An Air Force Colonel reads “The Cat in the Hat” to a group of elementary school students for Read Across America Day.

Read Across America Day, an initiative aimed at helping motivate children to read, is held on Dr. Seuss’ birthday (today, in 1904). Many of Seuss’ children’s books are read in classrooms as part of the celebration.

Source image from The U.S. National Archives. 

U.S. schools teach children that Native Americans are history.

By Lisa Wade, PhD

“They were coming to college believing that all Indians are dead,” said education professor Sarah Shear of her experience in the classroom.

Her students’ seeming ignorance to the fact that American Indians are a part of the contemporary U.S., not just the historical one, led her to take a closer look at what they were learning. She examined the academic standards for elementary and secondary school education in all 50 states, these are the guidelines that educators use to plan curricula and write textbooks. The results are summarized at Indian Country.

Shear found that the vast majority of references to American Indians — 87 percent — portrayed them as a population that existed only prior to 1900.  There was “nothing,” she said, about contemporary issues for American Indian populations or the ongoing conflicts over land and water rights or sovereignty. Only one state, New Mexico, even mentions the name of a single member of the American Indian Movement.

Meanwhile, the genocidal war against American Indians is portrayed as an inevitable conflict that colonizers handled reasonably.  “All of the states are teaching that there were civil ways to end problems,” she said, “and that the Indian problem was dealt with nicely.”  Only one state, Washington, uses the word genocide. Only four states mention Indian boarding schools, institutions that represent the removal of children from their families and forced re-socialization into a Euro-American way of life.

The fact that so many schpeople absorb the idea that Native Americans are a thing of the past — and a thing that we don’t have to feel too badly about — may help explain why they feel so comfortable dressing up like them on Halloween, throwing “Conquistabros and Navahos” parties, persisting in using Indian mascots, leaving their reservations off of Google maps, and failing to include them in our media. It might also explain why we expect Indian-themed art to always feature a pre-modern world.

Curricular choices matter. So long as young people learn to think of Indians no differently than they do Vikings and Ancient Romans, they will overwhelmingly fail to notice or care about ongoing interpersonal and institutional discrimination against American Indians who are here now.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Embrace your inner Godzilla

For my new followers, have the line-work of a comic I worked on(and then temporarily dropped) ! You guys rock ;) I’ll have to add color later, it feels strange just to leave it black and white

And yes…I did this in elementary school more than I’d like to admit…

Elementary School Bus Driver: *Drops you off right in front of your door and waits to make sure you get inside safely*

Middle School Bus Driver: *Drops you off at the end of your street and sometimes takes you closer if its raining*

High School Bus Driver: *Opens bus door while speeding down the highway about a mile from your neighborhood*  tuck and roll bitch

It’s Read Across America Day!

Talk about a good day to read.

Today is the birthday of Dr. Seuss and what a better way to celebrate his enduring genius than by having a nationwide reading celebration.

Read Across America is a partnership between The National Education Association (NEA) and Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

more here including President Obama’s Proclamation for Read Across America Day, 2015

image and text above: Harvey Lieberman, 1st grader at Fairmount Park Elementary School in Seattle. 

Dealing With Defiance: Alternatives To Yelling And Threats

I just got back from coffee with a friend-of-a-friend who is going into elementary teaching.  She asked me how I deal with run-of-the-mill defiance: most kids aren’t completely out of control, but many students do talk back from time to time or respond with stubbornness.  She told me that most teachers she has observed either yell or threaten the student into compliance, but that she didn’t want to be “that” teacher.  I pride myself in never yelling at children and generally having strong classroom management, so I was happy to give her advice.

Obviously situations really vary, but here are my go-to strategies:

1) "Narrate" Behavior: Rather than becoming upset, I try to remain calm and not get pulled into an argument with a child.  I really like using the sentence frame “I notice that you _________.” For example, I might tell a student, “I notice that you are frustrated with your writing.”  I’ll follow that with a question or instruction, ie “Can you tell me why you are feeling upset?” or “I want you to take a deep breath and write two sentences.”  Often by remaining calm, I’m able to deflate the situation.

2) Give Students Choices: Defiant students normally don’t want to feel like they’re being told what to do.  To “preserve” their sense of control, I’ll often give them two options, ie “I notice you are feeling upset.  You can walk to the fountain and get a drink of water or put your head down and count to ten.  Which choice will you make?”  I’ll get down to their level and hold up two fingers.  When the student makes a choice (normally exactly what I would have insisted that they do), I make sure to compliment them on making good choices.

3) Counting Down: For some reason, I’ve found that children are much more likely to follow instructions if you give them a little time to do it.  For example, if a student doesn’t want to write, I’ll tell them “You have 20 seconds to start your writing.  By the time I get to 1, I expect to see your pencil moving.  20, 19…”  This seems to give them time to collect their thoughts.

4) Repetition: If I give a student an instruction (ie “You will go take a break at your desk”) and they talk back (“But Juan did it!”) I’ll just repeat my instruction in a calm, even voice.  

5) Step Away: Sometimes, more “reasonable” techniques don’t work.  However, I NEVER, EVER get into a verbal argument with a student.  If I feel like I cannot reasonably solve the disagreement, I need to be the “adult” in the situation.  I tell the student, “I am feeling (frustrated).  We will discuss this in five minutes” and walk away and collect my thoughts.  Just like in disagreements between adults, sometimes both the teacher and the student need time to collect their thoughts.  Some teachers feel that stepping away lets the student “win.”  Rather, I think it helps the teacher preserve their dignity and respect.

I hope other teachers or teachers-in-training find this helpful!  I love to hear about how other teachers manage their classrooms.

Converstions my Mom's Second Grade Students Have
  • Student 1:It is very sad when you lose a father.
  • Student 2:Yeh. It is or a grandpa.
  • Student 3:Or 7 cats and a dog.
  • Student 1:Yeh, mine was 83.
  • Student 2:Wow. What happened? A heart attack or something?
  • Student 1:No. He was just old and we had to put him down.
  • Student 2:You put your grandpa down?
  • Student 1 says:No, my cat silly.