We Read about Brave Women

By Kristin Sanderson

Miquon staff are always working to bring the value of the counterstory, or a story that presents experiences beyond the dominant narrative, to the classroom.

This practice is something we do well at Miquon, as with the Nursery’s recent study of women aviators, which included Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and her Flying Machine — the tale of the first woman to fly from Chicago to New York, despite the critics who thought should could not — and Nobody Owns the Sky: The Story of Brave Bessie Coleman, the first licensed African-American aviator. Teachers helped children think through what it might be like to be the first person to do something that no one has done before — even in the face of doubt, based on factors like gender and the color of one’s skin. Through this practice, Miquon children gain the understanding that it is not only okay, but beneficial, to stand up for something they believe in.

In the older grades, the counterstory comes out when students grapple with what it might be like to be a child in a region different from our own. Recently, for instance, third and fourth graders learned more about the refugee experience, reading books like The Sky of Afganistan and The Lost Boys of Sudan. They wondered, “How are their lives different from ours and what can we find that is similar? What are their hopes and dreams? What do they wish for?”

Through conversation and thinking about experiences of other children, we are also providing a counter-narrative. Moreover, we hope to give students the opportunity to see connections with others whose experiences may differ from our own.

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