“I am the flesh of your flesh and the bone of your bone; I have been here as long as you have been here — longer — I paid for it as much as you have…My history and culture has got to be taught…It is yours.” - James Baldwin
In elementary school, students are presented with a myriad of information ranging from mathematical equations, writing skills, a unilateral history of the United States, and other multi subject content. Then, year after year, connections from content areas begin to bond together like dot line drawings, enabling students to excel academically and even ace state tests. While schools can measure success by these understandings, they do not prepare students to embrace or even understand racial injustice in society because we rarely allow students to study their communities and themselves. Schools rarely allow students to understand who they are as active members of an unfolding history.
Too often, they are left plagued with incomplete fables and tales about American history through simplistic accounts of life and prosperity. If students want to get an “A” in history class, they are likely to succeed when answering “fill in the blank words” as they relate to concepts like the westward movement and manifest destiny. These terms, like many others, have maintained long-established understandings of this country’s development. As a result, students are more likely to form and maintain a whitewashed history that encourages racial and ethnic inequality and division. I came to realize that my students “often” had more of an understanding about standard learning content than they had about the community from which they were emerging. It is my intent to present a historically and culturally relevant unit that acknowledges both living and “past” history, in an effort to allow students to learn about and reflect on the past while beginning to see themselves and the importance of their own footsteps in society.
My unit consists of eight lessons which will be taught in a second-grade classroom. Throughout the unit of study, I will address the threads of New Haven history that have been woven to form today’s community while blending subjects and academic standards in history, reading and writing. There, students will discover how our collective histories were made with the hands, hearts, and minds of ethnically diverse peoples. Students will be able to explain how culturally, and ethnically diverse peoples played and continue to play important roles in the development of our community and society, by listing examples. Most importantly, students will understand that we are all equal as human beings and believe that accessibility and equality should be realized in all facets of American society.
The following areas will be discussed and developed in tandem with overarching unit objectives:
- Build student awareness for what is a community and how our community developed. (New Haven History)
- Identify how the past has influenced the future by discussing community and societal changes in New Haven- Then and Now (Community Development)
- Discuss how all people share a collective history, and in turn are equal as human beings with converging backgrounds, beliefs, and origins. Focus on student identity and community connectivity. (We Are Together)