Christine Sleeter addresses problems in ethnic studies curriculum

Source: https://collegian.com/2017/09/christine-sleeter-addresses-problems-in-ethnic-studies-curriculum/

Christine Sleeter addresses problems in ethnic studies curriculum

Dr. Christine Sleeter speaks at the Diversity Symposium
Author, teacher and activist Dr. Christine Sleeter speaks about multicultural awareness in education at the 17th Annual Diversity Symposium in the LSC. The speech featured the changing analytics among ethnicities in the classroom and stressed engaging in multicultural historical viewpoints. (Brooke Buchan | Collegian)

Activist Christine Sleeter is white, from a community with very little diversity, and admitted she knew almost nothing about her student’s background when she began teaching in Seattle.

Sleeter, an author and a teacher in addition to activist, spoke about how the teaching of ethnic studies, or the lack thereof, can be improved. Sleeter spoke in the Lory Student Center Thursday night as part of Colorado State University’s week-long Diversity Symposium.

Sleeter emphasized the importance of having multicultural education and an ability to think critically about what other groups have to go through. She said in doing so, people will start to become agents of social change.

“I mean, we have a president who can’t even figure out how to get resources to Puerto Rico,” Sleeter said.

Sleeter said changes in teaching styles and curriculum can be an effective way to get students to think more critically about their culture and the cultures of others.

School textbooks that are heavily focused on white perspectives are just one problem, according to Sleeter. Of those who teach K-12, 84 percent are white, Sleeter said; the combination can lead to classes that leave out important topics regarding multiple ethnic groups.

“The fragmented inclusion of people of color in the dominant curriculum leaves students of color feeling like, as Caroline Turner put it, guests in someone else’s house,” Sleeter said.

She said ethnic studies can give people the ability to address social problems. Sleeter said she wants to implement several strategies to create positive change in classrooms. Teachers need to treat students as intellectuals and develop strong relationships with them, according to Sleeter.

“Teaching involves collaboration with students, co-construction with students,” Sleeter said. “It isn’t just sage on the stage giving knowledge to students.”

Sleeter said classroom curriculum should focus on examining real social problems in student communities. Students should examine the roots of these problems, collect data and ultimately propose solutions to offer to their community.

Freshman biochemistry student Matthew Funk said he could relate to a lot about what Sleeter talked about, as he went to an elementary school where the majority of students were Latino. He said these topics should be articulated more at CSU where the demographic is dominantly white.

“These are issues that are important to understand and to be able to talk to each other about,” Funk said.

Funk said he agreed with a lot of the strategies Sleeter suggested regarding curriculum changes in K-12 schools, but thinks the logistics of implementing these changes could prove challenging.

Sleeter ended the evening with the idea that ethnic studies is not limited to one subject within a curriculum. She told a story of a former colleague, who wanted to infuse ethnic studies with his biology course. Her colleague wanted to examine how different world views influenced health and an understanding of science.

“It takes somebody looking at their discipline through an ethnic studies lens,” Sleeter said. “If you can make biology and ethnic studies go together, you can make everything go together.”

Collegian reporter Ty Betts can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @TyBetts9

The Shocking History of My People and My State

The Shocking History of My People and My State
I didn’t think racism was much of a problem until I took ethnic studies.
Though the country’s first ethnic studies department was born at University of California–Berkeley in 1969 and the first ethnic studies Ph.D. program was established there in the 1980s, the discipline is still widely derided on that campus. People tend to think ethnic studies classes are full of disgruntled brown people ranting about “the system,” “oppression,” and “white/male/class privilege.” A common response to saying you are an ethnic studies major goes something like “Oh, so you don’t care about having a job.”

I, too, saw myself as someone who would never take an ethnic studies class, but for a different reason. I’m Asian American, born and raised in San Francisco, and every school I ever attended there was majority-Asian. This can skew your racial identity just a little. Not only did I never encounter racism, I felt like Asians were past that. We were one-third of the city’s population and had established ourselves deep in the city’s politics, cultural institutions, and society. There was no question we were Americans. We spoke flawless English. We wore American brands like Abercrombie & Fitch and Tommy Hilfiger and ate at McDonald’s and watched MTV. We had white friends. Racism was dead—hoorah!

I learned otherwise when I arrived at Berkeley.

read more …….

The Academic and Social Value of Ethnic Studies A Research Review

The Academic and Social Value of Ethnic Studies
A Research Review
Christine E. Sleeter (2011, NEA)

National Education Association
Research Department
Ronald D. Henderson, Director

 

What is the value of ethnic studies in schools and universities? Supporters say ethnic
studies promotes respect and understanding among races, supports student success, and
teaches critical thinking skills. Critics, however, increasingly question the relevance of
ethnic studies education programs in the post-integration era.

As issues involving ethnic studies take center stage in education policy and practice, the
National Education Association believes any discussion of the role of ethnic studies in
education and in student achievement rightfully begins by asking:

• What do we know from prior research and practice about ethnic studies,
especially as they relate to student achievement and narrowing achievement gaps?

• Are there ways to examine and talk about what we have learned that will enable
us to apply those lessons to creating and establishing ethnic studies programs that
support student and teacher learning?

The evolution of ethnic studies has sparked its share of controversy. NEA commissioned
a review of the research on ethnic studies programs and curricula—specifically the ways
in which such programs and curricula serve to improve student achievement and narrow
achievement gaps—to inform the discourse on this issue. This paper provides a research
base for discussing best practices for designing and implementing ethnic studies programs
and curricula that meet those targets.

We hope this review is useful for revisiting ideas and generating new thoughts about
the relationship between ethnic studies and student achievement. And we hope that our
efforts in this regard will help ensure a great public school for every student.

Dennis Van Roekel
President
National Education Association

read the article at http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/NBI-2010-3-value-of-ethnic-studies.pdf

Students fight assault on history

Students fight assault on history

This is a tale of two countries.

The first country was built on a radical new promise of human equality and a guarantee of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That country made it possible for even those born in the humblest and most meager circumstances to climb to the pinnacle of prosperity and achievement. It helped save the world in a great global conflagration, fed and rebuilt the devastated nations of Europe, planted the first footprints on another world.

The second country was built on the uncompensated labor of human beings owned from birth till death by other human beings. That country committed genocide against its indigenous people, fabricated a war in order to snatch territory belonging to its neighbor, put its own citizens in concentration camps. And it practiced the “science” of eugenics with such enthusiasm that it inspired advocates of mandatory sterilization and racial purity all over the world. One was an obscure German politician named Adolf Hitler.

Obviously, the first of those countries is America. But the second is, too.

This would not come as a surprise to any reasonably competent student of American history. But that is a category that soon may not include students in Jefferson County, Colo. The good news is, they are not taking it lying down.

To the contrary, hundreds of them staged mass walkouts from at least five area high schools last week. They chanted and held up signs in protest of a proposed directive from a newly elected conservative school board member that would require teachers of history to “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system.”