Hundreds of Virginia teachers creating an anti-racist history curriculum through “Reframing the Narrative” project

Hundreds of Virginia teachers creating an anti-racist history curriculum through “Reframing the Narrative” project

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - While students are out of the classroom, history teachers across Virginia are hard at work. They are uprooting the current curriculum to ensure their classes are getting the full story.

With an anti-racism policy in place, Albemarle County Public School teachers are almost ready to launch the curriculum to support it. Now, with input from hundreds of teachers and professionals, the ‘Reframing the Narrative’ project is gaining traction.

“We’re not really going to solve problems, unless we reckon with the past,” Program Leader John Hobson said.

Teachers from several school districts across the commonwealth now meet via Zoom to fix an outdated history curriculum that is considered broken and biased.

“It’s just years and years of this, of the story we tell ourselves and the story that we’ve been telling ourselves has been convenient to tell,” Hobson said.

Now, a more holistic and truthful story is coming to the forefront.

“I think kids want to dig into what’s sometimes called hard history, right? They don’t want something’s concealed from them,” Hobson said.

‘Reframing the Narrative’ encourages a student-centered approach to learning through open inquiry and discussion.

“Students felt like our history was hidden from us and they, there’s a lot of sort of anger and frustration about that,” Hobson added.

This work started in 2018. Teachers had been working together in person until the pandemic hit. Hobson quickly jumped at the opportunity to lead the charge behind the new curriculum, one that allows students to dig deeper than the textbook.

“Students can tackle hard history and sort of start dialoguing about issues of race and agency, and then ultimately, it culminates in this curriculum writing process,” he said.

To support the course materials, teachers will also encourage more civic involvement and action beyond the classroom.

“Children are citizens and it’s not just about preparing them for citizenship, that’s not what education is about is, it’s about being citizens right now,” Hobson said.

Despite overhauling the team’s workflow, the curriculum is still on track to publish in August. It will be available online as a universal resource for all history teachers.

“We’re now kind of putting pen to paper and then delivering this curriculum,” Hobson said. “I think there’s potential for connection across the country.”

This year, teachers are focusing on the U.S. history curriculum, but the program has plans to revisit world history next year.

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