students showing website

In 阿曼达 Jones' ninth-grade history class, students were learning about Chinese history. Upon sharing the website Asia for Educators from Columbia University, students were dismayed to read the language used, in particular regarding significant impacts of the Song Dynasty.

“I hadn’t looked closely at the main page for a while,” explains Jones.  “I had it up in class as we were getting started, and the students started reading it. They realized that the writing describing people in China was, 在最好的情况下, 措辞不当, but at worst sounded like it was grounded in stereotypes. I thought the students had a good and important point, so I found the email address for the website director and shared the students’ concerns.”

The students wrote directly to the website creators and were able to get the culturally insensitive language changed. “特别, we highlighted the need to rephrase the section that discussed Chinese dietary habits during the Song Dynasty,” explains Aditya S.  “The original content perpetuated stereotypes by associating rice and tea exclusively with Chinese identity, which we felt needed correction. Our revised version aimed to present a more accurate and nuanced portrayal of historical dietary practices.”

The suggested content from the students was approved and now the website more accurately portrays the people during that period of time. “Education is a powerful tool, and we believe in the importance of accurate and culturally sensitive learning materials,阿迪亚说. “Our history teacher, 阿曼达, taught us the saying, ‘Who lives on tells your story,’ showing how our understanding of history is based on the accounts of those who had wealth and power, like European Colonialists in the New World and how many accounts of indigenous peoples are not commonly brought to attention.” 

To see the student’s impact, visit the reworded 网站.

“It is incredibly empowering to see that our voices, 作为学生, were heard and resulted in tangible changes to the educational materials,” shares Aditya.