SC School District: Slave Journal Was ‘Insensitive’ Student Assignment For Third Graders
Catch 22 situation.
A Midlands woman is calling for an investigation of South Carolina teaching standards after students were given an assignment to pretend to be slaves. Now the school district is admitting the project was “insensitive.”
A class of third graders at Killian Elementary School was given a five-page handout during the last week of February. The front of it said, “My Life as a Slave.” Qwayla Deter thinks the assignment is insensitive, and she’s calling for a deeper look into the state’s curriculum.
Deter was outraged after her 9-year-old nephew brought home a diary requiring him to imagine his life as a slave.
“It made me upset, mainly because I feel like it’s offensive, like it’s disrespectful, and it’s very insensitive to the culture and everything that slaves had to go through,” Deter said.
The handout asks students, from a first-person point-of-view, what it felt like to be kidnapped from West Africa, ride a slave ship and what it’s like being sold at an auction.
“As an 8-year-old mentally, you are not able to internalize the information that is being given. You can’t make a connection with this. I don’t think it’s educational. I don’t think it’s informative. If anything, it’s just re-enslaving children,” Deter said.
It also asks students to draw a picture of a slave ship, plantation and to complete a diagram comparing a slave’s life to their lives.
“If you only highlight the negative, then children will only remember the negative. I feel like it’s one-sided and biased,” Deter continued.
Richland County School District Two officials said the assignment was in line with the state’s third-grade social studies standards, which require students to learn how Africans help develop the culture and economy of South Carolina. More