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Friday, June 9 • 5:20pm - 5:30pm
Reimagining Education: A Curriculum on Early Black Boston

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The EBBDA is a digital project that works to “highlight the various movements, locations, art, and rhetoric of Black figures and coalitions pre-twentieth-century that shaped Boston's history, and thusly, its present” (EBBDA). As project manager for the EBBDA, I created, revised, and edited an eight-unit curriculum about Early Black Boston for the public that builds on the work of scholars like Tara J. Yosso and Kabria Baumgartner. These units revolve around themes of social justice and empowerment, including the following: Historical Context, Space, Place, and Maps Lost Narratives Uplifting the Race Enslavement in Boston Boston History & its Contemporary Manifestations Engagement with Primary Sources, Data, and Tables and Working with digital tools. Throughout the process of cultivating this curriculum, I sought to investigate: How can we use digital technologies to tell more diverse narratives of Boston? How do we empower communities of color? How can we work to change the curriculum of BPS?

I worked with three Boston Public School (BPS) teachers to beta-test the material's usability in the classroom in advance of its initial pilot. Testing the curriculum in the classroom gave us the opportunity to adjust it to the needs of the students and the experience of the educator. More specifically, in consultation with Angela Hedley-Mitchell (Program Director of History/Social Studies for BPS) and Dr. Nicole Aljoe (Professor of English/Africana Studies at Northeastern University and EBBDA director), we learned more about how we can improve these tools and integrate this material in a classroom.

I draw on the accessible affordances of digital tools and technologies to diversify the curriculum of history in BPS. The framework for this curriculum is largely drawn upon Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom' where they ground teaching in social justice and collective liberation. This curriculum has many points of entry, which gives students the opportunity to engage with different skills like public speaking, research, and creative work. I hoped that this model would convey students’ autonomy, comfort, and accessibility in the space they assume in the classroom.

This curriculum celebrates the cultural wealth of communities like Roxbury by highlighting connections between early and contemporary Brown and Black narratives. By adopting the high school curriculum to reflect the histories of Black revolutionaries, we are giving students the tools to see themselves within these spaces as the city contains legacies of their own histories. Because I also grew up in Boston, it is important for me to empower my own community. The basis for my pedagogy is modeled on compassion, collaboration, social justice, vulnerability, and cross-disciplinary conversations.

Lastly, this curriculum seeks to contribute to remixing the archives and give space to marginalized stories often untold. By embracing an experiential mindset rooted in social justice, I recognized that community-engaged teaching supported my goal of bridging the gap between academia and community. This opportunity allowed me to root “education (in) the practice of freedom” (hooks).

avatar for Savita Maharaj

Savita Maharaj

Brandeis University

Nicole Aljoe

Northeastern University

Friday June 9, 2023 5:20pm - 5:30pm EDT
PS 405 (Design Center)