Keep Asking Why
When you heard about the tragic murders of Asians in Atlanta, did you ask why? When you watched videos of police brutality against Black Americans, did you ask why? When you learn about the violence and oppression of marginalized people in this country, do you ask why?
Did you ask why or were you simply shocked and surprised? I hear people saying, “This is so surprising! I can’t believe it!” We need to believe it and we need to ask why. We need to educate ourselves and know our history. We need to stop being surprised and understand the systems. The reasons for something happening today are deeply connected to the past. It’s not about ‘having a bad day.’ If we don’t understand this, we can’t make a change.
What can schools do?
Schools have a duty to teach students accurate history that holds many narratives, not just the narrative of the dominant people of the region. It is crucial that students learn to think critically about examining history and current events, and to develop skills around media literacy. Groups like Facing History and Ourselves have been doing this work for decades. Using primary sources, using an inquiry-based approach, asking questions that get students to think critically are crucial aspects in building future citizens who will not be surprised by our current events but rather will be positioned to make a change that matters. Students need to keep asking why. They need to follow problems upstream and not stay stuck at the bottom of the river. Questioning is a key skill that leads to investigation, that leads to knowledge, and ultimately to change. After all, schools are not just ‘schooling’ anymore, we are collectively raising good humans.
As a South Asian immigrant, I have been asking why, reading a lot about history I never learned, and listening to voices that are not usually heard. Keep reading and keep educating ourselves about what is happening now and how it connects to our history. Keep asking why. Educating ourselves will help us understand the systemic roots that led to our current events. That is an essential path to leverage change and create a more sustainable and equitable future for our children.