Courtesy of NPR, an excellent article on the newest visitors to refugee children: the Sesame Street Muppets.
We are fascinated by the research process that Sesame Workshop is up to here.
In partnership with the International Rescue Committee, Sesame producers and early-childhood experts are soliciting guidance and feedback from relief organizations, trauma experts, academics and others who have worked with refugees. They’ll also be making research visits to refugee camps in Jordan.
According to the IRC, of the 65 million people displaced from their homes worldwide, more than half are children.
As American readers, steeped in multiculturalism (not to mention as Bay Area readers, used to a high level of diversity), what stood out the most to us, though, was what children might not be taught.
Cairo Arafat, who oversees production of the Arabic language Sesame Street from Abu Dhabi, urged her colleagues not to make assumptions that refugees will share their values such as inclusivity.
“In many of these populations,” she said, “children are still taught, ‘No. Be wary of the people who don’t talk like you, don’t look like you or come from a different sect.’ ” With the special conditions facing refugees — including security issues — Arafat advised careful thinking about what they would like to teach.
The second executive action on immigration has created more uncertainty and fear, and students are in the thick of it. We’re hearing this loud and clear from our survey respondents. To that end, here are two resources for helping immigrant and refugee students.
Here are an article and video that speak to immigration and deportation and shed some light on the history of sanctuaries (past) and sanctuary cities (present).
“Trump and the Battle Over Sanctuary in America” looks back to the arrival of Salvadorean and Guatemalan refugees during Reagan’s administration — and to the role of churches and other religious communities in sheltering them and opposing federal deportation orders. The story then considers policy under the Obama administration and the possible actions of the Trump administration.
We like the embedded video for adding the stories of a present-day father of three sheltering in a church, the pastor whose church he inhabits, and a Guatemalan woman who was sheltered by a church in the 1980s. Viewing today’s searing events through the lens of previous ones gives hope that we can find a kinder way.
The article and video are part of a New York Times series called Retro Report: Essays and Documentary Videos that Re-examine the Leading Stories of Decades Past.
(Photo of Reagan by J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press from the NYT article referenced below.)
Reading has been shown, over and over, to help readers of all ages develop empathy. Here are a couple of things we’ve been reading lately that may help students face the current situation.
As reported by The Atlantic, teachers are using historical fiction to help students put the current moment, and its impacts on various groups of people, in context. “Using Historical Fiction to Connect Past and Present” is worth a read, if only for the titles sprinkled throughout that may come in handy. There’s also a nice take on how teachers can help students make comparisons even if politics is a touchy subject in their classrooms.
And while teachers must obviously be wary of making false equivalencies or grand generalizations, understanding history more thoroughly than what’s offered in, for example, a textbook leads students to an educated examination of current events. For example, referring to possible comparisons with the treatment of Japanese Americans during the internment, Levstik explains the need for teachers to ask: “When somebody says they’re going to lock up people on the basis of their religion, their ethnic background, their point of origin, what does that look like in our history?”
And from New York Magazine, a curated list of books about immigration and refugees. Go check it out.
Soon after Donald Trump enacted his travel ban, the Upper West Side’s Bank Street Book Store posted a photo of front-facing titles to its Facebook page. “Don’t be at a loss for words when explaining to children that the heart and soul of America is to welcome others to our country who need a safe place to make a home,” the caption read. “Books like these help.”
As Trump’s first 100 days continue, we will be doing our best to provide resources and materials that can be immediately useful. If there’s something in particular you’d like to see, please let us know.
For today, some background reading and lesson plans.
One of those teachers is Sabrina Brooks, a seventh grade humanities teacher at San Francisco Friends School, who began her class yesterday by having students read and discuss material in Nicholas Kristof’s editorial, “President Trump, meet my family.”
Brooks didn’t have Kristof’s editorial etched into her lesson plans until this weekend, when protests around the country unfolded in response to the travel ban. But it fit with the unit she has been teaching on decision-making in times of injustice. The unit, as Brooks describes, looks at “history of immigration policy marginalization of at risk groups, the factors that led to Hitler’s rise, and the behavior of people who were bystanders and upstanders in these contexts.”
From The New York Times, a lesson plan appropriate for high school and college students, “Analyzing Trump’s Immigration Ban: A Lesson Plan.” The lesson relies mainly on articles but does incorporate video elements that could be skipped if students do not have easy access to tech in the classroom.
However, with Mr. Trump’s pronouncement on Jan. 27, the U.S. once again excludes immigrants based on national origin from countries like Iraq, Yemen and Sudan.
This activity invites students to analyze Mr. Trump’s stated purpose for his executive order (as explained within Section 1 of the text), then consider three pieces in The Times that question its effectiveness, legality and interpretation of American values.
The lesson plan also includes a list of other lesson plans from The Times’ Learning Network that educators may find helpful.