Race and Culture

Reading List – click on book image

Hear Paul’s story of leading a school that was canvassed by the KKK

TEDx Youth Event – ASD 2018

Race and Culture Blended Course

“If we are to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race.”
(U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Harry Blackman)

The opposite of racist isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘anti-racist.’”
(Dr. Ibram X. Kendi)

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. I continued the course at the American School of Dubai, where I also served as Superintendent. Here are the standards-based curriculum maps in Atlas. See further down the page for the Unit plans. The course, now in its 10th iteration, is open-source, so please take and use the parts you feel are germane to your school and community.

Course Expectations (link)

The Journey We Will Take Together

This course is designed to take students on a “journey of discovery” through the exploration of compelling questions and the discussion of big ideas as it relates to the concept of antiracism. The course takes an inquiry-based approach, exploring social justice topics that are sometimes difficult 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 opinions and perspectives on the differences among us, and in the process, develop empathy for others. The aim of the course is to empower students 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 anti-racist action. 

The Format of This Course

This course for years operated in the blended learning model. It will adjust accordingly and align with the school’s approach to delivering learning during this pandemic. Students will meet in person for most of the class meetings, and we will integrate those at home who are doing distance learning. Asynchronous assignments will allow for self-directed and self-paced learning. Google Classroom will be the learning platform we will use.

What You Should Do to be Successful

It need not be a secret what a student needs to do to be successful in this course. First and foremost, students are asked to be present. This means engaging fully in the asynchronous assignments and in-class discussions. Students are expected to act with integrity, be open-minded in their thinking, and to be respectful to oneself and to others. Students must check Google Classroom and their school email regularly. Finally, students must ask for help when they need it. I am easy to reach via email or in person.

This link provides a pacing guide and syllabus for the course. 

Assessment and Grading Scheme

Students will be assessed according to the four dimensional standards in the C3 Social Studies Framework. Rubrics will be included for all assessments and significant assignments. Unexcused late work may or may not be accepted; it will be at the teacher’s discretion.

Four Guided Inquiry Units

Through distinct units, we will explore four topics germane to the course:

  • Police Brutality (formative assessment)
  • Effects of Institutional Racism (formative assessment)
  • Culture (formative assessment)
  • Antiracist Action (formative assessment)

Each unit will follow the guided inquiry process, where questioning serves as the foundation of our opinions and corresponding actions. I will guide you through this process, and you will be assessed according to the C3 standards.

Distinct Online Learning Unit

Near the midpoint of this course, you will receive a self-directed and self-paced free inquiry assignment. You will work independently, with help from your peers and from the teacher. This gives you an opportunity to explore a topic of your choice, and to practice a type of learning you will likely see at university. It will represent the final summative assessment in the course.

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”:

  1. The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it, and then dismantle it.
  2. Race is a social concept and has virtually no basis in biology.
  3. Prejudice and racism work to dehumanize and oppress.
  4. People with privilege benefit unknowingly from this invisible system of dominance.
  5. Culture is humanity’s greatest legacy.
  6. Human rights provide a framework for challenging injustice.
  7. When injustice occurs people make a choice to resist through anti-racist behavior, or to be complicit.
  8. There are non-violent, effective ways to fight injustice, rooted in human rights. 

Links to Inquiry Units (with embedded links to resources)

Unit 1: Police Brutality

Unit 2: Mass Incarceration

Unit 3: Culture

Unit 4: Anti-racism

Free-Inquiry Learning Unit

A sampling of articles and speeches to get you started in this course

Anything written by Ta-nehisi Coates

Anything written by Ibram X. Kendi

The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro” (Frederick Douglass)

Letter from a Birmingham Jail (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

The Ballot or the Bullet” (Malcolm X)

Who can Say the N-Word (Dr. Randall Kennedy)