Education and Race

STEM Brief Steers Teachers on Confronting Racism in Science Teaching

A new STEM teaching brief offers guidance on dismantling institutional and system racism in the K-12 science classroom. Published by the Institute for Science + Math Education at the University of Washington College of Education, the short report pointed out that teachers play a big role in changing the "racist legacies of STEM and schooling," through a combination of "examining [their] own prejudices" and embedding racial justice into their instructional practices.

Contrary to what we might think, the authors noted, science isn't the "objective and neutral" discipline we might consider it to be. "Science is a subjective human endeavor shaped by issues of power and oppression," the brief stated. For example, the idea that individuals are responsible for leaps in scientific accomplishment ignores the more common atmosphere of "community-based endeavor" and integration of "past and present" that generates knowledge for many communities of color.

Along with links to additional resources, the brief offered three recommendations for educators:

  • To identify partners to support them as they do self-reflection and learn about racial justice;

  • To discuss race, racism, anti-Blackness and other issues of oppression "with everyone you can, in all contexts"; and

  • To examine their science learning activities in light of how how those might "reflect specific value systems, potential identities and possible futures."

The brief is openly available on the STEM Teaching Tools website run by the Institute.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.