“Hard History” is Fueling Racial Divides in Schools

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In today’s episode we’re taking a look at how the “hard history” of slavery is presented to our students and helping to fuel racial divides in schools across the nation.

Below you will find the full show notes and reference list for Episode 19 of The State of Education Podcast, presented by One-Room Education, along with links to the resources mentioned in this episode.

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Question of the Week:

When and how were you first taught about slavery?

If you have any questions or comments about this episode or any of the information presented, please make sure to leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

“Hard History” is Fueling Racial Divides in Schools

Show Notes

Welcome back to The State of Education podcast, presented by One-Room Education.

Today we’re looking at how we present the “hard history” to students in the United States.

  • What is Hard History?
  • How Does One-Room Education address it?
  • What is the opposition and why is there one?
  • Critiquing curriculum suggestions.

I felt it was important to do an episode about how to teach about slavery and how to teach about the history of slavery in a historically accurate and factual way.

“In the ways that we teach and learn about the history of American slavery, write the authors of the new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center SPLC, the nation needs an intervention.” 

“Why Schools Fail to Teach Slavery’s ‘Hard History'”

I think it’s really important not just to understand the educational theories that are being pushed on teachers but also to look at the educational theories and the social constructs that are being taught and imposed upon our students.

Katie J. , The State of Education Podcast, presented by One-Room Education.

This report, titled “Teaching Hard History: American Slavery” is meant to be a resource for teachers who are eager to help their students better understand slavery, not as some “peculiar institution”, but as a blood soaked bedrock on which the United States was built now. 

“Why Schools Fail to Teach Slavery’s ‘Hard History'”

But what I was also taught as a homeschooler and what I found is true through my own research and own education is that it wasn’t an American only problem. 

Katie J. , The State of Education Podcast, presented by One-Room Education.

There are no privileges allotted to people of any race. ethnicity, sexual orientation, or anything else under the law in the United States. There are no institutionally racist systems in place so far as the laws and legal structures of the United States and all of the individual states. 

Katie J. , The State of Education Podcast, presented by One-Room Education.

It is not a systematic problem or systemic problem. And I don’t think that individual people that have issues with different races should be the problem of individual students telling them that if they don’t do anything about racism in the next 20 years, that they are the problem and they are gonna suck as people and at life, I think is really unfair to those students, and it’s putting a lot of pressure on them that isn’t needed. 

Katie J. , The State of Education Podcast, presented by One-Room Education.

In my experience, literally everywhere throughout my entire education. It has been emphasized how bad slavery is. And it has de-emphasized the incentives to keep people enslaved. 

Katie J. , The State of Education Podcast, presented by One-Room Education.

This is why Teaching Tolerance developed Teaching Hard History in the first place—to support middle and high school educators who are committed to teaching this difficult truth. The project, which includes a suite of free resources designed in collaboration with an advisory board of educators and scholars, was launched in February 2018. Educators could download the framework, browse a library of primary texts, read instructional recommendations and examples of Inquiry Design Models, and listen to the popular Teaching Hard History podcast.

Quote from “Teaching Hard History from the Beginning

These people, a lot of times, forget that children are not developmentally ready for this type of information until they’re much older. 

Katie J. , The State of Education Podcast, presented by One-Room Education.

Little kids do not think on a cognitive level that the people creating this curriculum do. And apparently, they have either forgotten what it’s like to be a little kid or they are doing this on purpose and being insidious about introducing these concepts to kids who aren’t emotionally able to handle them. 

Katie J. , The State of Education Podcast, presented by One-Room Education.

There is something called the 1776 project. It was published in January of 2021 and it was billed as a racist propaganda thing that President Trump did. And I, of course, do not agree with that. You should know that what President Trump did was he saw that what was going on in the American education system was causing the social distortion that we have in the United States currently. So he looked at a bunch of curriculums and said, “You know what, we really need to see what we can do to maybe reestablish a ‘Maybe America isn’t so bad kind’ of curriculum.” 

So he called it the 1776 Commission. They were supposed to write up a report talking about American history and give suggestions on how it can be taught. 

Katie J. , The State of Education Podcast, presented by One-Room Education.

The most common charge levied against the founders and hence against our country itself is that they were hypocrites who didn’t believe in their stated principles, and therefore the country they built rests on lies. This charge is untrue, and has done enormous damage especially in recent years with the devastating effects on our civic unity and social fabric. 

from The 1776 Commission

Many Americans labor under the illusion that slavery was somehow a unique American evil. It is essential to insist at the onset that the institution be seen in a much broader perspective. It is very hard for people brought up in the comforts of modern America, in a time in which the idea that all human beings have inviolable rights and inherent dignity is almost taken for granted to imagine the cruelties and enormities that were endemic in earlier times. But the unfortunate fact is that the institution of slavery has been more the rule than the exception throughout human history. 

from The 1776 Commission

George Washington owned slaves, but came to detest the practice and wished for “a plan adopted for the abolition of it” by the end of his life. He freed all the slaves in his family’s estate. Thomas Jefferson also held slaves and yet included in his original draft of the Declaration, a strong condemnation of slavery, which was removed at the insist of certain slaveholding delegates.

from The 1776 Commission

I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just that his justice cannot sleep forever.

The Jefferson Memorial

The advice and recommendations of the SPLC and Learning for Justice is that you should teach the Civil War strictly from a slave’s perspective and a slavery perspective, and you should only teach about the founding fathers if you also teach about the slaves that the founding fathers had. Are you also going to teach about the fact that George Washington signed into law, the Northwest Ordinance, which forbade slavery from being legal in those states? Are you going to teach a balanced view of history like that? 

Katie J. , The State of Education Podcast, presented by One-Room Education.

The curriculum that is actually put out there by learning for justice does not have a balanced view of American history which I feel is needed because people no longer understand that America was built on ideas and ideals that we can’t really live up to, but they are something to strive towards. 

Katie J. , The State of Education Podcast, presented by One-Room Education.

What these curricula do is tear down the very fabric of the American idea, the American experiment, and the American republic and turn it into a racist slave-owning American democracy that holds down everybody that isn’t a white male, or a white female or anybody that really agrees with white males in general, even if you’re still a minority. 

Katie J. , The State of Education Podcast, presented by One-Room Education.

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