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Family and Community Engagement in Preparing Students to Read about Historical Atrocities or Events:

By actively involving families and community members in the preparation for reading about historical atrocities or events, educators can create a supportive and inclusive learning environment that promotes sensitivity, empathy, and critical thinking. Here are some tips for best practice, but first a story based on real events.

Equitable By Design: A Guide by Yvette C. Latunde, EdD

Story Time

In a top 2% school in California, Mia's son, Jamal, came home with a disturbing social studies book. It claimed that "slaves were treated well by owners." Worse, a homework assignment asked students to describe how slavery benefited the enslaved. Despite Mia's prior discussions with the teacher about accurate historical narratives, the school's population was only 3% Black.

Mia, alarmed, met with the school administration, advocating for inclusive education. Collaborating with educators, they revised the curriculum to include diverse perspectives. Jamal learned about the injustices of the past and the resilience of marginalized communities. Through Mia's efforts, the school embraced a more accurate and equitable approach to education.

Here is what we can do:

  1. Community Dialogues and Guest Speakers: Organize community dialogues or invite guest speakers, such as survivors, historians, or representatives from relevant organizations, to share their knowledge and experiences with students and families.

  2. Facilitate discussions between students, families, and community members to explore the historical context, personal narratives, and lasting impacts of the events.

  3. Family Workshops and Discussions: Offer family workshops or discussion sessions focused on preparing students to read about sensitive historical events, providing resources, guidance, and strategies for engaging with the material and supporting their children's learning. Encourage families to participate in shared readings of relevant literature and to engage in meaningful conversations about the themes, characters, and historical context of the books.

  4. Interdisciplinary Projects and Community Partnerships: Collaborate across grade levels and disciplines, with community organizations, and cultural institutions to develop interdisciplinary projects and learning experiences related to historical events, incorporating art, music, drama, and other forms of healing-centered practices.

  5. Engage families and community members as partners in these projects, inviting them to contribute personal stories, artifacts, or creative works that connect to the themes and impacts of the events.

  6. Cultural and Personal Perspectives: Acknowledge and respect the diversity of cultural, ethnic, and personal backgrounds within the student body and community, providing opportunities for students and families to explore how different perspectives shape their understanding of historical events. Invite families to share their own cultural or personal connections to the events, fostering mutual understanding and empathy for diverse viewpoints.

  7. Community Service and Social Action: Encourage students, families, and community members to participate in community service projects and social action initiatives aimed at promoting awareness, healing, and reconciliation in response to historical injustices.

  8. Provide resources and support for families and community organizations to organize commemorative events, memorial ceremonies, or educational programs that honor the victims and survivors of the events and advocate for social change. We can do hard things together!



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