Diversity of the social studies department nick eddinger and taeyeon kim

The Sagamore spoke with 10 teachers from the social studies department about the role of diversity (among students and staff) in the classroom.

Brian Poon

"I think that having a broad range of folk and staff is sort of critical to broadening the conversation of how we approach different ideas. If you only learned about other people then you don’t get to see yourself. And if you don’t have opportunities to see yourself affirmed in the curriculum than it’s like 'do I exist.'"

Jen Martin

"I think that whether we like it or not (I personally really like it) our curriculum is the curriculum of identity; that’s all it is. We teach the story of humans. I think that’s what history is. It’s the story of humans."

Roger Grande

"We’re telling a lot of stories, and embedded in our curriculum is stories. I mean everything is a choice. We can’t include everything, so everything we teach and include and provide for students comes from a series of choice-making, so we’re responsible for those choices. We can either deny or exclude certain stories, or we can provide certain stories and exclude others. It depends on what your emphasis and focus is."

Noah Gronlund-Jacob

"Being a history teacher is being able to bring in content that is specific to people’s backgrounds and lives. So we get to look at China, Russia, Europe, Africa, South America. Being able to look all over the world at different times, talking about different people, and being able to analyze different components of society, makes it so that history classes becomes that much more rich, because of the diversity."

Marcie Miller

"Diversity is not just letting a student of a diverse background in, but it’s about helping the white majority that is there learn about diversity in their community."

Robert Grant

"I think diversity presents some challenges to a cohesive community. I think if you have a homogenous society it’s easier for everyone to be on the same page culturally and ethnically, linguistically, religiously and things like that. Take a country like Japan. Japan has no trouble with a cohesive community, but you take a diverse place like London, there are more challenges. I just think that diversity is worth the challenge."

Sam Dreyfus

"I’ve been in settings where the way the diversity in the community was handled led to some people feeling marginalized, and some people feeling impatient and everyone feeling a little uncomfortable. I’ve been in settings where it wasn’t really addressed at all, and some people felt marginalized and other people didn’t or weren’t really aware. If we address diversity proactively, we can really enrich everybody’s learning."

Oyeshiku Carr

"Students might have assumptions about an adult who looks a certain way. They think that because they look this way they already know their experience, but once they learn about them they realize that maybe the adult has a ton in common with me. They love music or travels a lot or speak a language that I speak, and it starts to break down a lot of the fixed images that people have of one another."

Malcolm Cawthorne

"It’s important for all kids to see a lot of different people whether it’s race or gender or any of the other many identities, ethnic group. It’s important for all kids to see that type of diversity in front of them. Sometimes we think it’s really important for me to teach other African American kids, and there is truth in that, but it’s also really important for me to be in a room in front of kids who identify differently than me."

Scott Barkett

"It is something that, if as a community we can commit to that work, making people feel welcome, making people feel included, making sure that everyone's getting a fair shake and a fair opportunity, making sure that our systems are fair for everybody, if we can do that, then it's awesome. It really works well."

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