Teaching the History of Chinese in America: What Can We Learn From Australia?

        When I was in grammar school in Macon, Georgia, way back in the 1940s, we were taught nothing about the history of Chinese in America. We learned a lot about the pilgrims, independence from England, the founding fathers, and the Civil War, or as it was called in the South, "The War Between the States."  We learned about the leaders of the new nation, all white men, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, to name a few.
       But, there IS an overlooked history in the school curriculum, not especially nice, about the lives and experiences of Chinese (as well as many other) immigrants and their descendants, made difficult in many ways by racial prejudices. Little, if any, recognition is given to their contributions to America. There is still too little in school curricula on this part of American history.
         I was impressed with an Australian elementary school curriculum, Walking in the footsteps of the dragon, that seems thorough and balanced in its coverage of how Chinese immigrated to Australia, the prejudices they faced in "White Australia" a century ago, and how they have achieved success in becoming a part of Australian society. A six part curriculum includes discussion of the nature of historical research and ends with a "reasoned explanation" of the past.


   It would be worthwhile to learn more about the implementation and impact of this extensive curriculum on the education of school kids in Australia.  What lessons might there be for developing better curricula on the history of Chinese, and other immigrants, in the United States?

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me