Spoiler Alert: You're Wrong
Glenn and I can talk about the importance of social studies education to our nation's future until we're blue in the face. But the most intriguing part of our conversation really centered on what Glenn calls the original sin of our city: segregation.
For some that word instantly seems historic...something we dealt with in the past. It's not. Our city continues to be listed among the top 10 most segregated cities in the US. And it's not necessarily for the reasons you think. In the show notes I linked a great piece looking at the way government policies have shaped our adventures in real estate. It feels horrible to be so manipulated by decades of laws, codes, and inept leaders all designed to keep us apart.
But many of us would never know that because our social studies courses, in large part, fail to talk about history, policy, and the economy in a way that helps kids actually see how they can be easily guided by others' biases and shortcomings...and how to overcome such manipulation.
But it feels scary as teachers to address those issues. Some of us don't fully understand the impact of these issues. Some of us are afraid of conflict with parents and the community. Some are afraid of offending those of different races. Personally, I'm afraid of all these things. But I learned a simple way to head off some of the most angry responses I get when discussing issues of race and segregation with any group: I'm entirely willing to be wrong.
In fact, the longer I talk and the more questions I ask, the more likely it is I'll say something that is offensive, ignorant, or just plain untrue. All of us will. And the reason is we haven't figured this all out yet. We just have to be honest, vulnerable, and willing to listen and learn. We don't have to say everything just right. So when we continue engaging in these conversations a(s we must to move forward) let's show one another patience and kindness. Because we're all in this together and the people of this region absolutely have it within themselves to figure it out.
We're STL after all.