“Teaching About Race in History: New Perspectives and Pedagogies,” workshop notes

“Teaching About Race in History: New Perspectives and Pedagogies”, 4.5.2014

Dr. Jeannette Jones:

  • early modern period = critical to understanding ideas about race
    • as developed in the 18th & 19th century, Enlightenment & European thinkers
      • + colonial America
    • race as a social construct, with a history of its own → necessary for students to understand this
    • must understand role of gender in perpetuating ideas about race (e.g. slavery perpetuated through the race & status of the mother)
  • searches for primary sources to introduce students to these ideas^
    • pay attention to accessibility of the sources here
    • when get to the 19th century, pay attention to legislation (citizenship, property rights, expansion, movements attempting to challenging ideas about race + some peoples using ideas about race to forge identity and organize resistance against repression and slavery)
      • must consider the Dred Scott decision
  • finds that most students respond well to the above^ BUT are often surprised that people haven’t always thought about race as do now
  • when arrive at post-bellum period & the early 20th century, census records = very useful sources to use in conjunction with anti-miscegenation laws
  • 20th century includes a discussion of the Civil Rights movement, LGBTQ, Black Power movement
    • e.g. [MISSING word] River Collective Statement, National Black Feminist Association + some personal narratives & excerpts about people contemplating their racial identities
    • Vine Deloria, Desert Exile
    • uses some newspaper articles too

Dr. Kenneth Winkle:

  • emphasizing U.S. History, his area of specialization
  • 3 responsibilities to our students:
    • (1) teaching diversity through course content → non-European perspectives must be incorporated as part of the foundation & structure of our classes (NOT just sporadically interjected as an “add-on”)
      • lectures, readings, discussions
      • e.g. requires three readings: 1 on African Americans, 1 on Native Americans, 1 on women (& hopefully some documents written by diverse groups of peoples)
      • choice of textbook = critical → looks for a textbook with a broad focus
        • e.g. Mary Beth Norton’s A People & A Nation
    • (2) creating & maintaining a classroom environment in which everyone feels welcome and valued
      • faculty respecting students, students respecting faculty, students respecting each other
      • must make time to listen, not just talk (lecture)
      • respond thoroughly & thoughtfully to students’ questions and comments & incorporate thoughtfully into the lecture & classroom discussion
      • insist that students do the same with one another^
      • two questions on teaching evaluation mandated by the Board of Regents: Did the instructor treat the students with fairness & respect? Did the students treat the instructor fairly and respectfully?
        • Only two questions mandated → critical to the classroom environment
        • student writing = another crucial indicator of what’s going on in the classroom, what the instructor is bringing & how the students are responding
    • (3) representing a role model for our students → be a model of fairness & respect for our students
      • one thing to say it, another to live it
      • not just about teaching diversity – being diversity
      • also need to be aware of “red-flagging” diversity → diversity of perspectives should be a seamless component of our teaching & course content
      • diversity = not something we “hired someone else to do”; something that we all address in our work
        • not A.C.E. 9 requirement – it’s a part of history & part of the professional practice of history

Dr. Gerald Steinacher:

  • agrees with previous comments, particularly regarding listening to the students
  • teaching modern Jewish History, History of the Holocaust, History of Germany to a U.S. audience in Lincoln, Nebraska
    • first time he heard of Lincoln = within the context of Nazi propaganda in the 1970s and 80’s, being printed in Lincoln and smuggled into Austria to be used to support neo-Nazi groups
  • first, must learn where the students are coming from → cannot begin teaching wherever you like, need to know where the students are beginning
    • changes what he teaches based upon what he observes, learns about his student audience
    • pay particular attention to the first year’s teaching evaluations
  • uses primary sources, but ALSO people: survivors of the Holocaust to come speak to the class → “this really makes a difference”
    • much more impact than just reading a chapter in a textbook → dispels notions of the Holocaust as “long ago and far away”
  • also puts a great deal of effort into emphasizing the connections between nationalism and racism
    • 19th century European ideas about race based on language (rather than physical markers)
      • scientific racism
      • U.S. history connected to European history (e.g. clarified via eugenics, Charles Davenport in New York → Germany, West Africa) (forced sterilization)
      • for most students, this^ is very enlightening, something they are very surprised to learn
        • after the first year of teaching, learned needed to spend a good deal of time dispelling myths about the “Elders of Zion” → examine the history of this propaganda

Break-out sessions followed:

  • “Teaching About Racism in History,” with Jared Leighton and Dawne Curry
  • “Teaching About Whiteness in History,” with Jake Friefeld and Waskar Ari
  • “Teaching About the Origins of Race,” with Paul Strauss and James Coltrain

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