Ferguson: Resources and Reflections for Educators
Teachers across the country awoke today to the enormous challenge of helping students make sense of the events in Ferguson, MO.
Below is a short list of resources that I've found compelling.
The first comes from Facing History and Ourselves, who for forty years have helped educators have deep, civil conversations about racism and anti-semitism. Steve Becton from Facing History's Memphis office offers his advice for educators at the Facing Today blog:
My first concern would be the emotional well-being of all my students and the fragility of civility right now.
If I were in a classroom teaching right now, my goals would be the following:
- Give students a safe outlet for expressing their thoughts without arguing about the incident.
- Have students imagine the best possible outcome.
- Avoid further perpetuation of the fear and hatred of law enforcement that these incidents encourage.
- Help students to consider the tools for civil protest that are in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and in the spirit of brotherhood.
- Help students to examine the role that race, class, privilege, and stereotyping plays not just in this incident, but in our society.
- Bring historical context to the conversation.
A second set of resources comes from the Boston Teachers Union, with help from my thoughtful T509 co-instructor Chris Buttimer. It is one the most comprehensive list of links and teaching resources that I've found. Another list, compiled this summer by #sschat teachers, can be found here. NPR has posted the full set of grand jury documents here.
Finally, the director of technology and innovation, Bob Dillon, from a school system inside St. Louis County asks his colleagues for their support (h/t @chrislehman):
This is a week, more than any other week since I've ever been connected across the country with so educators and friends, that I need your help. I need this week to be one where the people in my network of support are able to remind folks that St Louis is a good place. It has good people. Please remind them that good, healthy, healing work is happening here. Help me paint a counternarrative to the one that will fill our screens.
Remind them that this is a complex situation, and that there are no simple answers. Remind them that the layers of the mess are dense, thick, and many. Remind them that there are no good jokes or light moments to be made about Michael Brown's death or the struggles in so many urban areas and beyond on the issues of race and poverty.
There are so many good things that are beginning to sprout that can allow Saint Louis to heal and provide a way forward for other communities as well. None of these will be highlighted this week, but please remind everyone that they exist and hope with me that they will prevail.
I need all of you to care about kids deeply this week, and know that people just like you are caring for kids back here in St Louis. Your caring for kids this week will help Saint Louis to heal. It is how you can help. There's plenty of blame to go around.
There are plenty of mistakes that have been made, and there will be plenty more this week. Knowing that there will be more mistakes this week is hard to accept, but we are an imperfect people in an imperfect community.
Prayers to the family of Mike Brown and those seeking justice and a better future in Ferguson.