The Missouri History Museum and the St. Louis regional office of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute are collaborating on a dynamic and innovative program, Reading Bias/Writing Tolerance: Using History’s Powerful Stories. This multidimensional program developed with grant funds, meets a number of needs identified by teachers. Starting with ADL lessons as a lens, artifacts from the Museum’s collection are used as a catalyst for students to understand bias and patterns of discrimination, to learn to interpret stereotyping, to deepen their awareness of history’s dynamic role in understanding the present, and to increase their literacy skills.

What are the goals?

  • to deepen students’ understanding of history
  • to explore issues of social justice and the historical and sociological roots of bias and patterns of oppression
  • to help students develop a more personal understanding of bias and racism and the way it impacts their lives
  • to produce attitudinal changes in students that are reflected in positive behaviors
  • to strengthen literacy skills through discussion and writing activities

Shape of the program

The program’s curriculum includes:

  • Full-day teacher training—lunch included
  • Curriculum with six two-part lessons: Part one of each lesson is conducted by ADL facilitators; part two, a series of museum-based object-centered lessons, is presented by the classroom teacher
  • Two full-day museum visits: one at the beginning and one at the end

Why is your involvement so important?

Each individual does make a difference! And collectively, we can create a safer environment in which everyone is accepted and appreciated for who they are and for their unique qualities. A better understanding of history’s powerful stories and the relationship of the past to our lives today give students knowledge that will enable them to become agents of change. The skills of “close looking” and critical observation provide students with tools to examine past and present behaviors and to then become more insightful, proactive, and accepting of those who are different from them. All will benefit!

Students develop:

  • a better understanding of history and place
  • a more personal understanding of bias, bullying, and racism and the way it impacts our lives today
  • attitudinal changes that are reflected in their behaviors
  • stronger literacy skills that allow them to use the power of language to effectively express feelings and effect social change
  • a way to examine how history impacts our lives today

Teachers develop:

  • greater understanding of bias and patterns of oppression
  • an understanding of how artifacts can motivate students to think, discuss, reflect, write more effectively
  • a skill set to respond proactively to bias and discrimination
  • an understanding of how students’ writing can be positively affected through their exploration of powerful social issues

Schools develop:

  • a safer and more accepting environment
  • a pro-active stance in dealing with emerging issues of racial conflict in the school
  • a stronger language arts (reading and writing) program
  • a deeper awareness of bias problems in our communities
  • greater awareness of history’s dynamic role in understanding today

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