To me, it seems important that we have sections of the year that are dedicated to the history of marginalized communities. This provides one more “nudge” to encourage teachers to make sure that these communities are included in our instruction. However, these months or weeks devoted to the study of particular identity groups come with a risk that students will compartmentalize these events and individuals separately from what they consider to be “history”.
If the only time that we talk about the Civil Rights Movement, Harriet Tubman, Black Lives Matter, or Fred Shuttlesworth is during Black History Month, then what does that say about their importance to American History? If we only talk about Bessie Coleman, Emmeline Pankhurst, Seneca Falls, and Wangari Maathai during Women’s History Month then what message does that send to young boys and girls about World History? One book that is perfect for any time of the year is Changing the Equation: 50+ US Black Women In STEM by Tonya Bolden, which will be available to every reader on March 3, 2020. I greatly appreciate that ABRAMS Kids and NetGalley provided me with the opportunity to read an Advanced Reader Copy.
Bolden writes in an exciting and engaging way with direct references to the reader. The remarkable women profiled in this book include doctors, inventors, physicists, mathematicians, and STEM innovators in many other fields. Many of those profiled were the first women to receive degrees or work in their fields and others were the first Black women to do so. They made important discoveries that influenced research and contributed to knowledge we still draw upon today. So, why don’t we hear about them more often?
There is a lack of representation of women and minorities in STEM fields. I don’t know the exact causes behind this problem, but I imagine that a contributing factor is that we rarely hear about the contributions of trailblazers in these fields who were not white men. With this one book, Bolden has given teachers ample opportunity to introduce students to at least one innovative thinker per week who does not look like Edison, Einstein, or Franklin. Best of all, we don’t have to squeeze them all into February or March in order to acknowledge their achievements.
Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards:
Identity 3: I know that all my group identities are part of who I am, but none of them fully describes me and this is true for other people too.
Justice 14: I know that life is easier for some people and harder for others based on who they are and where they were born.
Justice 15: I know about the actions of people and groups who have worked throughout history to bring more justice and fairness to the world.
RI.1- Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
RI.3- Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.
RI.4- Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text.
RI.8- Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).