When I was a professor, I taught elementary literacy, educational psychology, schools and society, and multicultural education courses. One of the journals that I looked forward to reading each quarter was Teaching Tolerance. This periodical was always offered and still is offered as a free publication for educators from the Southern Poverty Law Center. The quarterly volume was always stocked full of informative, thought-provoking, and enlightening articles that covered a broad array of educational topics through a social justice and diversity lens. I highly recommend that all professors in the College of Education subscribe to this periodical. In the 20th Anniversary Issue, I read several articles. The ones that were most intriguing were:
Getting the Civil War Right – This article discussed how the Civil War is erroneously taught. Key questions are answered such as whether war was fought over slavery or states’ rights; or did enslaved men fought for the confederacy? This article was written by James Loewen who is best known for his book The Lies My Teacher Told Me. As a former 8th grade history teacher who taught the Civil War in the South, this article informed me of erroneous information that I might have conveyed when I taught this part of American history.
Game Changers – This article discussed how physical education can be taught as a more inclusive curriculum. It tells the story of an overweight student who dreaded PE and how he was resolved to receive an F in the class in order to avoid the chiding by other students and the lazy accusations that was assailed by the physical education teacher. The author discussed how cooperative as opposed to competitive strategies made it more fun for everyone to play and learn. For instance instead of having races, students set individual goals and challenge themselves to surpass previous goals. The student who hated PE was encouraged to set a time goal for running or walking around the track and to establish a target time for him to aspire to in order to receive a completion grade for this task. As a large-bodied youngster, physical education was not my forte. I would have appreciated this approach that was sensitive to my emotional as well as physical well-being.
Straight Talk about the N-word – The article starts with this introduction. “The n-word is unique in the English language. On one hand, it is the ultimate insult – a word that has tormented generations of African Americans. Yet over time, it has become a popular term of endearment of the very people who once had to endure it.” After reading this article, I think about all of our students who might encounter this word as an endearment, but still due to the historical heinousness of the word will not know how to respond. I wrote an article about the use of the n-word and how to deconstruct it in literacy classes when reading books such as Huckleberry Finn or To Kill a Mockingbird. I encourage the reading of this article as well as reviewing my article to better understand how to prepare our students if they encounter this word.