Gray Matters (March 2018)
Black History Month: Children As Change Makers
Among the many qualities that I most admire in my colleagues are the self-reflection and intentionality with which Capitol Hill Day School teachers engage in the art of educating children. Over the past few years, these traits have been particularly visible as the faculty and staff have explored the theme of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We looked inward, with our community-wide participation in the Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism survey (May 2017 Gray Matters), and outward, through our examination of expert research on Global Competence learning (February 2018 Gray Matters). We used our own learning to augment and advance our practice.
One example of this work in action is this year’s approach to Black History Month. After careful consideration, a group representing the faculty at-large proposed that we use the month of February to explore the theme “children as changemakers,” with an intentional focus on the ways in which African-American children have made a difference in the struggle for recognition and rights. Here are a few examples of what this learning looked like:
All Early Childhood classes attended the Discovery Theater’s production, How Old is a Hero. Following the production, and in keeping with what is most relevant to the lives of young children, classes are focusing on these core ideas:
- We all have a job of noticing what is not fair and working to change it.
- We must show courage in order to make a change.
- mall movements can start something. Work towards fairness is not finished.
In a cross-grade workshop format, Elementary students studied the lives of the “changemakers” Destiny Watford, Claudette Colvin, and Ruby Bridges. They explored themes of economic protest, social entrepreneurship, and more. Students learned the meaning of the terms community organizing and policy change. Their work led them to discussions of vocabulary such as assumption, bias, and prejudice.
All Upper Grade students watched the documentary film, The Children's March, and used the film to examine the questions:
- Why were children important to making change in Birmingham, Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement? What were the resources (or power/influence) that children utilized in order to advocate for change in their community?
- What made the non-violent approach to change in/effective?
- What were the outcomes of children’s participation in Birmingham protests? How did the efforts of Birmingham youth influence the national Civil Rights movement?
- Who were important allies for the children?
As a way to make our learning visible, work will be showcased in an “all-school museum,” starting March 5. We hope you will make time to visit the first three levels of the Dent building and engage with our work.
Head of School