A year-long class on diversity is an elective at affluent, high-performing Jericho Middle School, where most students are white or Asian-American, reports the New York Times.
Fifteen eighth graders at Jericho Middle School were considering a fictional case of stereotyping by hair color the other day, or how a boy came to be prejudiced against people with green hair, or “greenies.” From there, they extrapolated to the stereotypes in their own lives: dumb football players, Asian math whizzes, boring bankers.
Teacher Elisa Weidenbaum Waters hopes to “build acceptance, awareness and appreciation that people may be different than you.”
There are no quizzes or tests in the class, and homework is assigned only occasionally. Instead, there are free-flowing discussions about privilege, discrimination and oppression, and readings, like the recent one about people with green hair from “Prejudiced — How Do People Get That Way?” — a book published by the Anti-Defamation League.
School leaders say students growing up in Jericho need preparation for the diverse world they’ll encounter in college and beyond.
The class easily could turn into “amorphous mush” with little intellectual value, warned Rick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Class discussions could be slanted to “favor more popular, progressive views,” Hess added.
“You know it’s a bad idea . . . when Crash is on the teacher-training syllabus,” writes Liam Julian on Flypaper.
A year-long diversity workshop sounds like a giant bore, even if students don’t have to do much work. It’s possible to learn a great deal about human differences and similarities by reading literature or studying history. Why not design a humanities class that deals with these issues while also asking students to read challenging books, not just pamphlets, and expand their knowledge of the world?