In an effort to teach students about the horrors of American slavery, the faculty at Whitney High School in Cerritos, California designed a unique lesson plan for a special, slave-themed class.

For this "Unique Learning Experience," the teacher dims the classroom lights, tapes the students' hands together, makes them to lie shoulder-to-shoulder on the ground and forces them to watch an episode of Roots. And while everything about that sounds like a terrible experience, I imagine it's a little easier for kids these days to process their first viewing of Roots now that Levar Burton is a bit less prominent. Because the first time I saw Roots as a kid, I was very confused about why all those white people were being so mean to the host of Reading Rainbow (and then I spent years wondering what would happen to the universe if Reading Rainbow ever did an episode on Roots).

Allegedly, this lesson had been going on at the school for a decade, and it wasn't until this year that a parent finally challenged the questionable lesson plan.

Shardé Carrington, a mother to one of the students at Whitney High School, was disgusted at the thought of her son participating in such an event. "Would you simulate rape in order to encourage sensitivity toward survivors?" asked Carrington. "Will children pretend to be in Japanese internment camps as well?"

Carrington does bring up a good point. If teachers are taping students' hands together in an attempt to teach them about slavery, what other cutesy and insensitive lesson plans will this school cook up in an attempt to recreate other historical tragedies? Will the school take away the kids' lunches for a week in order to teach them an abridged version of the Holodomor? Or will the school's PE teacher make kids walk tirelessly around the track so they get the gist of The Trail of Tears? Or will there be a special Holocaust learning exercise where all the kids wear striped pajamas and are forced to write sad journal entries in utter silence? The sky's the limit.

Obviously, it's important to teach kids about history's various atrocities, and no one knows the best way to educate children about the horrors of the world. But one thing's for certain: If Whitney High School is willing to tie up students to teach them about slavery, then their PTA charity auctions must be wildly inappropriate.

(Rick Vodicka)
(Rick Vodicka)