(This entry is going to get me into trouble, I just know it.)
I am against the teaching of “x History Month” in schools where x is any
one of several possible values. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for celebrating the
accomplishments of these various groups. Here at Sun for instance, each of these
months gets special attention with posters displayed and lots of events. Hurray!
My objection to these celebratory months is when they displace the ordinary
curriculum in the schools. Each of my three kids has had at one time or other, long
elaborate projects assigned that dealt with a member of one of these groups during
its designated month. In addition, the teacher usually spent most of that month teaching the
accomplishments of noted individuals in that group during that month.
The problem is that the school curriculum is a zero-sum game. If something is added, something
else must be removed. Some of the people and events now left out are significant, while some of the people and events added are rather insignificant. Sometimes being the first x in a particular job is a major achievement and should be taught in schools. Sometimes it is just being the first and has no significance in the grand scheme of things.
It is an unfortunate fact of life that during periods of oppression, the oppressed rarely are involved in monumental history making events. This is not to say that there are no exceptions, nor to indicate that the oppressed group wouldn’t have had greater accomplishments had they not been oppressed. But pretending otherwise is just doing a disservice to our children.
Take solace in the fact that once the oppression ends, those groups have every opportunity to become great movers and shakers as anyone else and will. Thus the history taught in the schools of the future will include a large proportion of people from these groups. Indeed, I suspect that the
term “Dead White Male” will no longer have meaning because it will no longer designate an historical group that seems at all out of proportion.