Halloween and Its Negative Traditions Analysis

Halloween and Its Negative Traditions Analysis

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Final Assignment: Letter to the Principal Criteria Ratings Pts Part 1: What is the problem? What is the historical context? 8.0 pts Accomplished • Accurately identifies a problematic practice in education. Provides historical background. References reputable sources, such as course readings. 6.0 pts Developing . Mostly identifies a problematic practice in education. Provides historical background. References reputable sources, such as course readings. 4.0 pts Beginning • Attempts to identify a problematic practice in education. Provides historical background. References reputable sources, such as course readings. 8.0 pts Part 2: How does the problem harm/negatively affect students? 8.0 pts 6.0 pts 4.0 pts Accomplished Developing Beginning • Thoughtfully explains why • Provides a largely thoughtful • Somewhat thoughtfully explains and how the problematic explanation of the ways the why and how the problematic practices is harmful to practice is problematic and practices is harmful to students.. students. • Answers questions harmful to students. Seems to Some attempt to answers such as: How does the answer questions such as: How questions such as: How does the practice reinforce inequalities does the practice reinforce practice reinforce inequalities in in education? How does the inequalities in education? How education? How does the practice practice perpetuate does the practice perpetuate perpetuate institutional institutional oppression? institutional oppression? Uses oppression? Uses some outside Uses outside research and/or outside research and/or research and/or references to references to support the references to support the support the argument. Provides argument. Provides clear argument. Mostly provides clear clear examples. examples examples. 8.0 pts Part 3: What are the solutions? What can we do to end or change this practice? 8.0 pts 6.0 pts Accomplished Developing • Provides thoughtful, relevant . Provides mostly thoughtful, solutions. Supports ideas relevant solutions. Supports with outside research, data, or ideas with outside research, relevant experiential data, or relevant experiential knowledge. Identifies several, knowledge. Identifies a couple specific resources for school of relevant resources for school principal or board member principal or board member (such (such as, books, websites, news as, books, websites, news articles, films…). articles, films…). 4.0 pts Beginning • Provides somewhat thoughtful, and relevant solutions. Supports ideas with outside research, data, or relevant experiential knowledge. Identifies at least one relevant resource for school principal or board member (such as, books, websites, news articles, films….. 8.0 pts APA Format 3.0 pts 2.0 pts Accomplished Developing • All sources are accurately cited Most sources are accurately (APA format) and listed on the cited (APA format) and listed on references page using APA style. the references page using APA • Student cites (and includes in style. Student cites (and references) 3 outside sources. includes in references) 3 outside sources. 1.0 pts Beginning • Some sources are accurately cited (APA format) and listed on the references page using APA style. Does not cite and reference at least 3 outside sources. 3.0 pts Grammar and Writing 3.0 pts Accomplished • The letter is free of grammatical and spelling errors. The writing is clear and organized with attention to word-choice and overall flow and cohesion 2.0 pts 1.0 pts Developing Beginning • The letter is mostly free of • The letter is somewhat free of grammatical and spelling errors. grammatical and spelling errors. • The writing is mostly clear and The writing is somewhat clear and organized with attention to organized with attention to word- word-choice and overall flow and choice and overall flow and cohesion cohesion 3.0 pts Dear Principal, In this letter I would like to address the history of Thanksgiving and the problematic practices that this school’s curriculum imposes onto the kindergarteners and first graders. In order to express the severity of these practices, I will briefly dissect the historical context, then dive into the harm this brings to students and their futures, and end with an offering of solutions and resources to adjust the curriculum accordingly. Let’s begin by addressing the history of Thanksgiving and the inaccurate, simplified portrayals that are taught in children’s classrooms. Thanksgiving was not a day full of friendly dinner and camaraderie between the “Indians” and Pilgrims, it was in fact an initiation of massacre, colonization, and enslavement of the Native American people. Native Americans did save the Europeans from starvation, but it was without consent. Colonists forcefully stole land and food from these people and continued to do so for the centuries to come (Dwyer 2011). The “*first Thanksgiving” was not around a table surrounded by pumpkin pie, potatoes, and cranberry sauce, where Europeans and Natives broke bread and began a friendship. This is a harmful, diminutive, and oppressive narrative to spread. There should be a shift in focus from this idea of a special dinner to the history of Native American people and their lifestyles before and after the arrival of colonists. These were people who fully sustained themselves through agriculture and hunting and had established different communities all over the country with different traditions, languages, and customs. Their practices vary from location to location and this should be recognized, but when students are encouraged