Fri Feb 22, 2013, 10:59 PM
Starry Messenger (30,338 posts)
Hero Student Teacher Stops Racist Math Problems Dead
Oh, sure, we could be outraged and annoyed that any teacher of fourth-graders could be so clueless as to think it would be appropriate to distribute a “Slavery Word Problems Homework” worksheet to their students, because we would like to think that nobody would give nine-year-olds questions like “In a slave ship, there can be 3,799 slaves. One day, the slaves took over the ship. 1,897 are dead. How many slaves are alive?” Nine year olds, dude.
But we are feeling positive and hopeful today, and so we will instead heap praise on Aziza Harding, the New York student teacher at P.S. 59 who, instead of copying and distributing the worksheet, “took it upon herself to copy a different assignment instead, writing the assigning teacher a note saying she wasn’t comfortable with the questions” and then spoke to her NYU professor, who broke the story to NY1. Because really, it’s the weekend, and isn’t it something of a relief that this story broke because Aziza Harding said something, and not because that worksheet actually went home with a bunch of kids?
As Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams notes, the problem isn’t the attempt to connect multiple subjects, it’s the reduction of that approach to mere busywork, and of course the utter failure to think about slavery — about history — as something that affected actual human beings:
Which, again, brings us back to Aziza Harding, who, thank the seven mad gods who rule the sea, saw the problem with that slave ship math problem. She
understood it and questioned it – concepts that unfortunately, it seems, eluded both the previous class that had already done the assignment and the teachers who shuffled it off to them. An education that doesn’t incorporate nuanced, critical thinking is useless. And that’s the deeper shame of the whole debacle: that a group of teachers and students could come up with a list of numbers, but couldn’t see something so blatantly wrong, right in front of them.
I thought we could use an uplifting teacher story today.
8 replies, 2330 views
Hero Student Teacher Stops Racist Math Problems Dead (Original post)
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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)
Fri Feb 22, 2013, 11:17 PM
DevonRex (22,541 posts)
1. Wonderful story of a very promising young student teacher.
We need more just like her. Young people entering the profession who see the whole, who see how everything they do affects those young minds. The beautiful thing is that she is just the sort of person who should be in the news and she IS!!! Thank you for bringing the story here. Thank goodness she wants to teach. She's a natural!
I hope her story is told far and wide and that other student teachers learn from it. I wish my county would learn from it. They've done away with the teachers' union and I'm afraid that any deviation from their very conservative lesson plans would mean firing. And they're arming the security guards. We'll be moving in a few years rather than pay taxes to this district any longer than we have to. The school issue was our last straw. If we could sell our home now we would.
Response to DevonRex (Reply #1)
Fri Feb 22, 2013, 11:24 PM
Starry Messenger (30,338 posts)
3. I know, I'm so happy to see this!
It's scary to have no teachers' unions, then you really are at the mercy of conservative curriculum, which is probably one of the real points of busting teaching unions. It's harder to counteract early right-wing ideology.
I'm sorry you have to move, it's insane what is going on.