by Nicola I. Campbell
USE: Shin-chi’s Canoe is great book for introducing one of the injustices among the history of Native American to students. By using this book as an opening hook to a Unit study of Native American, children will gain an access to the study of Native American through a very different perspective. In this book, there is a page of historical information about Indian residential schools from the author. It could help students better understand the historical background at that time. Shin-chi’s Canoe can also be integrated into unit study of other similar social injustice happen in our history, such as Japanese American Interment. Shin-chi’s Canoe not only introduces the social injustice that Native Americans encountered at that historical moment, or describe how it affected people’s lives, such as Shi-chi and his family, but most importantly it also teaches children to take actions like Shi-chi and his sister to against such social injustice by remembering and valuing their own culture. Teacher should encourage students to connect Shin-chi’s experience with their own experience to examine how our society/lives are different or similar to Shin-chi’s.
Stages of Social Justice Education:
Self love & acceptance: Students can talk about their own cultures in comparison with Shin-chi’s culture. It is important to have students recognize that we all come from different culture and background. Our cultures teach us many important values, and shape who we are today.
Respect for others: Have students create a class book to include every student’s cultural and family background, and Shin-chi’s as well. Students should discover that differences are what make our world better.
Exploring issues of social justice: Through Shin-chi’s experience in the book and other historical documents, encourage students to talk about the social injustice behind Shin-chi’s story. Why did Shin-chi have to go to residential school at that time? Why do we think that shin-chi should not go to residential school? Connecting Shin-chi’s story with students’ real lives by exploring issues that they think are injustice in our society.
Social Movements and Social Change: Encourage students to think what kind of action Shin-chi took to against such injustice in the story. Also have students discuss what kind of actions they could come up to against social injustice in their lives.
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