With the latest events surrounding race in America, one can not deny that there is a shift in the way that we approach cultural topics in education. Because of technology and the accessibility of racially motivated violence on social media, students everywhere are being affected by the racially heated social construct in America today. Effective educators have the gigantic responsibility to educate at a time like this. However, the best learning is lived experience; The best educators understand that connecting those lived experiences to important concepts (with empathy) is key to effective instruction. People across the nation are shaken to their core and trying to fully comprehend how this impacts their schools, their families, and their understanding of reality and safety. With the effects of COVID-19 still underway, we are living a historical event; and you, as an educator, are the glimmer of hope that some students need to feel safe and understood.It may be easier to remain silent or ignore racism and its impact on your students, but some of them understand that it is a threat to their safety and well being. Families are having conversations about race, inequality, and their effects. It is essential to know that studies have shown on every occasion that they learn better when they feel safe. Setting a climate to not only learn but that introduces openness to experience in education sets the stage to make an impact in a major way. This blog will talk about what you should know as an educator as pertains to equity and antiracism in education.
Equity vs. Equality
There are many resources that you can look into to become well versed on this topic such as Teaching Tolerance, EdJustice, and Mindshift. Our history has set in motion things that have a resounding effect on students; but our past inequities do not have to be our present reality. Research on Racial Equity and Anti-Racist Teaching in Early Childhood Education has shown that we support policies that address these inequities, yet simply having access to high-quality early childhood programs does not ensure racial equity. For example, unfair practices have been widely documented in early childhood programs. It is widely known that African American children are punished more severely and more often than their Caucasian counterparts. Research shows that Black preschoolers are 3.6 times as likely to receive one or more suspensions relative to White preschoolers, and while they make up only 19% of preschool enrollment, they comprise 47% of preschoolers suspended one or more times.
However, research has also demonstrated that racial biases may be largely under environmental control! They can be shaped via educational, social, and legal policies. Being able to talk about race and racism leads to less prejudice in children; furthermore, avoiding conversations about racism does not help in preventing racism. There is power in communication in children as young as 6 years old according to Brett Turner’s first-grade classroom discussion on privilege and power. This is the reason that we need to work together to close the gap. Equality is treating all children equally, providing the same treatment for different ailments. However, as the Education Trust states, this is where equity comes in. The students who are furthest behind — most often low-income students and students of color — require more of those resources to catch up, succeed, and eventually, close the achievement gap. Giving students who come to school lagging academically (because of factors outside of a school’s control) the exact same resources as students in higher-income schools alone will not close the achievement gap. We are working toward closing the achievement gap when more effective teachers are placed in the classroom.
In a diverse classroom, the idea is to learn to use bias-free language, teach tolerance, or plan social action campaigns to facilitate learning. Our responsibility as educators is to help develop individuals who have the information and can build on the knowledge of today to create a better tomorrow for all people.
Stock Up On Information!
What you should know is that in most cases the dangers of racism for most of your African American students have always been a household discussion. While social media has made it a “topic of discussion”, it has always been in a lot of black households. Almost like the birds and the bees talk that all parents dread; but more personal, urgent, and deadly. For so long this discussion has been able to be pushed to the subconscious mind of many students, but today those fears have found their way to the forefront of their lives. This forces not only them, but all people to digest this trauma the best way possible, one bite at a time. This is time more than ever to step aside from you, and understand the people around you. Not the time to dismiss experiences, or to dismiss hurtful emotions, but to help students deal with them. The understanding that your own experiences are not everyone’s reality is socio-emotional learning and so important to teach all students. Communication is shedding light, which is important because dark feelings, attitudes, and thoughts grow in isolation. (Picture: Having 'The Talk': Expert Guidance On Preparing Kids For Police Interactions)
When speaking about Equity vs. Equality, you first have to understand your students and why this is important. Read from sources such as, The Root, The Undefeated, and Black Voices to gain knowledge and understanding. Many people believe that not talking about something will make it go away. As Kathleen Melville states in her article “Talking with Students about Fergusen and Racism”:
“It is crucial for educators to understand how race and racism can impact our students of color. And in a school system with students who are increasingly diverse but teachers who remain majority white, it’s especially crucial for white teachers like me to seek out productive ways to talk about race and racism with my students.”
This time is a time to look within. No matter who you are, if you are an educator, it is vital for you to isolate your own bias and replace it with knowledge. There is an importance and honor to your role in this situation. Create your own personal plan! Be sure to educate, and understand before you act. Here are some really great places to start to expand your knowledge and face your bias for the sake of all children and our future!
- 4 Black Lives Matter Myths Debunked
- LivingRoomProtest: Education Is a Human Right
- Netflix: 50 Black Movies
- Hulu: Black Stories
- Books that provide perspective
- Policy changes
- Racist is rooted in our history
- Let's get to the root of racial injustice
- 11 FACTS ABOUT RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
- Structural Racism in America
- Eight Lessons for Talking About Race, Racism, and Racial Justice
- Racial Discrimination, Ethnic-Racial Socialization, and Crime: A Micro-sociological Model of Risk and Resilience
- Embrace Race: The Challenge
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