August 19, 2007 by multiracialsky
We finally made the commitment last week to homeschool Jaja and Rico for kindergarten next year. We have two primary reasons:
Our district is focused on academic performance and test scores (as are most public schools nowadays). This translates into full-day kindergarten (6+ hours a day, 5 days a week) with a significant amount of ‘seat work’. They have art 1 day a week, music 1 day a week, P.E. 3 days a week, and brief recess 1-2 times each day. In the name of traditional academic proficiency, these five-year-olds sit quietly at tables for hours each school day. (As my husband says, “Kindergarten should be half art and half gym.”)
Our district does not believe they have enough ‘minority’ students to warrant cultural competency training for their teachers and staff. (I previously wrote about my conversations with district administrators and my problems with the kindergarten’s Africa unit.)
I received the paperwork we need to fill out from our state education office, and now I am figuring out how to represent our educational values and worldview while fulfilling the state curriculum requirements. For example, American History: Our family gives equal (or greater) weight to the perspectives of Native Americans (the history of this place called the United States did not begin when Columbus landed), African Americans (there is so much more to Black American history than MLK and slavery; don’t get me started), women (we have always been doing more than raising children, cooking meals, and washing clothes–a lot more), and other populations underrepresented in traditional historical narratives and texts. My children are surrounded by the predominant White male perspective and history that tries to pass itself off as “American culture” and “American history”. But that’s not my family’s culture, and it’s not my family’s total history.
EdChange is dedicated to diversity and equity in ourselves, our schools, and our society. We act to shape schools and communities in which all people, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, (dis)ability, language, or religion, have equitable opportunities to achieve to their fullest and to be safe, valued, affirmed, and empowered.
On the EdChange site, I found the document Key Characteristics of a Multicultural Curriculum. I read this awesome list (designed for teachers at all levels) and found myself nodding, yes, yes, yes. (I don’t agree with other people’s philosophies of any kind very often.) This is exactly what I want for my children’s educational philosophy, (and curriculum and teacher-perspective when they attend more traditional school, which I assume they will for many years). The author, Paul Gorski, covers seven main topics, a few of which I have highlighted below:
- From CONTENT: Avoid tokenism. Weave content about under-represented groups (People of Color, Women, Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual People, People with Disabilities, etc.) seamlessly with that about traditionally over-represented groups.
- Do you present under-represented groups as “the other”?
- Do you address these groups only through special units and lesson plans (“African American Scientists”; “Poetry by Women”) or within the context of the larger curriculum?
- From PERSPECTIVE: Content must be presented from a variety of perspectives and angles, not only that of majority groups, in order to be accurate and complete.
- How do we define “classic literature” or “great books” or “the classics” and from whose perspective?
- From whose perspective do we tell history? When is “westward expansion” the same as “genocide”? When are champions of “liberty” the same as slave owners?
- From CRITICAL INCLUSIVITY: Bring the perspectives and experiences of the students themselves to the fore in the learning experience. Encourage students to ask critical questions about all information they receive from you and curricular materials, and model this type of critical thinking for them.
- Who wrote or edited that textbook?
- Who created that Web site?
- Whose voice am I hearing and whose voice am I not hearing?
Show me the school that embraces this multicultural educational philosophy–and my kids will be there. For now, this list gives us a strong framework to continue our children’s life and academic education, starting with that homeschool curriculum I need to submit next week.
I’ve been searching for a homeschooling or unschooling online group or a homeschooling website that is philosophically non-Eurocentric and that ‘accepts’ multiracial families. There are several African American homeschooling groups, but they are not welcoming of our kind of multiracial family (a couple of the groups seem open to families where only one of the homeschooler’s parents is Black). Moreover, our family’s educational/homeschooling style is not Afrocentric. Our educational perspective is consciously multiracial and multicultural, with a current focus on African American and Native American cultures (present-day and historical).
I’m thinking about starting a new Yahoo group for families who have a multiracial and/or multicultural approach to their homeschooling (in all my spare time . . . ) Anybody interested in joining?