3 Things Culturally Responsive Educators Teach About Thanksgiving
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the topic of Thanksgiving. While teachers may set out to do justice to the holiday, exploring this topic in an honest and meaningful way is no easy task. Nevertheless, as culturally responsive teachers, it is our responsibility to provide accurate information in an effort to discourage the spreading of harmful cultural stereotypes.
As you navigate through this holiday with your students here are 3 things to keep in mind:
1.) Teach from Multiple Perspectives
Unfortunately, many of the resources surrounding Thanksgiving are from the perspective of the Pilgrims. While this in and of itself is not a bad thing, it is the job of culturally responsive teachers to tell the whole story by including all perspectives.
One way to do this is by presenting students with true cultural facts about the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people and having students compare and contrast how each people group lived. If you need a low prep resource check out Thanksgiving STEM/STEAM Build a Pilgrim House and a Wetu. With this resource students learn about Pilgrim houses as well as Wampanoag houses through readings and by watching YouTube videos. Students also use a graphic organizer to show the similarities and differences between both cultures.
Providing multiple perspectives is how culturally responsive teachers ensure that all cultures are represented and accurately portrayed.
2.) Teach About Culture Throughout the Year
While it makes perfect sense to teach about Native American culture at Thanksgiving it should not be the only time we teach it. Culturally responsive teachers seamlessly integrate culture into every lesson in order to connect with students in meaningful ways and allow students to connect with the world around them. All students in our classrooms should be able see themselves in history!
3.) Teach Students About Gratitude
The central message of Thanksgiving is gratitude. As culturally responsive educators we want students to be grateful for their heritage, for the people in their families, and those who paved the way for the next generation. Spend some time allowing students to talk and write about what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving season.
One way to do this is by having students complete a mindfulness activity in which they build a Gratitude Tower. Give students index cards and have them record what they are thankful for on the cards. Once they have finished writing, have them use the cards to build a tower. The more things they are thankful for, the bigger the tower will be!
As you navigate through this holiday season remember to keep these three ideas in mind: teach from multiple perspectives, teach culture throughout the year, and teach students about gratitude. By teaching around these three ideas you will ensure that you are teaching accurate information and avoiding the spread of inaccurate cultural stereotypes.
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