As educators, it is our responsibility to teach the children in our care to the best of our knowledge and ability. In order to do that, we need to continue to educate ourselves. There have been advances in science since most of us have been in school. We keep up on that and teach it. And even history gets new pieces added to it. For example, in April 2021, they found the home of Ben Ross, Harriet Tubman’s father. Who knows how much more of her story we will learn now?
Plus a lot of history that we learned in school was only part of the story. Figures who were painted as saints often had some major flaws that also need to be acknowledged. If we want to teach the truth. We need to be aware of the narrative that we are passing on.
Enter Stamped. There are three versions to this book: the original, Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi; one for advanced middle grade through young adult, Stamped: The Remix, adapted by Jason Reynolds from the original; and Stamped for Kids, for the younger crowd. I started right in the middle. Honestly, it is because it happened to be on sale. But I figured it was as good a place as any to start.
I really liked the way this one was written. It is very conversational, which makes it extremely easy to read. And it is jam-packed with information. Most of the names mentioned I already knew. But this book fills in some of the gaps that were not widely shared about all of these people.
I was fortunate in high school to have taken a history class about just the American Civil War that went deeper into the story than traditional textbooks. A couple of years ago, I found on Wondrium (formerly Great Courses) A New History of the American South that goes way back to pre-colonial times. I appreciated how often the instructor said, “This is what you were taught in school. Here is what really happened.” I was so fascinated by it all that I had to rewatch it to soak up even more.
And then I read this book. It complements that course I just mentioned, but also is the story of racism. I’ve never been able to wrap my head around racism and why people demean others based on the color of their skin. Now I understand a bit better, though the ignorance still blows my mind.
How would I use this in my teaching? Again, it’s important that I understand the full picture before I try to share with others. I think how in my studies to become a math teacher, I had to take advanced calculus classes. I needed a much deeper understanding of what was behind what I was teaching. And now if and when I have that super intuitive kid who asks some tough questions, I am better prepared to answer them.
With the right age group, I may even consider reading parts of the book for the appropriate age level as a conversation tool or as part of our history lessons (even though it is technically not a history book).
It will also help you to better understand some of your students. You’ll understand where they’re coming from on both sides of the racism/prejudice issue. And some of them are probably learning this story at home. You may also find yourself better relating to the parents as well.
But most importantly, I know that I am bettering myself. And one of our jobs as Montessorians is to continue to improve ourselves.
Read my book review at Andi’s Young Adult Books.
Get your copy of Stamped on Amazon. (affiliate link)