Race and Culture Hybrid Course
“If we are to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race.”
(U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Harry Blackman)
This course is unique, but hardly original, being built on the works and geniuses of those before me who have committed to teaching the oft-taboo subjects of race, culture, and human rights. The list is long.
The course was developed while I was HS Principal at The American School in London, and taught as a social studies elective during the fall semesters of 2010, 2011, and 2012. I revised and truncated the curriculum when I moved to the International Schools Group in Saudi Arabia, where I served as Superintendent. Today, I have continued the course at the American School of Dubai, where I serve as Superintendent.
The Journey We Will Take Together
This course is designed to take students on a “journey of discovery” through the generation of compelling questions and the exploration of big ideas. It will explore social topics that are challenging to talk about, such as privilege, prejudice, racism, and the biology of our differences. Students will come to appreciate how culture is humanity’s greatest legacy. Students will curate their own assumptions and changing perspectives, and also develop empathy for the perspectives of others. In doing so, they will become empowered to contribute to a more just world. The development of compassion, communication and collaboration skills, and cultural competence will help participants become global citizens, ready to take informed action. Knowledge and skills will be applied to real-life dilemmas and issues (e.g. racial tension in the U.S. over discriminatory police tactics).
The Unique Format of This Course
This course is different in that it is an example of blended learning, a trend in education in which students do significant exploration and learning outside of the traditional classroom—e.g. using online resources. Students will have the opportunity for in-person class discussions roughly three-quarters of the possible meeting times. Students will do online learning through Google Classroom, with PowerSchool Learning acting as a repository for course information and resources. This course requires a high degree of self-motivation and maturity.
The Big Ideas for the Course
This course is centered on nine enduring understandings. Learning objectives and activities will be tailored to these “Big Ideas”:
- Race is a social concept and has no virtually no basis in biology.
- Prejudice and racism work to dehumanize and oppress.
- People with privilege benefit unknowingly from this invisible system of dominance.
- Culture is humanity’s greatest legacy.
- Our identity is interdependent with others.
- Cultural awareness and respect offer the greatest hope for peace and prosperity.
- Human rights provide a framework for challenging injustice.
- When injustice occurs people make a choice to resist or be complicit.
- There are non-violent, effective ways to fight injustice.
Links to “Classes” (mini-units)