August 7, 2021

Elizabeth Kleinrock: Students Say Teach the Truth

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Elizabeth Kleinrock is a Learning for Justice award-winning teacher. She asked students what they thought about the current panic over teacher students about diverse perspectives of US history.

Question: Right now, many teachers, parents and politicians are trying to pass laws to make it illegal for schools to teach about race, racism, gender and privilege, among other social justice-related topics. Some even call teaching about these issues brainwashing and believe it will cause people to be more divided. Do you agree or disagree? Why? 

  • I think it’s a good thing to have people teach children about race and racism because teaching is not just about teaching math, reading and writing, although those subjects are all important. It’s about teaching culture and history and being able to learn all the terrible things that have happened in history. And teaching children that racism is not a good thing will make an impact on the world later and just because people were born with a different color skin than other people, that doesn’t mean that they deserve any less that other people do. And I would like you to think to yourself of 3 really good reasons why people of color deserve less than you do. I sure can’t. (fifth grader)
  • It is important for kids to know about these topics. For example, I think the most horrible period of the U.S was slavery, because white people treated African Americans as animals, and that is not ok. We should all share the same rights, and be treated like humans. I think kids should learn about social justice topics like gender, race, feminism etc because it will allow them to realize the mistakes done in the past, so we don’t repeat it again. (eighth grader)
  • I think it is so important to learn about social justice in school. If children aren’t learning this then we will be going back in time. Separation and division will be more extreme as if we are to teach our generation what we have done wrong so they know what to do better. If we are ever actually looking for a future of equality then we must properly teach our future and present. (ninth grader)
  • Learning about race and racism is a very sensitive topic, but far from brainwashing. If people don’t start to learn, there really won’t be any progress, everyone will just keep hating everyone who’s different. It’s only a sensitive topic because people are uncomfortable talking about it, and that’s not right. In the future if people start to learn about equality, hopefully this topic will just be normal. (seventh grader)

Read the rest of this article–including more student responses–here.

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