Northern Complicity in Slavery & Racial Identity Development:
How to Teach Our Complex History
A Workshop for Rhode Island Middle and High School Educators
Founded in 2009, the Tracing Center on Histories and Legacies of Slavery builds on the work of Ebb Pod Productions, which produced the award-winning documentary film, Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North. This fall the Tracing Center presents a series of special workshops for Rhode Island educators on the role of the North in slavery. Aligned with the state’s Civic Standards, the workshops’ content knowledge about Rhode Island’s, and the region’s, complicity in slavery and the slave trade, as well as tools for how to effectively and sensitively teach the subject matter to students of all backgrounds. The teaching of slavery is an opportunity to work with all students in their racial identity formation, their race relations in schools & neighborhoods, and their leadership/civic skills development.
Participants will leave the workshop with new resources in two areas:
1) New historical content:
- Distilled historical information, reflecting the latest humanities scholarship, on the history of slavery and the slave trade in the North in general and Rhode Island in particular. This will be relevant for the teaching of: the colonial and early American economy, slavery, the Industrial Revolution, and the Civil War.
- Teacher-tested lessons plans, developed by educators who attended Rhode Island Historical Society’s NEH 2009 Summer Teacher Institute, providing educators with enhanced instructional practices. These lessons are based on archival documents and address several of the GSEs on Historical Perspective.
- Information on local historic sites and archival resources available to enhance teaching.
2) New pedagogical strategies that will help students:
- Avoid unproductive shame associated with being connected with ‘victim group’ or ‘perpetrator group,’ while still giving room for natural emotions that arise when learning the history of slavery.
- Understand the bravery and brilliance that it took for people of African descent to survive slavery and its aftermath.
- Understand the ordinary human motivations that made the system of slavery possible and thus grapple with “good and evil” in nuanced and important ways for their development as citizens.
- Make connections to their family/group history in cases where the connections seems remote (e.g. more recent immigrants).
- Make connections from past to present in order to understand the relevance of this history for race relations today.
The workshops are conveniently located in three counties to make them more accessible to all Rhode Island teachers. All workshops will cover the same content information, but include a visit to a different local historic site (except Kent County workshop, which will be supplemented with the presentation of additional primary sources). Attendees can earn Professional Development Credits through the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The workshops align with the following GSEs for the teaching of Civics/Government and Historical Perspectives/Rhode Island History: C&G 2 (9-12) 2.c; C&G 5 (7-8) 2.b; C&G 5 (7-8) 1.a; HP 1 (7-8) 1.b; HP 1 (9-12) 1.a, 1.b, 1.c; HP 2 (7-8) 1.c; HP 2 (7-8) 2.b; and HP 3 (7-8) 2.b.
The workshops are offered free of charge, lunch included. You may attend the one in your county, or choose one in another region to explore new resources.
Fall 2010 Rhode Island Teacher Workshops:
October 23: North Kingstown Free Library/Smith’s Castle, N. Kingstown, 9:30am-4:30pm
November 6: Aldrich House/Brown House, RI Historical Society, Providence, 9:30am-4:30pm
November 13: Rogers Free Library and Linden Place, Bristol, 9:30am-4:30pm
(Bristol County, Massachusetts educators are welcome to join the November 13th workshop in Bristol, R.I.)
(Please note the new date for the Bristol workshop.)