Tuesday, 8 March 2011

K-12 teaching of immigration

I found this task quite difficult because it was hard to find a school website which had a detailed description of what is taught in the lessons. However, I chose to analyse the curriculum of Shady Hill School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In seventh grade they learn about early American history, focusing on colonisation and in eighth grade they learn about immigration in the US; they fail to mention the fact that everyone except the Native Americans are immigrants, thus implying that the white Anglo-Americans are superior and ‘real’ Americans. It appears that they look at a range of nationalities in the curriculum; on this website it mentions Irish, Mexicans, Asians and African-Americans. From this, it seems that they focus on more obvious immigrants and they completely leave out immigrants like other Europeans who accounted for many of the immigrants who came to the US during ‘the Great Deluge’ 1870-1920; therefore it is a partly biased view on US immigration.

The curriculum does look at the issues of immigration so it is more than just who immigrated where and why. It says, ‘we focus on the question of citizenship and belonging... we consider whether it is ever justifiable for a government to violate the rights of its people... we explore the theme of a dream deferred and wonder about the differences between segregation, integration, and assimilation’. They do this by looking at the role of borders, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and Ellis Island. Therefore this school presents the history of immigration as a complex issue and they explore how the government handle it while touching upon the subject of discrimination. However, its presentation is still reasonably biased because it doesn’t look at in great detail about how the immigrants actually live, the poverty, housing issues and unemployment.

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