Saturday, June 13, 2009

"Would you want to be an Indian?"

Doing some research on use of Gerald McDermott's not-to-be-used-book-about-Pueblo-Indians, Arrow to the Sun, I found a page about global diversity, wherein a kindergarten teacher uses the book....

A culminating activity asks students to draw a picture, and, the teacher poses some questions. She posted two drawings and the Q&A. Here's one set of Q&A (red font is hers):

1. Can you tell me something about Indians? They shoot arrows
2. Would you want to be an Indian? Why or why not? No, because I would be dead

In her reflection of the activity, the teacher says:

State evidence in two or more sentences to show that your students gained knowledge during your Global Diversity lesson.

Through this lesson, my students gained knowledge about Indians that they did not know prior to this lesson. They learned what Indians ate, how they lived, some myths the Indians had, and much more information they did not know previously.

Note the use of past tense, and, the statement that her students gained information. Sadly, they gained MISinformation.


Cheryl said...

That's so sad. An opportunity to teach and learn completely wasted. And more B.S. for everyone to overcome.

jpm said...

The lesson plan you link to, and the children's "work samples" read almost as satire. The topic is a bizarre one for kindergartners: "Learning About Southwest US Indian Reservations With Technology & Literature". A perfect example of what happens when a teacher is 1)not really interested in the topic at hand 2) not knowledgeable about the topic at hand, 3) unaware of the developmental and educational needs of the children she is working with 4) so clueless or so egocentric that she goes ahead and puts it on the Web anyway.

Carys said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carys said...

That is really sad and a terrible waste of a good learning opportunity. The whole "would you want to be an Indian" reminds me of an article in this month's Utne Reader about how popular it is in Germany for people to pretend to BE American Indians. I know it isn't children's lit - but you might be interested - Utne has the article online at

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this very informative lesson plan. It's so good that I think it needs to be expanded to be inclusive of other ethnicities. So here's my contribution:

How to Teach Multiculturalism and Global Diversity to Very Young Children while Developing a Mindset Supporting Manifest Destiny and Encouraging the Notion of Economic and Cultural Hegemony (in under 45 Minutes)

1. Tell the children that you are going to read them a funny poem. (Be enthusiastic.)

2. Read to the children Robert Louis Stevenson's poem, "Foreign Children." You can find it in just about any anthology of children's poetry. (This may be the children's first encounter with the notion of ethnic and cultural superiority. Laugh along with them.)

3. Ask the children if they know what the word "multiculturalism" means. (If the children are not familiar with this concept, tell them that multiculturalism means “when we talk about people that are not like us.”)

4. Ask the children if they know what an “ethnic group” means. (If the children are not familiar with this concept, tell them that an ethnic group means “people that are not like us.”)

5. Ask the children what they know about (x) ethnic group. Enthusiastically praise all answers, especially ones that refer to (x) ethnic group as no longer existing.

6. Ask the children to draw a picture of (x) ethnic group. Enthusiastically praise all pictures. (When praising answers and pictures, be sure to use the term, “good job!”)

7. Read to the children a picture book about (x) ethnic group by a prizewinning author/illustrator from (y) ethnic group who knows nothing about (x) ethnic group, but publically insists on his/her right to mangle the stories of (x) ethnic group for profit.

8. Ask the children what happened in the story. Enthusiastically praise all answers.

9. Ask the children if they would want to be a citizen or member of (x) ethnic group. Enthusiastically praise all answers, especially answers that describe the citizens or members of (x) ethnic group as violent or dead.

10. Tell the children that, the next day, they will hear a story about another ethnic group. Lead applause.

11. Serve healthful snacks.

KT Horning said...

Debbie, this actually looks to me like an assignment turned in by a student teacher who was following a particular model created by a professor:

We can only hope that the teachable moment occurred in the university classroom.

It's very telling what the two kindergarten students she cited took from the lesson.