Just three days after the presidential election, with raw nerves and a lingering feeling of aftershock, I gave a presentation at the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) national conference in Cleveland. My presentation partner, Dr. Shari Saunders (Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Teacher Education at the University of Michigan School of Education), and I were not sure what to expect.
The NAME 2016 national conference theme focused on amplifying “the voices of those who suffer marginalization in various forms; and in doing so expose inequities that are ignored and silenced.” To address this, Dr. Saunders and I focused our session on teaching institutional discrimination in secondary classrooms, and offered clear and effective instructional methods to move beyond posters, holidays, and “diversity days.”
Our core objectives were to:
- Illustrate methods for connecting multicultural education to required standards (Common Core).
- Demonstrate how this can support curriculum depth and educational equity in an era when schools are narrowing curriculum due to testing.
- Demonstrate methods for sequencing in-depth instruction on race that gradually and effectively builds students’ understanding of institutional discrimination.
We were blown away by the high-caliber of educators who awaited us. Their eagerness to apply what we offered was validation that our work is not just about bringing diversity lessons into the classroom, but to ultimately change the story of the educational system. We are inspired by our colleagues and allies working in K20 classrooms across the country.
Keeping the Momentum
The timing of the conference — just days after a divisive, controversial candidate was elected to the highest political role in the world — was a powerful opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to equity and social justice.
Our mission is an uphill battle. It always has been — we’ve been pushing this particular boulder up the hill for years and it can feel like a Sisyphean task. The rock of institutional change is heavy and seemingly immovable at times, but we were reminded again that with many hands, we can roll it inch-by-inch. And, unlike Sisyphus, we plan to get this metaphorical rock up the hill once and for all.
Now, more than ever, the work we do at Creative Change needs to be shared with educators and students across our country. If you’re interested in what we can do for your district or university, please contact us here. We start with a free consultation.