Skip to main content
Full Menu Close Menu

Historical injustices need to be taught

New York Teacher

I recently learned about the massacre of African-American citizens in the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, an event that has been overlooked during history class. The teaching of critical race theory has unfortunately been hijacked by politicians who define the subject as inflicting suffering for past injustices onto impressionable students. Educators need to push back and define the subject as being inclusive of historical inequities based on racial discrimination. Understanding history more so than advocating any action should be the aim.

Another historical inequity also comes to mind: In 1944, the GI Bill lifted a generation into the middle class — but excluded Black vets who served their country and came home to segregation. The GI Bill gave free college and cheap home loans to millions of veterans, except the country was still segregated when it became law.

Making students aware of such historical injustices would give them a greater understanding of the historical forces that have brought us to the present. Teaching historical truths should be the goal. The mistake that many noneducators make is to perceive students as empty vessels who can easily be manipulated and not as individual creative thinkers who can establish their own positions based on the evidence and reasoning.

Many politicians use the word “indoctrination,” a term an experienced teacher would never use. Educators need to speak out and perhaps refer to a quote by William Butler Yeats: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

Larry Hoffner, retired