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🦋 How do we create the space to talk about race?

🦋 How do we create the space to talk about race?
Today I share some great educational resources to support your work talking with young people about equity, inclusion and justice.

There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly. -R. Buckminster Fuller
There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly. -R. Buckminster Fuller
The Underrepresentation Curriculum
Learning for Justice provides free resources and curriculum materials to educators, counsellors and youth practitioners “to inform their practices, and to create inclusive school communities where children and youth are respected, valued and welcome participants.”
Their publication The Underrepresentation Curriculum combines techniques to hold discussions about equity, inclusion and justice, with the rigour of the scientific method.
The curriculum resource provides lessons that help students “use the tools of science to look at the field of science.”
Using methods of critical thinking, evidence-based reasoning and data analysis, students are given the opportunity to question why science looks the way it does—why it is so heavily male and so absent of Black, Latinx and Indigenous representation. The curriculum gives us a framework for approaching discussions of equity, and it challenges students to engage these questions in a meaningful and rigorous way.
Use the Tools of Science to Recognize Inequity in Science | LFJ
What To Say To Kids When The News Is Scary
The news has been challenging these last few weeks. This exchange from Rachel Jorgensen and Tom Rademacher resonated with me regarding how we respond as educators.
Tom Rademacher
I did a lesson today on the charges against Chauvin and the arguments made in court. After, a student told me that my lesson didn't make room for students for whom it could all be re-traumatizing or otherwise harmful.

She was totally right.
Rachel Jorgensen
@MrTomRad My 11 year old daughter is black. I'm raising her to love herself and love her black identity. She doesn't know who George Floyd or Derek Chauvin are because SHE IS ELEVEN. She likes to read books, play soccer and look at butterflies. She has all her life to learn about evil.
Take a further moment to reflect on what they are saying. How do you connect with those ideas?
NPR’s Life Kit article on the strategies for supporting youngsters about the current news cycle is a great resource. Here are some of the key ideas the experts share:
  • Limit their exposure to breaking news
  • For big stories, ask: “What have you heard, and how are you feeling?”
  • Give kids facts and context.
  • When they ask why something happened, avoid labels like “bad guys.”
  • Encourage kids to process the story through play and art
  • “Look for the helpers.”
  • Take positive action together.
Please check the full article below for resources, guidelines and further reading.
Creating space to talk about race
“Where do I start?” This question is a typical response when attempting to create safe spaces for dialogue. One element we can focus on is the conditions for discussion and shared understanding.
Fears of opening a can of worms, stirring the pot and making a mistake, can be paralyzing. It often feels easier and safer to avoid the topic altogether.
The National Education Association’s Centre for Social Justice has ten principles for talking about race in school. Part of the resource is a framework of questions you might use to scaffold discussion and dialogue.
To engage in a systems analysis of a racial issue, good discussion questions include:
Problems
  • What racial inequities are you noticing or experiencing? What are the impacts on different racial groups? Who benefits most and who is hurt most?
Causes
  • What institutions, policies or practices are causing or contributing to the inequities? What social norms, popular myths or cultural biases may be contributing?
History
  • How did things get this way, and are things worsening or improving?
Solutions
  • What solutions could address the root causes and eliminate the inequities? How would different racial groups be impacted by the proposed solutions?
Strategies
  • What strategies and actions could be used to advance the solutions?
Leadership
  • Who are the stakeholders most affected by the inequities? What kinds of active leadership could they take to advance the proposed solution?
10 Principles for Talking About Race in School | NEA
The butterfly is a giant swallowtail, the largest butterfly in North America. Aaron Burden took the photograph in For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum, Burton, United States. Explore more of Aaron’s beautiful portfolio.
Thanks for taking the time to join me this week. Enjoy the weekend when it arrives.
Let me know what resonates.
In dialogue, we trust.
~ Tom
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Tom Barrett from Dialogic Learning

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