Expanding Perspectives in 11th Grade English

At Bosque School, our teachers design learning experiences that inspire our students to explore challenging concepts and ideas and to be daring in their pursuit of deep understanding. One approach to this is bringing in multiple voices and perspectives into the classroom—through books, podcasts, videos, guest speakers, etc. 
Juniors in humanities began the school year by reading Americanah by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This story centers around a young Nigerian woman who immigrates to the United States to attend university. Humanities teacher Ms. Doss was interested in discussing the immigrant experience and exploring identity formation—the theme for her 11th-grade class. Wanting to include multiple voices in her classroom, Ms. Doss invited Dr. Kee Straits, Bosque School’s director of Equity, Community, and Culture, into her classroom to co-teach, expand on different perspectives, and collaborate in a class discussion about Americanah
Dr. Straits was excited to join the class and talk about the book—viewing it as the perfect opportunity to dive into Ogbu’s theories about voluntary and involuntary minorities. This theory explores the difference in school performance between minority and dominant-group students. She enjoyed listening to the students’ responses and questions. “I think students had some of the strongest reactions to my trying to connect them viscerally to the experience of involuntary minorities who have a multigenerational experience of colonization, enslavement and oppression that then shapes present-day experiences of education,” Dr. Straits said.
Reflecting on the class discussions, Dr. Straits noted, “I really appreciated the openness, trust and opportunity to collaborate.” She added, “I think bringing in this kind of content and conversation with students is critical to having a curriculum that is more nuanced in its inclusion of cultures and consideration of power dynamics experienced by different minority groups.” 
Throughout this semester, Ms. Doss’ 11th-grade class will continue to explore the themes of identity and identity formation. She’s excited to bring in more guest speakers to continue sharing multiple perspectives.