Let's Decorate Our Class for Black History Month
Updated: Jun 9
How are you going to decorate your background in February next year? Let's not forget to include some Black History Month images in our celebrations of other popular February "holidays" like Valentine's Day, or President's Day. I think it's important to keep the decorations educational and non-political or distracting. I feel it is an important part of American history that may often be misinterpreted as controversial or "sensitive", when really, it is meant to be inclusive.
Last year Chinese New Year fell right in the middle of February 5th-19th, so there was little time to redecorate the classroom for anything other than CNY. 2020 year of the Rat begins on Jan 25th and ends with the Lantern Festival on Feb 8th. This leaves plenty of time for some Black History Month to fill the gap.
During the year as all the various holidays roll by, VipKid teachers celebrated Chinese holidays that most of us had never heard of before. Teachers tried moon cake for the very first time and our Chinese families followed suit by dressing up for Halloween. Teachers were excited to decorate for all the traditional holidays, just like in a traditional brick and mortar schools.
St Patrick's, Easter, July 4th, Labor Day, Columbus day, the changing of the seasons, Thanksgiving, of course Christmas (huge hit in China) were all celebrated on the classroom walls of VipKid teachers, some special occasions were even accompanied by special contests or events from Vipkid corporate. It was all very fun.
I am not suggesting that this will explain black history. I am merely decorating my background with icons from black history. If a child asks about them I tell them the name and I will explain what why they are famous. For example if they asked about Muhammed Ali, I would tell them that he was a famous boxer, Olympic champion, simple facts. Other than that I let the parents do any explaining to their child that needs to be done.
This is simply educational. We’re merely decorating our classroom. We are not making demands nor are we marching for change.
I have seen evidence that VipKid embraces diversity. Many of their slides portray people of color. Many of their characters are people of color. There are lessons about Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr. I think it’s safe to say that as a company, Vipkid promotes an image of diversity.
The hard part is choosing people whom the parents of our students, if not the students themselves might be familiar with.
I have worked with a Chinese friend who asked many people on Weibo about who they respect and admire. This list is not meant to be all inclusive but are simply some suggestions.
Michael Jackson, Nat King Cole, Morgan Freeman, Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé, Will Smith, Serena Williams & Venus Williams, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, Stephon Marbary, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. Nelson Mandela is another, though technically not American he was given full states honor when he passed away and is undoubtedly a citizen of the world.