Saturday, January 23, 2021

Letters

Lessons Require Struggle

I am writing to support Dr. Paul Freeman, Superintendent of Schools for Guilford I have been impressed with his leadership.

My first interaction with Dr. Freeman was during the campaign to expand kindergarten to full day. I saw his thoughtful consideration of research on education. He used this research to design a full day schedule that was developmentally appropriate.

More recently during the planning process for returning to school during the pandemic, Dr. Freeman created a thorough procedure based on evidence and in consultation with epidemiologists and public health experts.

Again, when he considered how to help students better understand the relationships between White people, those of Native American descent, and people of color, Dr. Freeman did his research and looked to experts. He was inspired by Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries thoughts on “hard history.” Our curriculum already emphasized critical thinking skills. The students are already used to asking hard questions and perhaps questioning their own beliefs.

The adults all learned about the Native Americans and the Pilgrims at Thanksgiving as a static vignette, as if Native Americans no longer existed. My experience with Black History Month in the shortest month of the year included stories of a few exceptional historical figures. It was as if the Black rights movement had ended and racism had been solved. Instead, we continue to see violent, racist, and fear-based behavior in our town and our country. Our past methods have marginalized others. It’s time to try a new method.

Dr. Freeman has modeled inquiry based learning in his leadership role. I fully support Dr. Freeman’s decision to consider hard history in the Guilford Public Schools. Some of the best lessons we learn in life require struggle.

Tina Fiasconaro
Guilford