By Donovan Pelton and Kazuma Posley
Yumi Ando, an east-Asian studies major, stated many of the “East Asian studies books I read were still mostly written by American authors. We did not read very many native texts.“ Even the novels considered as “classics”, such as “1984”, “Fahrenheit 451”, “Nickel and Dimed”, “Great Gatsby”, even the “Iliad”, are all written by white authors, highlighting American classrooms’ literature education stagnation.
Summit Denali AP U.S. History teacher Peter Alexeeff-Torres described how he and many students could not relate to the literature that was being taught. Denali AP English Language teacher Nicole Soriano believes students should be discussing these deeper topics much earlier in their education: “We don’t ask little kids why the caterpillar is hungry,” she said.
Another reason students should be reading more diverse texts is what students can learn and how it can improve society. Learning about other cultures could have positive effects on the relationships we have with others. Learning from other perspectives teaches students how people can see things in a different light.
Ms. Soriano recommends adding books such as “Americanah”, a book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about a Nigerian woman immigrating to America to attend university, or “Between the World and Me”, a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates about what it means to be Black in the U.S. These texts offer new perspectives about the world American students live in that they can learn from.
Yumi Ando was educated in many different places around the world. She noticed there is no true history–there are different perspectives for the same event. Students need to realize this for all aspects of any sort of education. There is very rarely a single correct retelling, and reading about different perspectives can open one’s eyes to see how other people from different cultures can live in the same place at the same time, yet have different stories to tell; all of these stories are important.
Mr. Torres also pointed out the racism that existed during slavery is reflected in the Anglo-Centric education in America and the lack of diversity in the literature we are taught. This lack of change in education, according to Ms. Soriano, shows a lack of change in this country as a whole.
Featured image at the top of the page:
Stacks of books commonly taught in American classrooms. PHOTO CREDIT: Homeschool Creations