Perspectives In The Classroom

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Another thing that is an important lesson in Service Learning (especially with teaching), is your ability to see how multiple perspectives and diversity can come together in unique ways. While learning about race theory on my own at MSU, these are some connections I made between it and my Service Learning.

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1. What is Critical Race Theory? (in a sentence)

A social sciences study that focuses looking at how race plays a role in society – looking at how it impacts themes of power, law, government, and systemic discrimination.

2. How does formal curriculum typically portray African & Native Americans?

Typically, as outliers in history who had their lives shaped by Europeans and white Americans. The text mentions how these minorities are rarely given agency over their lives, and that they are typically portrayed as not as powerful, intelligent, or “civilized”, as the whites who shaped their lives.

3. What is the dominant means by which society receives its racial messages?

Textbooks are the primary way in which we receive our knowledge about racial histories – something which then goes on to shape the way we view race in the present. If we grow up learning about different races as submissive races, or races who do not have the agency and power as whites, then that thinking stays with us and impacts the way we think about different races as adults.

4. How can education promote personal awareness of biases?

Education can promote personal awareness of our biases, not only by placing students in an environment where they are forced to interact with a diversity of people, but also by how it objectively teaches different viewpoints of history. If children grow up being taught that the way we learn about minority races is an incomplete and skewed method, then that will help them realize that their own biases are centered around incomplete and skewed thinking. History classes should not only strive to teach an accurate representation of history, but also to teach a self-awareness about itself that the history we have is not completely representation about the entire spectrum of experiences that exist out there.

Also, education can give kids an attitude that includes critical thinking, which allows them to then question everything. I think one of the most important things that school does, even more so than just giving kids a lot of information about different things, is to give them critical thinking skills, as those are the skills that can then be applied to many different things in life and allows kids to begin to question and analyze everything that they encounter. Just being able to think critically and to go beyond what they are told will allow them to make up their own minds about minorities based on the positive experiences that they have had with them. The best way to get around a personal bias is to think about whether or not those biases play out in your own experiences with different types of people, as it will soon become apparent that it does not in every case.

 

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