I spend a great deal of time helping teachers design high quality curricula that engages their students while building critical content knowledge and sharpening important skills. We invest significant energy in deepening our understanding of our standards, promising teaching and assessment practices, and alignment on and across varied grade levels. If you're a teacher, you've likely done the same.
So, I'm wondering: How does your curriculum honor your students' cultural legacies?
That's a tough question, I know. I also know that when I was still in the classroom, I never contemplated the answer in any real way. In fact, with the exception of the multicultural celebration that my school district hosted each year, I don't think that I or many of my colleagues spent enough time inviting our students to explore let alone deeply understand or share their cultural legacies.
And it's so important that we do. Malcolm Gladwell received great attention and some criticism for his attention to cultural legacy in his popular book, Outliers. And Ellen and I are well aware of so much that can go wrong when we begin to treat cultural legacy as a powerful force that influences our abilities to be successful in this world. We know that this might invite stereotyping. We know about the dangers of generalization.
But we also believe that studying our cultural legacy is one way we come to know ourselves and one another better. Knowing our history is important. Knowing our people's place in that history is empowering when we are taught to interpret the facts through a strengths-based lens. In my experience, this helps us appreciate our differences and recognize all that we have in common as well. When we create curriculum that honors students' cultural legacies, we elevate relevance as well.
How do we make this happen inside of our classrooms if we've committed to follow a carefully constructed curriculum that leaves very little room for this kind of learning? How do we cultivate compassion without sacrificing content knowledge?
This week, we're book-talking solutions to this problem. I've shared my initial reflections in the video above, along with an invitation to dive into Hack 6. Start reading whenever you're able, and know that I'll return on Wednesday with a set of reflective questions and some opportunities to chat more. You don't have to dive in now, either. Remember that Ellen and I are archiving every book club post right here. Return any time, and use as you wish.
We're hanging out on Facebook and Twitter if you would like to chat more, too. I'm @AngelaStockman there. @EllenFeigGray is happy to talk with you, too.