A teacher in Minneola, Florida is under fire for a lesson in racism she gave to students returning from the Martin Luther King holiday. The teacher, who works at a charter school called Minneola Elementary, conducted a social experiment meant to show her children the dangers of discrimination. One problem: The kids are only in the first grade. Second problem: She didn’t clear the lesson with administrators. Third problem: She didn’t notify parents until after the lesson had taken place.
This trio of problems has her in hot water with parents, to say nothing of Principal Sherry Watts. Watts said that the teacher did not receive authorization to conduct the experiment, which involved separating children by eye color and then giving preferential treatment – candy, hugs – to children with blue eyes and depriving the children with brown eyes.
“The experiment shouldn’t have taken place at all. It’s not appropriate for first grade,” Watts said. “It was not in her lesson plans.”
While parents said they understood that the teacher probably had good intentions, they sharply disagreed with her methods.
“I think the teacher probably meant, intended good for it, but the only problem with that is that the kids being so young and not understanding the point she was trying to bring across,” parent Michael Ruffin said.
Another parent, Lychelle Bland, wasn’t quite as sympathetic. “It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard that a teacher did to teach a child something,” Bland said.
To be sure, this one-day lesson is unlikely to traumatize these kids to the point where they’ll need therapy, but that’s not the point. The point is that we’re not going to get rid of our societal problems of racism in this way. You think first-graders are harboring all of this discriminatory racism in their hearts? Of course not. This stuff has to be learned, and you can teach it to them in more ways than actually being racist. You can also teach it to them by making such a big deal about it like this lesson aims to do. How can any generation escape the sins of the last if that’s all they hear about?
Maybe this teacher performed the experiment with the best of intentions and maybe she didn’t. This kind of crap is happening in schools across the country, where administrators and teachers think it’s so important to make children “check their privilege”. And it’s just nonsense. Let’s stop passing our racism down to the next generation. Let’s let them figure it out on their own. Maybe we can finally end these tiresome social divides if we just stop talking about them.