A History Lesson Gone Terribly Wrong

8 12 2008

From the Associated Press:

A white social studies teacher attempted to enliven a seventh-grade discussion of slavery by binding the hands and feet of two black girls, prompting outrage from one girl’s mother and the local chapter of the NAACP.

After the mother complained to Haverstraw Middle School, the superintendent said he was having “conversations with our staff on how to deliver effective lessons.”

If a student was upset, then it was a bad idea,” said Superintendent Brian Monahan of the North Rockland School District in New York City’s northern suburbs.

The teacher apologized to the mother who complained and her 13-year-old daughter during a meeting Thursday that also included a representative of the local NAACP. But the mother, Christine Shand of Haverstraw, said yesterday that she thinks the teacher should be removed from the class.

Perhaps, I am missing something here, but I tend to think that this would be a bad idea even if the student simply played along. Its not as if there aren’t any pictures or other documents of enslaved people  out there for teachers to use.

Could you imagine someone saying, “To liven our discussion of the Holocaust we are going to push some of your fellow students into some of these fictional ovens to simulate the experience for you.”  For some reason, I could not see this particular teacher, Eileen Bernstein, agreeing to go ahead it. Such a suggestion would be rejected on its face as a bad idea, and rightfully so.

But somehow she thought this was a good idea for her class.

On another note, this whole affair does make me wonder what this social studies teacher does in her spare time for fun.




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