The Difficulties of Discussing Black History Month in the Classroom
Black History Month is February in America and October in the UK. It can be difficult, particularly in younger or special needs settings to educate children about the struggles faced by many black people in history. We don't want to keep the truth from you children but as a parent myself I know that some aspects of history which are too disturbing and we need to shield our children from some of these parts.
One solution to this problem is careful word selection. We do not need to express the exact words that were shouted by protesters, we just need to get across that the words were unkind and the situation was frightening. I am aware that some people disagree with this approach however, I think there is a certain level of maturity which needs to be reached before we can expose our children to the real level of suffering these people faced.
In my store I have complete lessons on Martin Luther King Jr. and Ruby Bridges which do educate about the difficult struggles they faced without being too explicit about the suffering. Please stop by if you are interested.
Some teachers prefer to stay away from the ugly parts of black history all together and focus instead on the achievements of famous black figures. This is a great way still celebrate black figures without the need to deal with difficult subjects. A excellent book for this type of lesson is the book 'Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History' by Vashti Harrison. This book is a great way to encourage your class to celebrate famous black women leaders and it approaches the topic in a sensitive and age appropriate way.
However you choose to teach your students about Black History Month it is important to take into consideration the sensitive nature of the topic and how your students (and parents) will react.
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