Most young parents believe that theirs is the most complicated life. Their obstacles are the hardest faced, their problems are new. Teachers often hear “You just don’t know.” This unit attempts to take them back in history and to stretch their imagination with real life characters in historical situations. The choice here is to gear the unit toward African American students in an urban setting. At this point, parents as seen in “Ruby Bridges,” a very recent (1998) Disney movie made for television, will be the focus. Overall, the intent is to examine parenting in three important periods in American history - slavery through the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Civil Rights era. Movies such as “Roots” and “The Diary of Miss Jane Pittman,” although somewhat fictionalized highlight the years of slavery. MGM released a production around the life of Dr. George Washington Carver some fifty years ago. Dr. Carver lived through the turn of the century. There are numerous renditions of parenting in the Civil Rights era of United States history. There may be appropriate material in Spike Lee’s “Four Little Girls” or “Malcolm X”, in addition to “Ruby Bridges.”
In addition, it is pertinent to include reels about parents of other ethnic backgrounds. Good parenting is neither black, white, yellow or red. Good parents provide for the children’s physical and emotional needs. They provide guidance and organization for work and recreation. Along the way, parents provide opportunities for their children to develop problem solving process. While there are some differences related to religion or geographic location, they are relatively minor. The main goal here is to help students recognize parenting responsibilities properly exercised.
While the main objective is to assist student to identify the responsibilities of parenting and the appropriate applications of skills to exercise the responsibilities, the unit will also teach critical thinking skills, as students separate fact from fiction, cull information on families and parenting, and make decisions on whether to adopt attributes seen on the screen. They will be encouraged to base their decisions on the truths which are uncovered. They will be directed to define the roles of parents and parent figures. They will be guided to view these roles against criteria developed as the unit progresses. They will be introduced to major figures in American history in the meantime.