A teacher at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church and School near Milwaukee, Wisconson has sparked controversy over a homework assignment that was given to a fourth grade social studies class. According to Buzzfeed News, Graduate student Tamika Brown-Berry tweeted her outrage about the assignment which asked students to find and explain 3 ‘good’ reasons for slavery and 3 bad reasons for slavery.
Many of the students expressed displeasure for the assignment, including one student that said that he did not answer the question because he did not believe there were any good reasons for slavery. According to the school, which issued an apology, the question was poorly worded and was not intended to encourage students to argue that slavery was acceptable.
Tramika Brown-Berry said she was able to receive a satisfactory response to the school in the form of apologies to both the students and their parents, removing the assignment from the curriculum, informing parents of sensitive topics discussed in the classroom, and sensitivity training.
While the school is not unique for making headlines because of assignments about slavery and other touchy subjects that are at best culturally insensitive and at worst outright racist, it is clear that this school has done a great job of handling the problem. Slavery is a difficult subject to broach with young children, and while it is important for children to be able to understand how and why this dark era occurred, it is also important to handle it in a way that will not make anyone feel less than or othered.