Tuesday, 1 March 2011

K-12 teaching in North Carolina

I encountered a number of problems with trying to locate the curriculum for each school I tried, as you had to be a student/parent to have access to it. Eventually I found the following page: http://its.guilford.k12.nc.us/webquests/immigration/immigration.htm which outlines the 5th Grade Social Science class.

"North Carolina Standard Course of Study: 3.02 Examine how changes in the movement of people, goods, and ideas have affected ways of living in the United States."

Here are some of the things the introduction includes:
  • "During the years between 1820 and 1924, thirty-five million people came to America from countries around the world."
  • "When they arrived in America, most immigrants had to go to a place called Ellis Island outside of New York City."
  • "At Ellis Island, immigrants were inspected before they were allowed into the United States."
It provides a link called "Stories of Yesterday and Today" for the students to use in order to find out more. http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/immigration/index.htm
However, it clear immediately that this site is bias because they only use the more uplifting stories of immigrants and the only negativity expressed was in regards to the long journey to America.

"It was uncomfortable and crowded. I went up on deck all the time, just to have room to move around."

In the story of the young boy from 1920 it highlights the idea of the American Dream and it didn't seem to show anything of the immigrants wanting to continue their own ways of life in this new country. Even when less immigrants were being taken into the country, this wasn't a problem for this boy because he used his fame as a singer to entertain the President and get the rest of his family from Poland to join himself and his father and uncle.

"Right away I started singing in concerts and making money to help bring the rest of my family to America. I sang in school, too. I sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and "The Star-Spangled Banner." I learned quickly."
"After I sang, I met the President. He shook my hand and told me that I sang well. He said he'd help get my mother, brothers, and sisters to America. We would be a family again!"

There's also a case study of a Chinese family who went to join another relative and although her story mentions the Chinese Exclusion Act, the site itself overlooks this and the point for students to "think about" at the end of that page is:

"How hard would it be for you to leave home today? What kind of things would you want to take with you? What would you have to leave behind?"

I think that what students are taught is very bias, they don't want to create any negative image of their country and they skip past all of the difficulties and problems that immigrants would have had to cope with. They use very rare cases of rags to riches tales.

"I've had a good life living here. I encounter very little prejudice today. I have many friends that span the color of the rainbow. My life is comfortable and my children are happy in their chosen professions. I live in a multi-ethnic development. All my siblings are successful, law-abiding citizens. We have achieved our American Dream."

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