Early childhood can be a time of rich discovery, a period when educators have an opportunity to harness their students’ fascination to create unique learning opportunities. Some teachers engage with their students’ ideas in ways that make learning collaborative—but not all students have access to these kinds of learning environments.
In “Segregation by Experience,” the authors filmed and studied a a first-grade classroom led by a Black immigrant teacher who encouraged her diverse group of students to exercise their agency. When the researchers showed the film to other schools, everyone struggled. Educators admired the teacher but didn’t think her practices would work with their own Black and brown students. Parents of color—many of them immigrants—liked many of the practices, but worried that they would compromise their children. And the young children who viewed the film thought that the kids in the film were terrible, loud, and badly behaved; they told the authors that learning was supposed to be quiet, still, and obedient. In “Segregation by Experience,” Jennifer Keys Adair and Kiyomi Sánchez-Suzuki Colegrove show us just how much our expectations of children of color affect what and how they learn at school, and they ask us to consider which children get to have sophisticated, dynamic learning experiences at school and which children are denied such experiences because of our continued racist assumptions about them.
Author: Jennifer Keys Adair and Kiyomi Sánchez-Suzuki Colegrove