The Caesar Rodney School District is investigating a Black History Month lesson that some parents are calling “culturally insensitive, offensive” and “disturbing.”
The prerecorded hybrid lesson was taught at the McIlvaine Early Childhood Center. A short clip shared by a parent on Facebook shows part of the 35-minute class, where a teacher combines yoga poses with her version of how Africans were enslaved and brought to America.
“African people came to America on boats to become slaves,” the teacher says in the video. “So here’s the great big country of Africa. They crossed the Atlantic to come over to America. So right now, I need you to get into your boat pose,” she says, demonstrating the yoga pose.
“Came? We were stolen,” the mother recording the video is heard saying.
The video goes on to describe the lives of enslaved people in America.
“Africans were treated very poorly, even though they farmed the land and plowed the fields to make America beautiful and help grow our food,” the teacher continues. “They worked in the fields all day. If you’re at home, you can try the plow pose.”
She then leads the kindergarten students through breathing exercises as they hold the yoga pose.
The video cuts off as the teacher transitions to talking about famous African Americans through history.
Widely shared on Facebook, the video out of Caesar Rodney School District has sparked anger from parents and community members.
“I’m totally speechless,” one person wrote.
“This can’t be real,” another wrote.
“It’s 2021, you’d think this stuff would have ended a long time ago,” Caesar Rodney parent Jessie Welch said. “But it hasn’t because of ignorance. And this is an educator who’s supposed to be teaching our kids.”
The district is investigating the lesson, and said it is “unacceptable and not consistent with Caesar Rodney School District values.”
Teachers struggling to cover – and sometimes avoiding entirely – the realities and horrors of slavery in an age-appropriate way is not new and is only recently being more widely challenged by parents and students.