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  Case: I Wish I Were Black!
As a teacher of 5th grade students, I try to make sure that my students have a good sense of all the people and cultures that make up this country. Last couple weeks, I paid special attention to the African American people who have made significant contributions to the US. We read a book written by Walter Dean Myers. We have studied scientists, writers, and political figures. Students were very engaged and interested in the content. Yesterday something happened that puzzled me. Three of my White students told me that they wished they were Black. This was not my intention when I planned all my lessons on contributions of African Americans. How should I address this issue?
Solution: (Rates are posted for this solution!)
It is great to hear that you are working to include as many people and cultures in your teaching as possible. This is an excellent practice, especially to somewhat combat the typical bias in most textbooks or curricula towards an Anglo Saxon view of history (whether done intentionally or not). When your students asked this, I would then ask them why they want to change in this manner. If it is because they think that the culture of these African American people is really interesting and appealing, then I would remind them that they can certainly work to adopt some of the practices of this culture. I do not think there is anything wrong with admiring a culture and wanting to imitate it. However, if your students want to change because they think that these people accomplished all of these feats because of their culture, I would have a conversation with my students about what culture really is. Culture may have pushed those people to behave a certain way, but that is not what ultimately enabled them to accomplish these things. Remind your students that they cannot really change their appearance or their background, and there is no reason to do so. They are who they are supposed to be.
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: I agree with you that there is nothing wrong with students admiring another culture and wanting to imitate it. I think we all want to imitate things we admire. I think you are wise to recommend reteaching what culture is if students misunderstand.
Rated On: June 1, 2015 4:28 am
Rated By: uqeXun