How Teachers Learn to Discuss Racism

In the fall of 2016, H. Richard Milner, a professor of urban education at the University of Pittsburgh, surveyed 450 pre-service and current public-school teachers on their beliefs about race, and whether or not it has a place being discussed in the classroom. Despite the small sample size, preliminary findings from the nationally representative group revealed that teachers overwhelmingly agreed that race should be discussed in the classroom. But, startlingly, the same teachers agreed they felt “woefully unprepared” to lead such a conversation, let alone discuss things like violence against black people. In a profession that is characteristically white, female, and middle class–and with students of color and children living in poverty beginning to make up the majority of public-school populations–it has become necessary to have teachers that are both equipped and willing to talk about race and racism. While these topics can be difficult and at times awkward to broach in a classroom setting, multiple research findings point to the need to confront this discomfort in order to help improve student learning. There is a growing need to train incoming teachers, and retrain current teachers, on how to handle discussions involving race. With ever-changing demographics, this will only become more of an issue facing teachers, who need to find better, more effective ways to relate to their students, and help their students relate to one another. By doing this, teachers will create a more effective and lasting learning environment. Read the full Atlantic article Here