Sunday, November 23, 2008

Six Goals: Antiracist Teaching and Aboriginal Education

Antiracist teaching is a core consideration as we develop Native Studies courses and look at the integration of Aboriginal education into other subjects in Avon Maitland secondary schools. Across the DSB we are offering 11 senior level courses in Native Studies, with the hope of improving awareness of Aboriginal issues, history and culture for all students. Although there is a focus on Aboriginal Education, the responsibility of antiracist teaching does not fall to Native Studies teachers alone. Students will benefit when all teachers incorporate antiracist teaching into their classes.

The key points that emerge from a review of research on antiracist education follow:

1. Move beyond multicultural teaching that teaches kids about diversity, and help students understand social issues through antiracist and anti bias teaching. A favourite exercise for several Avon Maitland Native Studies teachers involves viewing and discussing Jane Elliott’s blueyes/browneyes documentary, available on video from the AMDSB media centre. One brave teacher actually reenacts this exercise with her students. The activity addresses ethnocentric perspectives and internalized oppression. Elliott’s website explains that

Jane Elliott, internationally known teacher [and] diversity trainer . . .
exposes prejudice and bigotry for what it is, an irrational class system based
upon purely arbitrary factors. And if you think this does not apply to you . . .
you are in for a rude awakening.

2. Use examples that incorporate different lenses. Introduce real life current issues into all subject areas, but be careful not to focus on negative news all the time. Kids need to hear about the positive things going on in the world too; otherwise, they will learn to be indifferent in self-defense. Good things are happening somewhere every day and could enlighten kids in a much more powerful way than a steady diet of tragedy and human failure.

3. Deepen Character Education by fostering inquiry and analysis of one’s own values. Move beyond merely telling students about values, but get students to delve into the nuances of the values. Eg. Does fairness mean sameness? Studies show that people with higher moral development have lower levels of racial prejudice.

4. Promote cross cultural group contact. In diverse student populations, this can happen within schools. Teachers in less diverse schools and rural areas may have to explore alternative ways to bring different cultural groups together to learn and share. This is one reason why every Native Studies teacher is trying to incorporate an experience into their course in which the students get to interact with First Nation, Metis, or Inuit kids/adults.

5. Acknowledge that racism exists. Examine issues and offer counter examples of stereotypes. ETFO has plans to publish a new antiracism kit this year; the Human Rights commission also has great resources that are free and very useful.

6. Present knowledge about cultures, racism and power in ways that concern students, in ways that have personal meaning and importance. Native Studies offers plenty of opportunities to address this in a very powerful way. Meeting and sharing with Aboriginal people can help to get past the victim/victor images and help kids to understand the human side of issues.

Take Jane Elliott’s take action survey.

Watch Jane Elliott’s original documentary from 1968.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please share your comments.