Stanford researchers develop secondary school curriculum to address race and police violence

TRAVIS BRISTOL, a research and policy fellow at the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, and CLAUDE GOLDENBERG, professor of education at Stanford, have created a curriculum that supports teaching about the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, and the protests and civil unrest that followed in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014. The mini-unit, composed of four lessons, is presented on the website of Edutopia.

From left, Claude Goldenberg and Travis Bristol. (Photo courtesy of Stanford Graduate School of Education.)

The two scholars note that the events in the St. Louis suburb, as well as the more recent death of a young black man in Baltimore while in police custody, present schools with a challenge that they need not shy away from. “We believe that the classroom is an important arena to address these events,” they write. “Not only are most students aware of and concerned about them  – especially those who live with the same realities  – but addressing this trend gives our society one more tool to further change, and helps America’s children learn ways to be engaged and responsible citizens.”

Bristol and Goldenberg say that the “mini-unit” is aligned with the Common Core and is intended for students in secondary school English or social studies classes. It involves reading primary documents, watching an eyewitness and first-person account, analyzing the credibility of testimony and then developing and presenting written and oral arguments on the Ferguson case.

“In designing this mini-unit, we call on all teachers  – whether in K-12 or university settings  – to develop similar curriculum allowing students to engage critically with primary documents that highlight violence in communities of color,” they add. “Moreover, this unit is also a call to our colleagues in university settings to remain relevant by providing K-12 teachers with resources to facilitate engagement and learning.”

To read their entire commentary and to obtain the free lessons and supporting materials, please visit Edutopia.