Is the tragic Michael Brown shooting by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo., a teachable moment?
The Obama administration perhaps thinks so.
The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans recently tweeted out an “in case you missed it” link to an article outlining a Michael Brown-focused pedagogical component, which could be interpreted as an endorsement.
The article originally authored in late August (and updated in October) by Dr. Christopher Emdin in the run-up to the new school year, identified five ways for classroom teachers to incorporate Ferguson and Michael Brown into the classroom, particularly for students of color. “Bringing the events in Ferguson to the classroom is not only best teaching practice but a way to establish powerful expectations for the academic year,” Dr. Emdin wrote in the essay published by the Huffington Post.
Michael Brown was fatally shot by Officer Wilson on August 9, an incident which subsequently dominated the national headlines and the cable TV news cycle for weeks. A St. Louis grand jury returned no indictment against the officer on November 24, prompting protests in the local area (and around the country), some of which turned violent.
Emdin, a former middle and high school teacher and current Columbia University professor, is the director of Secondary School initiatives at the Urban Science Education Center in New York.
His recommendations include finding out what students know or have heard about the Michael Brown shooting and what they want to know, helping students identify linkage between the Michael Brown case and other similar events, assigning students to write letters to lawmakers, police, and victims of violence, creating a classroom memorial to honor Michael Brown, and employing the Michael Brown case as a theme for the entire school year.
Specifically as to a classroom memorial, Dr. Emdin wrote that “Students may choose to draw, write poetry, design art pieces, paint, or collect news clippings. Students can use this opportunity to create a counter-narrative to negative stories and images about Ferguson and Michael Brown, or even to document stories and images they have seen in the media about the case. Engaging in this type of activity allows teachers to understand youth strengths and form classroom solidarity.”
Separately, in the aftermath of the Michael Brown protests, President Obama announced a $263 million community policing initiative which also includes additional training for law enforcement agencies. The president also intends to sign an executive order “creating a task force on policing, which will look at ways to reduce crime while building public trust,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
In other developments, in a speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Monday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department would soon issue guidance that would end racial profiling by police “once and for all.”
Given the massive media coverage of the controversy, do you think it’s appropriate to bring Ferguson and Michael Brown into the classroom?
[image via Twitter]