Seeing Injustice Through the Eyes of Children

Posted on February 14th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

No one points out injustice quite like a child does. And no one gives us more hope than our children do.

Beginning with their preparations for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and their annual Kindergarten Breakfast, Allendale Columbia Kindergarten students learned about the life and legacy of Dr. King and the outstanding contributions of African American authors, artists, statesman, and scientists.

But while their research told them about these great people in our history and of today, the most difficult questions began with “why.”

“We started out this Martin Luther King unit because we had the day off, and the kids were, like, who is this person? Why do we have a day off for this person?” related Kindergarten teacher, Barbie King. “We find that it’s very important to teach about Martin Luther King to the children. We do it by reading various stories about him and his life.”

“And then,” she continued, “all of a sudden, after you get through a few of these stories, the kids get an ‘a-ha moment.’ Why couldn’t the same people drink at the same water fountains even though their color of skin was a different color than ours, or they couldn’t go to the same school, and they didn’t understand why. And after reading stories over and over and over again about Martin Luther King and Ruby Bridges and Rosa Parks and others, they were, like, it seems so unfair.”

Kindergarten students worked on a number of different projects and showed their learnings to their parents during Kindergarten Breakfast, including drawing a long bus to show where Rosa Parks sat, making a march of small cut-out people with protest signs like, “We Shall Live in Peace” and “Peace, Love, and Equality.” They wrote profiles of African American STEM Leaders and something they learned about Ruby Bridges as the first African American to integrate schools in the South.

They learned Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and each drew about a dream to make the world a better place (for example, water for everyone to drink). “I like Martin Luther King because he changed the world for us, and the world wouldn’t be better if he wasn’t ever alive,” Kindergarten student Tre remarked.

“One of the things they noticed, especially about Ruby Bridges,” Ms. King said, “was that all of the white kids left, and then they were like, well at our school, we have different African American kids here. They wouldn’t have been at school with us if this law hadn’t been changed.”

Ms. King concluded, “The importance of teaching this at such an early age is the hope that the kids will realize that all kids are fair and equal, and that they will bring that through the rest of their lives, and not single a person out because of the color of their skin or a difference that they have, that we’re all created equal, and everyone should have equal opportunities.”

Kristin Cocquyt

John Palomaki

John is a parent of twin boys in Middle School at AC, an active volunteer, and occasional contributor of stories and photos. John spent a stimulating 10 years at Microsoft through the 90s as a systems engineer and managing executive relations programs. Since then, John has worked with non-profit organizations and has held leadership roles in independent schools in New Jersey and Connecticut in development, communications, and technology. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Natural Sciences (Biology) from Colgate University.
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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School

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