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January 2022

''How come there are no brothers on that list?'': Hearing the hard questions all children ask

Journal/Book: Harvard Educ Rev. 1996; 66: Harvard Educational Review, Longfellow HALL-13 Appian Way, Cambridge, MA 02138. Harvard Univ. 546-576.

Abstract: In this article, Kather Jervis explores how children's experiences of race, even in the ''best'' schools, often go unnoticed by faculty, and how students' questions about race go unaddressed. As she documented the initial year of a New York City public middle school, Jervis did not intend to focus her observations on issues of race. However, in retrospect, she found children's questions about race and ethnicity were prominent in her field notes, and educators' responses significantly absent. Jervis suggests that even in schools that seek to create diverse and integrated school communities, silence about race prevails. She argues that unless educators consciously create the safe spaces for both children and adults to explore honestly the implications of race, culture, and ethnicity, discussions of race that might be opened by children's seemingly inconsequential questions are not pursued. Jervis concludes that, although discussions about race are difficult, educators - especially White educators - need to focus attention on race and racism if children's questions about discrimination and equity are ever to be part of school discourse.

Note: Article K Jervis, Columbia Univ, Coll Teachers, Natl Ctr Restructuring Educ, Sch Teaching, New York, NY 10027 USA

Keyword(s): DIALOG


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