Seeking 'woke' history curriculum
January 3, 2019 6:57 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to work on teaching my kids (oldest almost 8 now) history, so I'm looking for a curriculum, framework, etc, that helps me structure this, but isn't white supremacist bullshit.

I want to teach my kids history that's actually fucking good, that acknowledges and treats white supremacy, colonialism, imperialism, etc., in an actually competent way. I need help finding a structure that helps me teach this. Recommending individual books is totally fine, but also only part of what I'm seeking out: which is a larger structure to proceed through engaging with materials over the course of world history.

Even as a leftist who knows a fair bit more than the average person about history, I have *huge* gaps in my education that I'm still trying to fill. I need some kind of guidebook that's good on the above points.
posted by odinsdream to Education (12 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
There is a lot of good stuff in the Trump Syllabus 2.0

This course, assembled by historians N. D. B. Connolly and Keisha N. Blain, includes suggested readings and other resources from more than one hundred scholars in a variety of disciplines. The course explores Donald Trump’s rise as a product of the American lineage of racism, sexism, nativism, and imperialism. It offers an introduction to the deep currents of American political culture that produced what many simply call “Trumpism”: personal and political gain marred by intolerance, derived from wealth, and rooted in the history of segregation, sexism, and exploitation.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:28 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]

If you like Howard Zinn’s approach, please check out the Zinn Education Project. Lots of materials there.
posted by The Toad at 7:33 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]

Keep your eyes open for workshops at places like universities and libraries. Recently there was one advertised at my son's daycare (a flyer, not a thing by the actual daycare) on talking to your kids about decolinization, for example.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:21 PM on January 3

I follow Rachel Cargle on Instagram and in her profile she features a link tree with lots of content that might apply, especially the Do The Work 30 Day Course and some of her social syllabi.
posted by stellaluna at 10:52 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]

Teaching Tolerance via has a lot of elementary age content, including a “what we’re reading” section that highlights picture books.

Joy Hakim had a great history series The Story of US that was more balanced and engaging than my elementary history books.

I also listen to the podcast Stuff You Missed in History Class while getting things done around the house, which is G-PG. unless they say otherwise.
posted by childofTethys at 4:09 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]

Seconding Teaching Tolerance. It’s from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:25 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]

Follow Ericka Hart on social media for overall mindset learning about intersectionality. She and her partner Ebony do incredible Instagram Stories (videos that you can see archived in little round bubbles at the top of her Instagram page) that I think are some of the best insights about race out there.

Also- appropriating African American Vernacular English like "woke" isn't, well, woke
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:23 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]

Zinn's A Young People's History of the United States seems like it would be good for this.
posted by Betelgeuse at 6:20 AM on January 4

Came to recommend Joy Hakim's History of US, which childofTethys mentioned. It's a 10-volume history of the United States aimed at middle school students, but appropriate for older elementary strong readers and can be read to an 8 year old. It's very mainstream - used in many schools - but I found it balanced. For example, the discussion of treatment of the settlers' treatment of American Indians and the discussion of slavery is central to the narrative, not just acknowledged in passing. (From one online reviewer: "You have to weed through the authors clear biases. Namely feminist, and liberal propaganda. Overall, we really enjoyed the books. My kids’ only complaint was the constant feminist and slavery issues. She just couldn’t seem to let it go.")
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:29 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]

There is a lot of great material on US, world history, and historical thinking in general on the Stanford History Education Group website.
posted by mustard seeds at 8:18 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]

I learned a lot of my history (at least, the stuff that stuck) through novels and stories. At that age, I was obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder, who was, uh, not exactly the woke-est option. I have heard the Betsy-Tacy books are better about diversity (one of them has a storyline about Syrian refugees?) but I haven't read them. There are also lots of kids' books/comics from different cultural backgrounds. I strongly recommend Amar Chitra Katha for Indian mythology, for instance. It's in English, and definitely aimed at an 8-year-old audience.

One of the best non-fiction history books I've read was 1491. It's aimed at an adult audience, but it could be a jumping off point for things like "what was food like in Aztec times?" or "make a Mayan calendar." Hands-on type activities are good.

Also, just teaching them about non-Western/non-US history and culture will do a lot to expanding their world. Teach them about woodblock printing. Teach them about the Wagadou so that when they finally get around to "Africa Week" in high school history class, they'll know something more than Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Heart of Darkness.
posted by basalganglia at 10:13 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]

I don't have a specific recommendation but what I will say is that I recently spent time traveling with a high school teacher who had been homeschooled and his mom/teacher. (I was also homeschooled). We came to the conclusion that one of the most helpful aspects of our education was having parents disagree with curriculum and explain to us their points of disagreement. It's incredibly empowering as a kid to realize that not everything you're exposed to is correct. So if you find a text that has some positives but also some drawbacks, definitely foreground that as part of the lesson and then draw on primary sources as much as possible to demonstrate their errors. That can be a good approach occasionally.
posted by mmmbacon at 9:20 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]

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