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为什么亚裔历史不在美国教科书上?

已有 351 次阅读2021-4-1 12:14 |个人分类:华人历史|系统分类:转帖-时事政治经济

A ‘History of Exclusion, of Erasure, of Invisibility.’ Why the Asian-American Story Is Missing From Many U.S. Classrooms

 What Asian-American history is—and is not—taught

The U.S. has no national curriculum that requires the teaching of any kind of history, let alone Asian-American history. But individual states’ social studies standards, which influence what will be included in standardized tests and textbooks, only scratch the surface of Asian-American history. Though there’s no central database of how Asian-American history shows up in those standards, curricula tend to focus on a few milestones, including Chinese immigration in the mid-19th century, Chinese laborers’ role in building the transcontinental railroad, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and the incarceration of nearly 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry—including American citizens—during World War II.

 

 But those moments hardly tell the whole story. And, educators say, they don’t give an accurate picture of the Asian-American experience.

 A more complete version of the history might include a deeper look at anti-Asian discrimination, with lessons about the mob violence faced by immigrants from Asian countries. It would also include milestones in U.S. history achieved by people of Asian descent, from labor leader Larry Itliong’s role in organizing the landmark Delano Grape Strike to Patsy Mink becoming the first Asian-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. And it would go beyond the boundaries of the United States. With that in mind, on March 19, Moé Yonamine, 43, a high school social studies teacher in Portland, Ore.—who teaches five minutes from where 3,676 Japanese Americans were held before being transported to internment camps—reminded her students that Asian-American history can’t be understood fully without considering the consequences of foreign U.S. actions and how those actions shaped circumstances that led people to flee Asian countries. Yonamine said she will be spending her spring break putting together a lesson plan about Asian-American history-makers to know.

 

“It feels like, while I’m grieving, I’ve been put in action to teach things that we don’t have enough curriculum for,” says Yonamine.

 

Patsy Takemoto Mink attending a subcommittee hearing/markup around 1971-1972. Courtesy Gwendolyn Mink/Patsy Takemoto Mink papers, Library of Congress.

Sohyun An, a professor of elementary and early childhood education at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University who has researched how Asian-American history is represented in state social studies standards nationwide, lives about 20 minutes away from the spas that were attacked. She worries that if students only learn about Asian American history as an immigration story, they may not realize how long the community has actually been here. And, she says, that ignorance can have serious consequences.

  “Asians were part of the United States even well before many white European immigrants came through Ellis Island,” An tells TIME. “Kids grow up in Georgia and think Asians are all foreigners, and when they become ‘the enemy’ to the national crisis like COVID-19, ‘the military enemy’ and ‘economic competitor like China or Japan,’ it’s all coming from a missed opportunity in school [to teach] that Asians are a part of America…Curriculum is not a matter of academic debate. The danger is real.”

 ‘They don’t want to talk about race’

 Georgia’s state social studies standards for what fifth-grade students are expected to know list Japanese aggression in Asia and the Pearl Harbor attacks, but not the incarceration of Japanese-Americans in the U.S. One of An’s students, Lisa Chu, 29, a fifth-grade teacher in suburban Atlanta, says she’s asked her students in the last year to consider why that is.

 “They’re able to kind of see we don’t learn this because we either don’t think it’s important enough to learn, or it just kind of puts the U.S. in a bad light,” says Chu, “and so it’s better to talk about other countries and their wrongdoings than it is our own and to be reflective of our own past mistakes.”

 Scholars agree that one of the reasons a full history of Asian Americans has not been incorporated into core U.S. History curricula in K-12 schools is because it doesn’t portray America in a positive light.

“K-12 American history texts reinforce the narrative that Asian immigrants and refugees are fortunate to have been ‘helped’ and ‘saved’ by the U.S.,” Jean Wu, who has taught Asian American Studies for more than 50 years and is a senior lecturer emerita at Tufts University, said in an email to TIME. “The story does not begin with U.S. imperialist wars that were waged to take Asian wealth and resources and the resulting violence, rupture and displacement in relation to Asian lives. Few realize that there is an Asian diaspora here in the U.S. because the U.S. went to Asia first.”

