If I teach students that current events and issues are immediate and very present here in Oregon, if I support them in seeing their own lives reflected in everything going on “out there,” I hope they won’t feel so overwhelmed by it all.
Our racial justice unit asks students to examine texts such as the documentary “13th,” Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me,” Kehinde Wiley paintings, and music videos and song lyrics by Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar. But last year I also asked students to read the article “The Racist History of Portland, the Whitest City in America” by Alana Semuels in order to understand their own state’s history of racist laws, redlining and gentrification. They also read “Students Have the Right to #takeaknee” by the Oregon A.C.L.U., which describes an incident in their own school when football players’ First Amendment rights were denied by their coach.
My students were eager learners for this unit, digging into the texts and discussion opportunities with a fervor that communicated their hunger for wanting to understand race and racism in their own community, even if they’d experienced racism firsthand.
– excerpt from New York Times, The Learning Network “When School Gets Real: Teachers Connect Classroom Lessons to Current Events”