We see it happen every year, but it doesn’t have to! We do not have to be culturally insensitive for the sake of having fun or giving our students something “cute” to do. History is rarely ever a fun or cute story.
Why Does This Matter?
Do you ever see one group of people trying to tell another group of people how they disrespected their culture? Instead of just apologizing and committing to doing better, Group B doubles down and tries to tell Group A that it’s not even a big deal. Because of culturally insensitive experiences they’ve had their entire lives, Group B truly doesn’t think it’s a big deal, even though it is! We can’t control what goes on at home, but we can make a difference at school!
Honest History is Engaging! Give it a Try!
We want to give you this script for your kids before an honest history lesson:
“Friends, I’m going to tell you a story that a lot of people don’t know. When I was little, my teacher taught me the wrong thing, so I want to make sure you know the truth. Are you ready?”
Freebie for You!
Check out this freebie below if you need to prepare your students for a hard history lesson.
Play It Safe
If it isn’t a part of your or your students’ culture, dressing up shouldn’t be involved. Inviting kids to “dress up” can minimize the issues a community faces. It also leaves the door open for racist or harmful elements to come into play.
Getting to Work
eBook + Printables: LaNesha and I love to take hard history lessons and create honest lessons that are kid-friendly and ready for any educator to pick up and teach. All of our lessons come with a projectable eBook and printables for students to draw and respond on.
Teaching about Squanto the “friendly” Indigenous Person
“The American Thanksgiving story many may be familiar with goes something like this:
The English Pilgrims settle in the New World, meet a “friendly” Indigenous (although the word “Indigeonous” was rarely used) guide named Squanto who teaches them to plant corn, and together, they celebrate their first harvest.
But that’s the “mythologized version” of Squanto, according to Linda Jeffers Coombs, author, and historian from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head in Massachusetts. “Too many Wampanoag or Native people generally, he’s seen as a traitor. But even that doesn’t get at his entire story,” Coombs told Unreserved host Falen Johnson.
The real story behind Squanto, also known as Tisquantum, is complicated. Very little is known about Squanto’s early years, but historians generally agree he was a member of the Patuxet, a band of the Wampanoag Tribe that lived in what would become Plymouth, Mass. He acted as an interpreter and guide to the pilgrim settlers at Plymouth during their first winter and “he was, to the English, a good guy,” said Coombs, who is also on the board of directors for Plymouth 400, which is organizing events in the U.S. to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth colony.” ‘Widespread’ Enslavement Though there are varying versions of Squanto’s story, historians seem to agree that prior to the pilgrims’ settling in 1620, Squanto was captured by English explorers in 1614 and sold into slavery in Europe. He spent a number of years in England where he learned English.” See? We have LOTS to cover if we want to teach history honestly and inclusively.
My Staff Still Wants to Hold Pilgrim and “Indian” Feasts… what should I do?
Got a whole school of educators that needs some PD around this topic? We’ve got you! STAFF Training for HONEST History Lessons: Thanksgiving
We wanted to provide a springboard for staff-wide conversations around problematic history lessons that we teach our students. When teachers individually decide to teach honest history, they are often afraid because they are usually on their own. How powerful would it be to get your entire school on the same page? If you are a united front, then you will be able to handle misinformed parents that may feel like these lessons are incorrect. Grab your admin and ask for a PLC or staff meeting to dive into this powerful work.
In this resource, you will find a PowerPoint presentation that will walk your staff through activities, turn and talks, and steps to make a plan of action. You will decide how you will roll it out and gather materials…outside of that? It’s all done!
We hope you and your staff feel better equipped to teach REAL history!
Do you usually focus on turkeys this month? Probably…because November means TURKEYS! There are countless activities and units dedicated to turkeys, but this is not your average unit! This unit was designed with global themes in mind! Throughout this resource, you will teach economics, history, science, geography, and sociology! We hope you enjoy this unit as much as we do!
The topics that we cover include:
Economics: How much do turkeys cost? Do supply and demand change the price the in the same way it does for other goods?
History: How did the turkey get its name?
Project-Based Learning: What does it take to run a turkey farm? Can you run your own turkey farm?
Geography: Where do wild and domestic turkeys live? What is a habitat?
Sociology: Why does the President of the United States pardon a turkey every year?
We hope that this will allow you and your students to deepen and enrich your thematic turkey unit of study!
We have created a unit for K-3 that covers the entire month of November.
-Geography on Your Plate
-Culture Matters: Indigenous People’s Heritage Month
-The Mother of Thanksgiving
-Branches of Government