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Interesting Find in the NEA Collection: Roots of America

Schools have always been a crucial building block of what makes America. It is a place where our young people can learn our common history, our civic laws, and the common ideals that continue to shape our nation. It's also a place to recognize that those 'commonalities' may simply be taken from the majority. Learning about this country should mean learning about the mosaic that makes it up so we can better understand those ideals we share.

As an advocate for teachers and for social justice, the National Education Association (NEA) proactively sought to address it more than 40 years ago. It published Roots of America: a multiethnic curriculum resource guide for 7th, 8th, and 9th grade social studies teachers. This report sought specifically to address the myth of the melting pot-that America is one monoculture to which everyone contributes equally. As one Black educator noted, while some groups may melt into the pot, it ' has never been hot enough to melt the Black man.' The report acknowledges that the experiences of an Italian-American, a Black-American, and a Native American are not the same. Devoting a chapter to eight ethnic groups, the book provides a summary of how members of that group may have experienced American history, ideas for lessons, and a bibliography.

If you would like to take a look at Roots of America or learn more about how the NEA worked towards inclusion, contact Vakil Smallen, the NEA Archivist at Gelman Library at smallen@gwu.edu.

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