 Occasionally, major world events can lead to more teaching of Ethnic Studies—but that hasn’t been the case with Asian-American history.

 “Attention to teaching histories and realities of racialized marginalized groups has always been reactionary instead of proactive in U.S. K-12 education,” Wu says. “Historic moments such as the murder of Vincent Chin, the Japanese-American Redress Movement, the destruction of Koreatown, 9/11 and targeting of South Asian Americans did not engender interest in AAPI histories and curricular re-evaluation in K-12.”

 The obstacles to improvement are many. For example, Noreen Naseem Rodríguez, an Assistant Professor of Elementary Social Studies at Iowa State University, says that many of the teaching candidates she supervises have not had exposure to a wide range of historical perspectives, and might hesitate when it comes to instructing them. In the 2017-2018 school year, about 80% of public school teachers were white, compared to 2% who were Asian.

 “I see this real terror that they’re going to say or do something that will upset parents and end their careers, so they don’t want to talk about race,” Rodríguez says. “They want books that have diverse characters, but they don’t really want to talk about racial discrimination or stereotypes, unless it’s through a simplified context of bullying. So when teachers are trying to emphasize notions of being nice or kind rather than being anti-racist, not being unjust, that’s why we’re not ready as a society, or particularly as K-12 educators, to deeply engage with these topics because perhaps we ourselves haven’t done that learning.”

  “I see this real terror that they’re going to say or do something that will upset parents and end their careers, so they don’t want to talk about race,” Rodríguez says. “They want books that have diverse characters, but they don’t really want to talk about racial discrimination or stereotypes, unless it’s through a simplified context of bullying. So when teachers are trying to emphasize notions of being nice or kind rather than being anti-racist, not being unjust, that’s why we’re not ready as a society, or particularly as K-12 educators, to deeply engage with these topics because perhaps we ourselves haven’t done that learning.”

The way forward

There are signs, however, that people may be ready to learn. The increase in Asian Americans in Congress, in Hollywood, in newsrooms and among K-12 teachers have all been key to raising awareness of the lack of Asian American history, historian and author Erika Lee tells TIME, after testifying during the historic March 18 congressional hearing on anti-Asian discrimination. The real question now, she says, is whether that frustration over lack of resources will be channeled into meaningful systemic change in rethinking core U.S. History curricula.

 Leading education non-profits and publishers such as Zinn Education Project, Learning for Justice and Rethinking Schools have long tried to address the issue by publishing articles and lesson plans on Asian-American history-makers and milestones and that adapt historians’ work for young readers. And the education organization Facing History tells TIME it is working on a new curriculum on Asian Pacific Islander and Asian American Pacific Islander history. There are also Asian-American organizations that offer resources, like the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s education website. One new resource for teachers that came out in 2020 are lesson plans for K-12 by Asian Americans Advancing Justice, pegged to the PBS Asian Americans documentary that aired in May 2020, and the organization is figuring out how to organize professional development workshops for teachers.

However, there is not one universal aggregator for U.S. teachers for all available resources on this subject. If educators want to teach this history, it’s usually up to them to hunt for the information, websites, and professional development workshops to attend.

 “This is a problem with education, because no one wants to put any money towards it,” says Karen Korematsu, Fred Korematsu’s daughter and Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute to promote education on Japanese-American incarceration.

 In terms of policy efforts, a Connecticut House bill aims to include Asian American history in a model curriculum for public schools, and an Illinois House bill aims to require an Asian American history unit in elementary schools and high schools. On March 18, the California State Board of Education approved a roughly 900-page Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum that includes

about a dozen AAPI lessons. The curriculum isn’t mandatory, but a reference for school districts; Karen Korematsu was involved in the effort for it to include more AAPI topics.

 “Right now we’re seeing so much interest and response to learning about Asian-American history, Asian-American women, and the history of anti-Asian racism,” says Lee. “There is the potential for this moment right now to be an opportunity where there is a greater reckoning of the ways in which this lack of historical lessons are a disservice to our country and our communities. There is a moment here, an opportunity, where we may see not just an interest this week and next week, but a newfound commitment and resources and institutions that will sustain it for the many years to come.”

 


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