Taking an antiracist stance in the classroom

December 5, 2019
Teacher Brendon Jobs in the classroom with two high-school aged students.

Growing up in New Jersey, Brendon Jobs rarely heard race discussed in school. When it was, black people were almost always secondary, faceless characters in American history. 

When he became a teacher, Jobs writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer, he wanted to give students a broader perspective. He taught events like the 1965 protest by black students in Philadelphia demanding black history be included in their curriculum.

“After hearing these stories, my students had so many questions: Why didn’t we learn this before?” Jobs asks. “Why does it matter whether I use enslaved instead of slave when talking about transatlantic slavery? If the Great Migration was a flee from the terrorism of Southern lynchings, why isn’t it called the ‘Great Escape’? Perhaps, my role is helping students refine their questions to affirm their own sense of empowerment.” 

Jobs is the director of diversity and inclusion at the Haverford School and teaches social studies methods in Penn GSE’s Independent School Teaching Residency Program. The program, part of Penn GSE’s Collaboratory for Teacher Education, enables aspiring and early career teachers to receive a master’s degree in education while completing an intensive teaching fellowship at a host partner school.

In his op-ed, Jobs, also a Penn GSE graduate, described how historian Ibram X. Kendi’s breakthrough 2019 book How to Be an Antiracist was a revelation for him.

“I now feel that I, as a black person, should do more to disrupt oppression, including racism among white people and communities of color,” Jobs writes. “Antiracist educators of all backgrounds have a collective obligation to confront ideas and policies that harm kids in communities we nurture.”

Read Jobs’s full piece here.

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