Students Professors Teachers CHMCA Administration Introduction
Huck Finn Teacher's Guide
Culture Shock Perspectives at Cherry Hill: Students
  Students helped shape the new curriculum by speaking out at the early meetings. Their role now is to help teachers evaluate the success of the curriculum as it is taught. Although some students complained that the controversy seemed overblown in the first place ("We don't get enough credit for understanding things-we could have read it without all of this"), many seemed to appreciate the richer context of the new curriculum. "This stuff [racism] is all over the news. We can't avoid it. . . . We already learn it outside of school, why not study it in school and get the real facts?" observed one student who had just finished reading Huck Finn with the new curriculum. Another student commented, "I think the impact of this book is in the discomfort the readers feel. . . . Huck Finn is perfect to read if it's taught correctly."

Advice

  • Look at classroom discussions about topics such as race and culture as an opportunity to open others' minds and broaden their knowledge about your own culture, whatever it is. If someone says something that offends you, however, speak up. Dawn McCargo, one of the original student complainants, says, "Don't sit and be quiet. Kids can interact with their teachers these days, so it's our responsibility to bring up that we're uncomfortable -- then it's the teacher's responsibility to address that."

  • Don't feel you have to speak for all members of your racial, ethnic, religious, or cultural group; speak only for yourself, and make clear that's all you can do if the class or teacher seems to assume otherwise.

  • Keep an open mind when reading a book that at first might appear racist or otherwise offensive. "That might not be what the book is saying, so try to get past it," McCargo says.

Next: Creating the Curriculum


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