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Ivy League university teaches K-12 educators how to fight ‘whiteness in schools’

Columbia University’s Teachers College held a conference earlier this month during which K-12 educators were taught how to fight “whiteness in schools.” (2014 file photo/Jason Bahr/Getty Images for Knowledge Universe)

One Ivy League university held a conference earlier this month to discuss diversity and inclusion, during which K-12 educators were taught how to combat the evils of “whiteness in schools.”

The Reimagining Education Summer Institute conference was held July 17-20 at Columbia University’s Teachers College and homed in on “opportunities and challenges of creating and sustaining racially, ethnically, and socio-economically integrated schools,” according to the event’s website.

One of the summit’s presentations, led by Dr. Ali Michael, founder of The Race Institute, was titled “Whiteness in Schools” and offered “a history of whiteness, and will invite participants into a discussion of how whiteness and white culture shapes what happens in schools.”

Columbia also offered a workshop — “3 Ways to Face White Privilege in the Classroom” — where participants were asked to “engage in activities and critical dialogue around white privilege to connect personal responsibility to pedagogical possibilities for the classroom.”

Another presentation addressed how educators should adapt their teaching styles “for social justice,” encouraging them to ditch their “colonial and racist ideologies.”

“We will challenge Eurocentric pedagogical approaches that not only under-prepare students for the realities of our increasingly multiethnic, multilingual, globalized society, but are also rooted in colonial and racist ideologies that stifle the voices, identities, and realities of students of color,” a description of the presentation states.

And, of course, the conference also addressed “microaggressions” with a workshop to help educators “identify ways in which educational systems perpetuate racial microaggressions, both within classroom practices and within the institutional climates.”

The training was intended to help teachers “recognize racial microaggressions in themselves and others,” “understand racial microaggressions’ averse impact on students of color,” and “gain accountability in taking remedial action to overcome racial biases that lead to microaggressions.”

The conference, which is in its second year, drew 300 participants, most of whom were K-12 teachers and principals, Amy Wells, the institute’s director, told The College Fix.

Wells, a professor of sociology and education at Columbia, said she is confident higher education has a wealth of information that can be used to transform the educational system but doing so requires connecting “a lot of dots” in a way that is useful to people.

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