepping on parental toes, and also telling the children how they should feel about certain topics. If you're "stopping ostracism", you're even trying to enforce social relationships. Maybe you should do it anyway -- I don't know personally if I would be able to refrain in such a situation, but I would feel uncomfortable about it. Likely I'd use a Socratic technique, asking them about their views and fostering conversation, leading towards a consensus of non-racism. It does help that you can teach about specific events in the past (Rosa Parks, slavery, etc.). You also might be legally required to advance a particular viewpoint.

    You might want to realize that there is a fair bit of racism among Asians as well, particularly between Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese. There may be a lot more bubbling under the surface than you're aware, especially if you have more than one variety of Asian in the class.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,706
    Likes Received:
    1,122

    Sep 20, 2007

    What Teacheroo describes is an overt campaign against someone in the class. That's behavior, and behavior is indeed something that comes within the province of the classroom.

    One could, perhaps, assign J and K to work together as a team on a project?
     
  7. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Messages:
    18,935
    Likes Received:
    679

    Sep 20, 2007

    Visit the website www.teachingtolerance.org

    You can get a free magazine subscription and other free programs to use in class.
     
  8. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Sep 20, 2007

    you are definitely allowed to teach multi-cultural issues and to overtly discourage racism. And we should. If the parent is foolish enough to teach it to their kids, they'd better be smart enough to tell them not to bring it to school. Kids and their parents can file anti-discrimination complaints against the student who is doing it.
     
  9. Teacheroo

    Teacheroo Companion

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2006
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 21, 2007

    Good discussion. I have been putting different quotations on the board everyday and asking the kids to respond to them. The quotes have been either about non-discrimination or about surrounding yourself with encouraging people. Today we had a class meeting that I felt went really well. At least I left today feeling that my class was a little more like they were when they entered in July. These kids have been together in the same class since 3rd grade. It's really no wonder that they have arguments. We talked a lot about brotherhood today and how we are a family.
    As far as the specific J/K issue, I have "dealt" with it. The VP, who is very good at dealing with tough issues like this, pulled the girls into her office and had a long talk with them. The problem is that just disciplining a child for something like a racist remark doesn't really get to the root of the problem. That's why I was asking about curriculum.
    And yes, 3Sons, I have asked myself that. I have wondered if the Asian mother didn't just let J take the fall for something that really did happen because she was faced with an African American in her kitchen. It's very hard to believe that in a school with so much diversity that there could be this much hatred towards people.
    Thanks for the egg idea eduk8r. I like it!
    And thanks everyone else for the ideas and websites.
    Keep 'em coming!
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,706
    Likes Received:
    1,122

    Sep 22, 2007

    Sounds like progress indeed, Teacheroo.
     
  11. deedee

    deedee Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    Messages:
    1,634
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 22, 2007

  12. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Sep 22, 2007

    teacheroo, that sounds wonderful.
     
  13. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

    Joined:
    May 13, 2004
    Messages:
    5,845
    Likes Received:
    149

    Oct 6, 2007

    Teacheroo, I was just wondering how your class is doing these days now that it's almost a month later.
     
  14. La Profesora

    La Profesora Cohort

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2007
    Messages:
    691
    Likes Received:
    0

    Oct 6, 2007

    I loved the egg idea! I would like to do that in teaching Biology and Race. thanks for the neat suggestion!
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Anna music teacher,
  2. Linguist92021,
  3. MrsC,
  4. Dare2Teach,
  5. stephenpe,
  6. MissCeliaB,
  7. Guitart
Total: 424 (members: 10, guests: 396, robots: 18)
test