The challenge is daunting, but many educators have expressed a commitment to tackling this important issue. Fortunately, they aren’t alone. Colleges, schools, nonprofits, and online communities have all taken up the task of sharing resources and building support.
There are resources for teachers to strengthen their own knowledge of the history of racism in the United States, as well as advice and materials for developing teaching strategies and building safe spaces for discussion.
Many teachers have found that, in addition to addressing the topic of racism with students, they have to think hard about the racial dynamics at work in their learning communities. As NPR reports, “More than 80 percent of public school teachers are white, while half of all students are people of color. Some teachers may never have directly talked about race or racism, particularly with younger children.”
Now is a crucial time to begin this work. Below are some of the many resources available to teachers:
- Journalist Melinda Anderson created the #CharlottesvilleCurriculum hashtag, which teachers at all levels are using to find and share resources and to build a community.
- Sociology professor Katie L. Acosta has written on the value of bringing politics into the classroom and the myth of maintaining “neutrality” on issues around race and identity.
- Facing History and Ourselves is devoted to engaging students in conversations about race and prejudice. Teaching strategies and sample lessons are available on the Resources page, along with materials focusing on teaching after Charlottesville.
- Teaching Tolerance seeks to improve school communities by fostering conversations about race and difference. Resources are available, along with grant applications for teachers interested in developing programs in their schools.
- Graduate students at the University of Virginia assembled a syllabus about the history of racism in their local community and in the United States more generally.
- Georgetown University’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship and Brown University’s Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning have abundant resources teachers can use to learn how to facilitate difficult conversations, create safe spaces for discussion, and care for students and themselves in difficult times.