to create identical construction paper feather headdresses, ignorance of the diversity and variety within the native communities is promoted. After the arrival of Europeans, colonizers thought it their responsibility to Americanize and forcibly assimilate these native people. By stripping them of their language, hair and traditions and forcing them into schools, colonists had respect for their history (PBS 2016). A lot of the times these simplified versions also cause people to believe that Native Americans no longer exist and this is a side effect of our education system. They had dinner with white people and then fell off of the Earth. They still exist today and are still fighting for rights and justice. Just in 2016, there were huge protests over the construction of a North Dakota pipeline near the Standing Rock reservation. This construction caused concerns for protection of water and disturbance of ancient burial grounds of Native Americans. Native American people are disproportionately incarcerated and targeted, they make 1% of the nation’s population, but make up 2% of police killings (Noisecat 2015) Had there been a more informative curriculum surrounding Native Americans’ history, in all of our schools, maybe more respect and acknowledgement could have flourished. By censoring children from the realities of US history, Vera Stenhouse mentions in her article “Rethinking Schools: Thanksgiving,” “…these happy stories maintain ignorance and reinforce stereotypes.” I think an explicit and honest explanation of the reality of the US’s colonization and the suffering of Native Americans is inappropriate for 4-6 year olds, but a fairy tale explanation is also damaging. When teachers encourage their students to dress up as Native Americans with construction paper feathers and brown paper vests, they are encouraging cultural appropriation and the romanticization of an identity (Oh 2012). This promotes stereotyping Native Americans, and reducing a whole culture and background to a DIY, inaccurate, and meaningless costume. I am so upset that my first grade teacher made our class do the same thing, by dividing us into pilgrims and Indians and singing celebratory songs about our great country. I have attached a photo of myself in DIY attire from my first grade class. Children are so accepting and naive, so initiating healthy and accurate portrayals of Native Americans can be extremely beneficial to Native communities as well as the future of these children. A lot of these conversations regarding Pilgrims and Indians, position white people as the savior and advance the white savior complex. This is harmful for students, especially students of color. It teaches minorities and marginalized groups that you need a white person to save you in order for you to achieve success and this further encourages self-doubt and damage to one’s self-efficacy. This ideology also furthers institutional oppression of Native Americans. Our education system is actively working to erase the decades of traditions and practices of Native American people by omitting their history from our curriculum. Teachers have an ethical responsibility to teach about thanksgiving in a socially accurate way (Morris 2015). Supporting Rather than simplifying the history, please encourage your teachers to shift the focus off of this friendly dinner to the practices and traditions of Native Americans before and after the arrival of Europeans. Set aside time in the classroom to introduce and address the history of the people who were here before us. Deborah Menkart, executive director of Teachers for Change, mentions “If you ask most students, they have no idea Native Americans exist today.” It is our responsibility to educate students. Ways to do this can be by implementing children’s books that summarize the actual traditions and diversity of their experiences, written by indigenous authors. Inviting a Native American speaker to come and spread information regarding their perspective of Thanksgiving and discussing their background and ancestry. It is also important to address how Native Americans celebrate Thanksgiving today. For many it is seen as a time of sadness and mourning. In this Youtube video titled, “What Does Thanksgiving Mean to Native Americans?” Vincent Shilling mentions that as a Native American, he chooses to fast on Thanksgiving in honor of the lives lost due to colonization. Teachers should be active in recognizing their responsibility to accurately portray this history. Here I will list resources that can help teachers adjust their curriculum accordingly: -“A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children.” Edited by Doris Seale: This book delves into over 600 different children’s books and critiques the appropriation present in each of them. -Native American perspectives on Thanksgiving poster: https://americanindian.si.edu/sites/1/files/pdf/education thanksgiving_poster.pdf This pdf goes through the historical practices of the Wampanoag people and offers advice for teachers on how to encourage discussions and activities depending on the age of the students. -“What does Thanksgiving mean to Native Americans” Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vlyivp8jweU This video allows for a brief glimpse of the perspective of Native American people today. -The First Thanksgiving: What Really Happened This video animates a more in depth account of what actually occurred when settlers arrived. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ociHVDWxDaY I really appreciate your time and I thank you in advance for the change you will hopefully encourage. Sincerely,
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