Faculty Post: Grade 6 DEI Curriculum Insight
by Aaron Doyle
This month in Grade 6, we have been studying Africa and the Americas. I hope to share not only some of the content we covered, but also the considerations and constraints I considered and what informed the direction of this block.
In Grade 6, geography looks out beyond our immediate area and includes the people and cultures of the larger world. Some threads of continuity arose from subjects earlier in the year that inspired us as they came together in this block. When our class was learning about African-American Inventors during Black History Month, we noted how many of them came from the south-eastern part of the U.S.. Additionally, when we studied geology, the image of the continents spreading apart from where they once nested together in Pangea took hold in the class imagination. We could see how Brazil fits like a puzzle into Western Africa. I shared the ways these continents are still connected despite their distance and revealed the cultural/racial landscape of the Americas.
There is a beautiful soul mood of Grade 6 where they are stepping into the adult world. This brings questions such as what kind of virtues do we want to help them embody as they develop. I felt like I was threading a needle. I wanted to explore the African diaspora , and acknowledge, yet not focus on, the slave trade. I am conscious not to bring a jaded view of the world doomed by the evils of slavery, yet I do want them to truly see the people and cultures around them. Colonialism and the slave trade is a major subject next year in Grade 7. Luckily the sixth graders are conscious enough that I could bring the information and frame it as part one of what we will explore next year. Our first step is to look around us and see who is in our world and in Grade 7 we will explore the complexities by which our history was written.
We mapped the outline of Africa and North and South America. We defined the biomes and filled in the land. Next we showed the dispersal of the African diaspora throughout the Americas across the Atlantic. Finally we created overlays that showed the population of indigenous and African descended people in North and South America. The maps are beautiful. The groundwork is laid so when we do pick up this subject next year we can dive deeper into the how and why.