“Omitted”: Whitman Teaches the Movement holds talk on gaps in K-12 curriculum of Black history

Emma Fletcher-Frazer, News Editor

Whitman Teaches the Movement will hold their first event of the semester, “Omitted: A look at the Hard History that we weren’t taught in school, and why that matters,” over Zoom on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 4 p.m. 

The event will “discuss the impacts of gaps in our K-12 history curriculum regarding Black history in the U.S.,” according to an email sent by Whitman Teaches the Movement program leaders Kaitlynne Jensen and Cormac Li to the Whitman community.

Jensen came up with the idea for the event after attending a talk in February during Whitman’s inaugural Sex Week. Associate Professor of Politics Susanne Beechey led the talk, discussing the gaps in sex education in the U.S.

Jensen took the idea of gaps in curricular knowledge and applied it to the Whitman Teaches the Movement program.

“Our program teaches volunteers to go into classrooms and start to try to fill in gaps in our curriculum surrounding civil rights, identity, immigration, and different things like that, so we realized already that there were these gaps,” Jensen said. “So we wanted to take a minute to sit down and have a productive conversation about what gaps exactly there are and why these gaps matter and what the implications are and what sort of long-term effects that they have.”

The panelists for the talk include Kate Shuster, an independent education consultant, Whitman College Associate Professor of History Nina Lerman and Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries from Ohio State University. Jeffries gave a talk at Whitman in Dec. 2019 on “hard history,” entitled “1619, An American Journey: 400 Years of Triumph and Tragedy.”

Jensen has asked community members to fill out a Google Form prior to the talk, reflecting on Black history that was omitted from their education. She hopes that the discussion will prompt deeper questions on the gaps within the K-12 curriculum in the U.S.

“A lot of people are going to find gaps in their education that they didn’t even know that they had before, so I really want these conversations to be started,” Jensen said. “Like, why do we have these gaps; why aren’t we learning about this? I’m hopeful that they will take this new information and go and learn about it themselves and talk to other people about it.”