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Do’s and Don’ts of Teaching Black History | Teaching Tolerance

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Teaching the contextual nuances of history can be extremely difficult especially in isolation during a thirty-day period. Yet, each year, we ask teachers to breathe life and give shape to the cultural, political, and social landscape of history during a very small window of time.

Given this important task, I believe it is vital to approach the study of the different heritage months the same way you would any topic/theme in the classroom (with deep thought and careful planning). In 2007, the folks at Teaching Tolerance published a useful list of do’s and don’ts for teaching during Black History month. The list was adapted from material by Pat Russo of the Curriculum & Instruction Department at SUNY Oswego, and I believe it is a useful resource tool to help teachers plan their lessons during black history month or any other heritage month. tlb 


  • Incorporate black history (or any other heritage month) year-round into the curriculum
  • Continue learning (provide in-depth, continuous, and thorough understanding of the subject/theme)
  • Reinforce to students that “black” or “women’s” history is American history
  • Relate lessons to other parts of the curriculum
  • Connect issues in the past to current issues to make history relevant to the lives of all students
  • Include the political and social context of the community’s struggle for social justice


  • Stop your “regular” curriculum
  • Decontextualize heroes or holidays
  • Focus on superficial cultural traits based on stereotypes
  • Talk about black history (or any other heritage month) in solely “feel-good” language
  • Teach with little or inaccurate information
  • Shy away from controversial, ambiguous, or unresolved issues







About principalaim

Head of Lower School & Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Louisville Collegiate School

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This entry was posted on February 2, 2015 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .
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