A school district in Maryland has revamped its eighth-grade U.S. history curriculum by reviewing how it approached issues such as slavery. Eighth-grade students at Montgomery County Public Schools, one of the largest districts in the country, now use elementary sources such as letters and speeches to learn about US history, not just rely on textbooks.
“It was really important for us to make sure that we were speaking in an inclusive narrative of American history,” said Tiffert Anne, a social studies curriculum specialist for Montgomery County Public Schools. “And so to move away from the dominant narratives that have focused on presidents, generals, you know, political history.”
HereSo it is often left to individual states and districts to decide how to teach
“I have never seen a textbook that is used in high schools that is anything but important, not just information, excludes themes, and part of our job as a historian and teacher is to try and tell a more complete story,” said Michael Williams, who lives in the district. Teach African-American History in High School.
The district’s new curriculum now includes a unit of “stolen labor.” They also observed how and why the Constitution protected slavery and there were lessons in rewriting part of their textbook. This is Roberto W. Assenza is being used in the eighth grade class at Salvatore Clement Middle School.
“As America, we did it,” said one student in a class discussion about slavery. “We’re guilty of it.”
“Those who watch this part of our history come and go, but you know, and now everyone is the same, do you feel that way?” CBS News correspondent Jerica Duncan asked the students.
“No,” said a student named Sophia. “Because yes, there was racism before, but the bits of it are still yes. Yes it is better than yes, but it is still bad.”
Most parents probably don’t know how history is taught from district to district, said Dr. Abram X Kendi, a CBS News contributor, author of the book “How to be an Antichrist” and an American professor. The university.
“The valuable thing we have in this society is the minds of our kids,” said Kendi. “Parents and non-parents … should make sure that children, their minds, are being formed in the most accurate way”
Assenza eighth graders said the new curriculum taught them how to think more critically.
“I think it has changed how we study history because we see history through a white, especially male, American lens,” said student Ava Millicit. “I feel like learning through this lens basically tells the whole story of America and the history of slavery in America and how it is at its root.”
Another student, Elizabeth Newton, said, “We are learning how to be a true, analytical thinker. … trying to discover the truth as the truth itself.”
But not everyone is on board with the curriculum changes.
“There were teachers that were difficult for them. I think a lot of times, teachers of history – they like national stories, and the story they were told and taught and studied was definitely not part of the curriculum,” Ani said.
Asked why parents and others should care about how children are learning history, Ascenza said, “If we teach everyone their story, they will become adults who believe in everyone’s story, and if we do not teach children properly, then our society.” Is going to be dangerous for. “
Annie is currently working to rebuild the district’s ninth grade curriculum, which includes the civil rights movement. He said that it would outlast well-known personalities like Martin Luther King Jr. and confront ongoing fighting groups in equality.