Schools in Toronto will offer a course on anti-Black racism starting this year
The death of George Floyd last May reignited a global conversation about systemic racism. At Newtonbrook Secondary School in Toronto, it even inspired a much-needed curriculum on anti-Black racism.
Four Black high school teachers developed the Grade 12 course titled "Deconstructing anti-Black racism in the Canadian North American context" after a roundtable with concerned students.
"As a young person, myself and the other educators, we grew up through this system of education and we know what's been delivered," D. Tyler Robinson, one of the teachers, told blogTO.
"When we're in class, there's an opportunity as an educator to make space for these conversations that are impactful to kids. There's an opportunity to rebuild and repair through discussion."
Caitlin Clark, spokesperson for Ontario's Minister of Education, says teaching around racism begins in Kindergarten and continues in elementary school throughout various grades in a number of subjects, including the recently updated Health and Physical Education curriculum and the Social Studies, History and Geography curriculum.
"We're completely committed to fostering an education system where all students, parents, staff and members of the school community feel safe, welcome and respected, and where every student is supported and inspired to succeed in a culture of high expectations for learning – full stop," she said.
"Our government has taken action to counter racism in our education system, and we know there is more work to do. That work includes ensuring our curriculum better reflects the diversity and experiences of every Ontarian."
Although there is some current curriculum around racism at schools, Robinson says it's either scattered or only covered briefly in one chapter within a course that covers a broad range of Social Justice subjects.
"You're just playing around the top of each issue and not providing the time and space to go deep," he says.
Robinson, alongside fellow teachers Tiffany Barrett, Remy Basu and Kiersten Wynter, pulled from about six existing courses to develop the comprehensive four-unit course that covers anti-Black racism when it comes to language, history and media.
"We'll not just be quickly touching on issues that negatively impact Black kids or focusing on it during Black history month, but making space to really delve into a really complex topic."
So far, five other schools in Toronto will be offering the course for the upcoming school year, including Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute and C.W. Jefferys.
Robinson hopes that the Ministry of Education will administer the course as well as other courses like this all around Ontario.
"It's our job to adequately prepare kids for the world that they have to face," he says."If every time they look on social media, they see a whole bunch of racism, it's the Ministry of Education and educators' role to deconstruct what's happening."
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