Every world-changer, social activist, and revolutionary stood on the shoulders of those before them.
Every student in our classrooms deserves to know that they deserve justice and that they have the power to support a future of justice.
Here are some tips, resources, and practical ideas to serve you as you teach tomorrow’s leaders:
1. When it comes to primary source analysis—–>Teach it first, teach it specifically, and teach it often. Learning to analyze primary sources is a tough skill. It requires higher-order thinking. Sometimes it involves reading, sometimes looking at art or an artifact, sometimes listening to music or looking at a photograph or map. Begin the year practicing this skill with various resources and circle back to it frequently. I kept Primary Source Analysis worksheets on-the-ready, printed out in an accessible location all year long. Access them here.
2. Utilize These Resources:
- http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/education/009/100for100socialjustice: “On this page, we have curated primary sources from our archives that relate to peacemaking and social justice issues.”
- http://www.tolerance.org/national-treasures: “This toolkit will equip you with strategies to engage students in primary source analysis. By learning the right questions to ask, students will come to a more nuanced understanding of history.”
- http://www.primarysource.org/for-teachers/online-curriculum: “Welcome to Primary Source World featuring teacher-created, classroom-ready activities designed around key primary sources…These activities shed light on topics that are often misunderstood and give voice to under-represented groups and their histories.”
3. Use Music. With online music databases and the Library of Congress National Jukebox website, teachers today can access music from a vast swath of human history. Compare music in the same genre as written by different people from different backgrounds and ethnicities. You can search by genre, time period, and much more. There is nothing like music to truly immerse your students and engage their brains.
4. Be Clear About Why Some Voices Are Left Out: You may face resistance from students or parents if you choose to set aside Mark Twain for Christopher Paul Curtis. Students may want to know why they have to search harder to find sources from people of color or why minority descriptions of an event or time period are different than the official narrative. Teach your students to ask the tough questions:
Who benefits from telling a story a certain way?
Who is left out?
What would happen if another perspective were emphasized instead?
Also, don’t be afraid to remind students and parents that social justice is intentional, and will never happen without effort and deliberation.
5. Act it Out. Have students act out an event in history or a scene from a novel or play that the class is reading from multiple perspectives. For instance: retell the story of the moon landing from the perspective of someone in mission control, a loved one at home, and from that of an alien watching from their home planet. How are each of the perspectives true and real, yet different?
Whatever you do, don’t let your students leave your classroom thinking that history is one story. This lesson must be repeated and practiced over and over and over! We spend our lives learning how to see the world from another’s point of view. Let it begin in the classroom!
What changes have you seen as you focus on social justice in the classroom? Which resources do you find yourself relying upon?