If you ever needed proof that modern education has gone to the dogs, what recently happened in San Francisco is a perfect example.
Consider this. A teacher is in the midst of planning how to teach her students about slavery in this country and what it did, and meant to, the people who were, in fact, slaves.
As one of her lessons, she brought to school actual cotton plants to show her students that there were sharp edges on the plants and cotton bolls. Her point was to show the students that the sharp edges of the plants could have pierced the hands of the slaves as they picked the cotton. It was to be an example of one of the issues slaves had to deal with and one of the situations that would have changed for the better after Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin.
According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle about the incident, the lesson was aimed at teaching the students “about the cotton gin and the impact it had on slavery and the Industrial Revolution.”
I don’t know about you, but I suspect most people today have no idea how cotton grows and what a cotton boll looks like. I know I didn’t until I saw an actual field of cotton growing in Southern California several years ago. It was an amazing sight.
This lesson, devised by the history teacher in an unnamed Creative Arts Charter School, sounded to me, when I learned of it, as something that was, in fact, “creative”! But NO, this is present-day California and the present-day San Francisco area, and so she not only found herself in the midst of a controversy but in the middle of an uproar that almost claimed her job.
According to the reaction of parents and the school officials, after they learned of the class lesson, the students were ”traumatized” by learning that cotton plants might have pierced the hands of the people picking them.
Not surprisingly, it took barely a day before the incident and the teacher were investigated by school officials, and the outcome was that the teacher was not seen on campus for nearly five weeks! No one knows what threats she faced.
The director of the school, Fernando Aguilar, said the school community “didn’t feel like the lesson fit into our mission and our vision. We don’t take things lightly that affect the well-being of our students.” He issued an apology to families for what he said was the “unacceptable, harmful (and) inappropriate” lesson plan that did not in any way reflect the school’s “anti-racist, progressive-minded curriculum.”
Whatever that means!
According to the newspaper report, there has been no clarification of just what happened to the teacher other than that she was not on campus for so long and that when she did return, she issued a letter of apology to school families.
The apology noted the lesson was “sourced from reliable sources” and was “an effort to get the students to understand the difficulty of manually processing cotton prior to the invention of the cotton gin.”
But then, the teacher added, “I realize that this lesson was not culturally responsive and had the potential to cause harm.”
The feeling among many of the angry parents is that the lesson did not create empathy and understanding for slaves and what they had to endure, but that it was hurtful and offensive.
Parent Rebecca Archer said putting raw cotton in the hands of children, including students of color like her biracial son, recreates conditions that “evoke so many deeply hurtful things about this country.”
While there was fury from the liberal parents, there are others who found the retribution against the teacher reprehensible.
One parent, unnamed, said this teacher is one of his “three favorite people in the world,” and said, it’s “unbearably cruel” what the teacher has endured.
“I think it’s insane they would treat a teacher like this and basically discard a teacher that has been so inspiring and dedicated. It feels like it was a lesson in sensitivity and empathy. That’s why my mind is so blown, and I can’t stop being angry about it.”
That parent might have been angry, but he still protected his family – refusing to give his name to the reporter for fear of retribution. Smart man.
The whole idea of “anti-racist teaching” apparently is quite organized. Professor Hasan Jeffries, of Ohio State University, consults with school districts to develop “anti-racism” programming. According to him, “The two things you don’t want to do are ‘trivialize the subject’ or ‘traumatize the children” when teaching about slavery. You can’t actually recreate what slavery was like – it would just push you into the area of … traumatizing the children.”
I don’t know about you, but hearing about situations like this almost traumatizes me! It makes me fearful for the future of our children and our country if people like these school officials continue to have their way controlling what our children are taught!
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