¡Mira Look!: Beyond Heroes and Holidays

As you may have already read, the theme for our first month back is multicultural education.  Many of our posts this month may not have that specific focus on Latin America that they typically do, but the topics and ideas that they cover undergird much of our approach to how and why we hope educators incorporate multicultural teaching in the classroom, and the specific Latin American resources we offer here at Vamos a Leer.

Beyond Heroes and HolidaysIn today’s ¡Mira Look! I wanted to share one of my favorite teacher resource books, Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural, Education and Staff Development edited by Enid Lee, Deborah Menkart and Margo Okazawa-Rey. It’s an award winning educator’s guide that provides lessons and readings on topics such as how to analyze the roots of racism, investigate the impact of racism on all our lives, examine the relationship between racism and other forms of oppression such as sexism, classism, and heterosexism, and learn to work to dismantle racism in our schools, communities and the wider society.  Goodreads provides a great description of the book:

An incredible, informative, collection of essays, articles, analysis, interviews, primary documents and interactive & interdisciplinary teaching aids on civil rights, movement building, and what it means for all of the inhabitants of the planet. With sections on Critical Literacy, The Arts, Mathematics, Technology, Science, Geography, Language, School-Wide Activities, Holidays and Heritage, Talking Back, Early Childhood, Readings and Teaching Aids. Packed into nearly 450 oversize pages are photographs, songs, statements, and work form the likes of such great writers, historians, and activists as Bill Bigelow, James Loewen, Peggy Mcintosh, Luis Rodirguez, Kai James, Clem Marshall, Marta Urquilla, Julie Bisson, the editors and dozens more. What a treasure trove. And what a vital (and useful) tool.

One of my favorite articles included in the book is Sonia Nieto’s “Affirmation, Solidarity and Critique: Moving Beyond Tolerance in Education.”  I’ve long thought that our emphasis on teaching tolerance to our students was somewhat misguided (please note, this is not a criticism of the amazing resources from Teaching Tolerance).  If we think about what it means to tolerate something or someone, is this really what we mean we say we want to teach our students tolerance? I hope that our aim is for far more than mere tolerance.  Instead of tolerance I hope that we’re trying to instill acceptance, understanding and compassion–things that move far beyond tolerance.  Nieto’s article not only does a great job of questioning this idea of tolerance, but also provides an interesting discussion of the different models or levels of multicultural education.  She looks at the spectrum of how multicultural education is applied in schools looking at five different models: monocultural; tolerance; acceptance; respect; and affirmation, solidarity and critique.

Along with more theoretical discussions like Nieto’s, the book also has great lesson plans and classroom activities organized by subjects like Early Childhood; Social Studies and Language Arts, Mathematics, The Arts, Science and Geography, and Technology.

If I haven’t convinced you to check out the book yet, hopefully the following comments from Stan Karp, co-editor of Rethinking Schools and High School English/Journalism teacher will:

“Beyond Heroes and Holidays” renewed my hope that schools may yet find ways to address the debilitating legacy of racism. This book is a toolkit for unpacking years of personal, institutional, and historical baggage and raising hard issues in constructive ways. It shows how the trendy but soft and superficial multiculturalism now prevalent in schools might become more robust and powerful. It moves beyond “celebrating diversity” to understanding why some differences translate into access to privilege and power, while others are a source of discrimination and injustice. With its many practical strategies for creating dialogue and real change in school communities, “Beyond Heroes and Holidays” left me hopeful that we might yet move to a higher ground of mutual understanding and join in a common struggle for justice in schools and out. — in Educational Leadership, May 1998

If you’re familiar with the book, I hope you’ll share your own thoughts in the comments below!

–Katrina

2 thoughts on “¡Mira Look!: Beyond Heroes and Holidays

  1. Pingback: Sobre Octubre: Resources on Día de los Muertos, Remembering, and Celebrating | Vamos a Leer

  2. Pingback: En la Clase: The Cognitive Content Dictionary~ Teaching Vocabulary through Día de los Muertos | Vamos a Leer

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