It’s my second period. When I walk in to my history classroom, the teacher announces what we’re going to be learning about today: the Civil Rights Movement. Immediately, I stop paying attention—I’ve learned about this a million times.
The history of African-Americans has been told many times and prevents other minority groups’ histories from receiving the recognition they deserve. In high school, we can open a textbook and read about the African-American Civil Rights Movement, but not about Japanese internment during World War II or the 1960s Chicano Movement. These events happened within decades of each other, but we only learn about one.
African-Americans’ stories were oppressed for many years, which gives them reason to be so widely discussed now. However, this means we are neglecting the publicity other minorities should be receiving. When the history of minorities is oversimplified to include only the narrative of black victims and white villains, everyone suffers.
Teachers seem to be obligated and expected to go deeper into black history than all other topics; it is as if this is the only historical narrative they are required to teach. However, according to Jessie Gerson, Chief Academic Officer at WriteBoston, teachers do have the freedom to structure the content they want to teach.
“Educators can't do anything they want, but they do often have a lot of leeway when it comes to designing the learning experiences of their students, including what students read, and I think that flexibility is a net positive,” she said.
Teachers have the opportunity to make their lessons culturally diverse; however, it seems that they do not take advantage of their freedom to teach all of the different narratives.
We need to make it so that all ethnic struggles in history are presented equally. If we start to hear the stories of all cultures, we can see that at one point every minority has struggled and contributed to the struggles of others.
The resolution to this issue is to put regulations on classroom lessons. Teachers should not have so much freedom in how they want to teach their classes and instead, have some regulations that require them to equally represent different historical struggles. The textbooks we use should have equal chapters on different minorities. There should be unified lessons across all Boston Public Schools so that students are learning about all minorities to the same depth, similar to Common Core State Standards. There should also be training that teachers must attend to assure that they are eliminating all biases when they are designing their lessons.
The way that we can possibly stop giving the wrong amounts of recognition to one race and expand our definition of history begins with teachers and lessons. The leniency given to teachers needs to subside. We need a more focused structure to get everyone to have an open mind towards all historic struggles.