Despite It Not Being Required, Local Educators Make Teaching Black History a Priority


INDIANOLA, Iowa — The Common Core State Standards Initiative doesn’t require educators to teach their students about Black History during the month of February. Some might find parts of black history a little harsh to teach students. However, local educators say there’s a way it can be done.

“There’s a kid version for everything, without the ugly you can’t always see the good. You can’t always see the triumph,” Hubbell Elementary Principal,” Carrie Belt said.

Second-grade teacher Kathy Pedersen reads informative literature about black history to her students and encourages them to do research on historical African American figures.

“Kids are very brave and smart and intuitive and they bring a lot to the table,” Pedersen said. “So I kind of let them guide the conversation and I found that by doing that, it stays at their level wherever that level may be.”

An Iowa State professor of African American studies, Brian Behnken said it’s important for teachers to open up this dialogue with students at an early age, no matter what their class looks like. Behnken makes it a point in his classrooms to talk about moments such as the Harlem Renaissance to show his students different sides of black history.

“It’s really cool. It’s not you know it’s not just this awful history of oppression and racism. There’s more to it than that,” Behnken said.

He says the goal of teaching black history isn’t to encourage white guilt but to celebrate black culture.

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