Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Good Assignment, Or Bad?

It could be either, depending on how it was conducted:
Jessica Gibson says she won't let her 11-year-old son complete a school assignment that she says took a lesson about slavery too far.

"Pretend that you are a slave in the southern United States," says the assignment. "Write a journal/diary memoir about your life."

Gibson, 27, of Melvindale, Mich., said her sixth-grade son, Taylan, received the social studies assignment from a Strong Middle School teacher last month. But her son hid it from her, later telling her he didn't want to do it. Gibson found out about it last week.

"He's never had a master nor will he ever have a master, so why should he have to pretend to have a master?" Gibson said. "That really disturbed me"...

Taylan had been learning about slavery when he got the assignment. He said it embarrassed him.

"I'm black, and it was a slave assignment," he said.

His mother, who is biracial, said she doesn't think anyone should be required to complete the assignment, regardless of race.

"For him to pretend to be something he's never been or never will be, that's going too far," she said.
Should the child be allowed to complete an alternate assignment if a parent finds an assignment inappropriate? I assert that the answer is yes, sometimes. A parent who finds one assignment exceedingly inappropriate, well, accommodate that. If a parent finds too many assignments inappropriate, then teachers would be going beyond providing alternate assignments and would be being asked to provide an alternate curriculum for a particular student. At that point, the parent is out of line and either needs to accept the approved curriculum or find a different school for their child.


Anonymous said...

Strange, I seem to remember that it was illegal, in the slave states, to teach slaves to read and write or to have any other education. I daresay that some circumvented this, but I doubt that there was lots of journaling among slaves. Might that point be significant, in this situation?

scott mccall said...

i agree that the student should be required to do this assignment if the parent is against it, but a make-up assignment (one designed as not to punish the student by making it a more difficult assignment) should be given to the student

Dean Baird said...

Wait. Did the slave math story slip past RotLC?

Racial politics, math, education: seems like it should be here. I'll admit I don't see every post, so maybe you gave it full coverage and I missed it.

Darren said...

This one?

DADvocate said...

Disagree with the mom on this one. Strange assignment to give a black kid though. When I was in K-12 the teachers generally gave us choices from a range of assignments. It was even rare that we all had to read the same book for English, maybe once a year.

MikeAT said...


You may wanna try the search feature at the bottom before making a comment like that.

Anonymous said...

"For him to pretend to be something he's never been or never will be, that's going too far,"

That's sort of the point of pretending!