Middle Schoolers Face Issues of Police Behavior as Part of Socially Conscious Curriculum
This week, the 7th and 8th graders in Ms. Patilla’s class have been learning about violence against black people by police officers. On Tuesday, the students read and analyzed Darren Wilson’s deposition on the death of Michael Brown. First, the students drew their own interpretations of each part of the deposition. Then, in a stimulating classroom discussion, they thought deeply about the deposition, and connected Darren Wilson’s and the media’s narrative of Michael Brown to systematic racism in America.
On Thursday, the class worked in groups to piece together puzzles Ms. Patilla had made of the faces of six victims of police violence, including Eric Garner, Aiyana Stanley Jones, and Trayvon Martin. Then, in their groups, the students learned and discussed the details of each person’s death. The students took care to be thoughtful about the stories they were learning about. They weren’t afraid to ask each other deep and difficult questions about the nature of each person’s death, and how these deaths connect to race and racism.
This curriculum is part of the students’ year-long study of African American history, and sets the stage for their comprehensive study of American slavery and the Civil Rights Movement.