From the article:
"But the high-performing Herricks school district here in Nassau County, whose student body is more than half Asian, is taking globalization to the graduate level, integrating international studies into every aspect of its curriculum.
A partnership with the Foreign Policy Association has transformed a high-school basement into a place where students produce research papers on North Korea’s nuclear energy program or the Taliban’s role in the opium trade. English teachers have culled reading lists of what they call “dead white men” (think Hawthorne and Hemingway) to make space for Jhumpa Lahiri, Chang-rae Lee and Khaled Hosseini. Gifted fifth graders learn comparative economics by charting the multinational production of a pencil and representing countries in a mock G8 summit.
Starting this year, every sixth grader at Herricks Middle School is required to take art in French, Spanish, Italian or Chinese, a dual-language approach that the school is considering expanding to gym as well. Preparing to create a Haitian-style painting in one French/art class last week, the students reviewed indigenous plants and wildlife in photos of Haitian rainforests and beaches projected onto a screen."Exciting and problematic. Exciting because it is pushing kids to learn geography, to learn about economics and international trade and having one subject all in another language seems an interesting idea. However, the "dead white men" literature doesn't have to be entirely pushed aside. I've seen some of this happening at both Eckstein and Roosevelt and I hope we don't lose a lot by trying to expand horizons.
We had this as a bit of an issue in the recent debate of AP Human Geography at Roosevelt. There was concern over students not getting enough Western Civilization study in favor of a bigger global emphasis.
This perked my interest:
"The global outlook at Herricks comes amid an $8.4 million investment by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others in a nationwide campaign by Asia Society to create new public schools with an integrated global focus; 10 have opened since 2004, including two in New York, and up to 30 more are expected by 2013."
I wonder if one school might be considered for Seattle. Maybe a Board member could find out.
Also from the article:
"During a social studies lesson last week about rebuilding the South during Reconstruction, Neepa Shah asked her fifth-grade students, “Where else in the world did people feel like they were not heard?”
“Kenya,” one boy said.
Just like that, an American history lesson morphed into one about modern problems facing an African nation trying to rebuild after tumultuous elections. Ms. Shah called up a map of Kenya on her computer screen and pushed students to delve ever deeper into the comparison. “We’re looking at this through the lens of what we just learned in our own history,” she told her students."Of course this kind of change is never without disagreement:
"While many parents support the approach, some have expressed concern that as the district teaches about world cultures, no particular one should be emphasized over another. Those parents boycotted a fund-raising dinner-dance for adults held by the Parent Teacher Association last year because they believed its theme of “A Whole New World” from the Disney movie, “Aladdin,” complete with belly dancers, was overly focused on Eastern culture.
Other parents worried when school officials decided in 2005 that teaching about different religions had to be part of its efforts to investigate world issues. It was a significant shift for a district that was the subject of a important Supreme Court decision in 1962 overturning school prayer.
“I don’t remember anyone saying Pandora’s box, but it was like that, people saying, ‘I think it’s a good idea but I’m nervous,’ ” Mr. Bierwirth said."