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ERIC Number: EJ856339
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Aug
Pages: 16
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 25
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
Making Sense of "Race" in the History Classroom: A Literary Approach
Cruz, Barbara C.; Duplass, James A.
History Teacher, v42 n4 p425-440 Aug 2009
Most students today are not able to distinguish between the notion of "race" as a social construct and the pernicious, false belief that "race" is a biological reality. The American Anthropological Association has adopted a policy that the word "race" should always be put in quotation marks because, as a social and not biological construct, there is no definitive, legitimate way to define it. This is not to mean that the concept has been eliminated--to be sure, it is still useful in interpreting and analyzing a number of phenomena and events, but teachers continue to struggle with ways of helping students make sense of the term. American middle and high school students, in spite of living in one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, typically know little of the origins of the concept and may have had few opportunities to reflect on how it has shaped history and its consequences. Clearly, teachers need to engage students in frank discussions about "race" and explore the notion from several different vantage points. In this article, the authors seek to describe one interdisciplinary strategy that can help students explore "race" and racism, while developing an understanding of the origins of the concepts. They provide some background information for teachers that can be incorporated into an orienting lecture for students and present a strategy using literature that will afford students the opportunity to reflect on the social and ethical considerations involved in issues of race. (Contains 2 figures.)
Society for History Education. California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90840-1601. Tel: 562-985-2573; Fax: 562-985-5431; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Louisiana