Showing posts with label civil rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label civil rights. Show all posts

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Banning Critical Race Theory Undermines Educating Students Honestly

For the past several decades, talking honestly about equality is how many educators have responded to Critical Race Theory or CRT in the classroom and beyond. The future, however, with respect to the issue being taught honestly in public classrooms  is in doubt as Republicans in many states work to cancel any mention of  it, along with the associated  atrocities that have occurred throughout history.  Demonization of the ambiguous term will certainly make future news; however, in the meantime, it's vital for teachers to cover the topics associated with it.


As a professor perched into a position that advocates for concepts associated with CRT such as diversity, social justice and equality, I’ve come to introduce to graduate students in teacher education many aspects of  the misinterpreted term, which has become a hot topic also addressed by broadcasters of every persuasion and one that is being censored in schools by some state and local governments. CRT has evolved into a wedge issue that will prevent teachers from honestly guiding students  to comprehend the various points of view about the lessons the past has taught us, so that they can decide for themselves what they want for the future.

CRT, in part, has to do with the implied meanings of words. For years, new teachers have been indoctrinated to race theory by analyzing their own backgrounds and those of their students, including race/culture and all language associated with it. All teachers are required to examine how race/culture has affected them and their belief system, along with undergoing a rigorous study of sociolinguistics, which teaches how humans have used language, verbal and nonverbal, to communicate and influence each other throughout time. Using language effectively is required in teaching, both to get students’ attention and to think critically about the world.

 

The media has hammered the term "critical race theory" into the public psyche relentlessly without defining it clearly, so that they can manipulate the public. Teachers do not operate in the same way as several media outlets depict them. Unlike many broadcasters, teachers are cognizant that terms and concepts need to be clearly defined using a variety of methods for students to understand their meaning. Politicians know how to manipulate some media outlets by using loaded terms that antagonize public perceptions of race and culture. They use phrases and slogans filled with implicit racism without defining them, so that the terms can be molded into any shape and form that churns the public into a frenzy by advocating for laws that put restraints on teachers, never regarding their professional training.

 

The validity of CRT is being argued by broadcasters on right-leaning cable networks without proper scaffolding for their viewers to understand the issue. These arguments have failed to explain just what CRT is. Critical Race Theory has been taught for decades since the 1960s, the time Paulo Freire wrote the book "Pedagogy of the Oppressed," which describes how the oppressors in society needed to recognize what they have done in the past and that those oppressed understood what has happened to their ancestors. Parts of the book would be considered a radical treatise about education. However, in the classroom when race issues come up, they often are associated with topics in the history curriculum that cover events such as the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. Teachers work together to carefully plan lessons and units that span across many subjects across the curriculum to provide an equitable education to all students by including multicultural integration, so that they can be taught to make the world a better place through research of historical and contemporary issues from a wide range of publications with varying views about past oppression.

 

The teachings of CRT include problem solving and critical thinking skills so that students can compare, contrast and seek solutions to social problems by reading reputable sources about local, state and national issues.  Common Core standards for speaking and writing can be met by having students discuss and write about them.

 

By studying current events and the history behind them, students can develop solutions to contemporary issues by evaluating their thoughts about how humanity has engaged in irrational thought and acts during different periods of history, along with how they solved the problems that confronted them.  Students can also determine actions of the dominant culture, along with discovering oppression and how people have organized to fight it. CRT topics include studies of race, power and privilege that have existed in both Eastern and Western civilizations throughout history. Make no mistake about it, open discussions of these issues are a vital part of all levels of education because no academic program can function honestly without them.

 

Matthew Bamberg is an adjunct professor of education at National University in San Diego.