Jah-Yee Woo has been named Alameda County’s Teacher of the Year. Woo is an English and History teacher at Oakland Technical High School, and is a member of a team of educators who co-created and piloted curriculum about the Chinese Exclusion Act, based around the CAAM co-produced documentary for PBS, The Chinese Exclusion Act (directed by Ric Burns and Li-Shin Yu of Steeplechase Films). Below, Woo shares more about the impact and importance of the curriculum, which CAAM is raising funds to share more widely on the PBS Learning Media platform.
Last year, I had the opportunity to collaborate with a group of inspiring, committed Oakland public school teachers, the UC Berkeley History-Social Science Project, and CAAM on a curriculum to accompany the ground-breaking documentary on the Chinese Exclusion Act. It was a chance to delve deeply into a piece of legislation that has had tremendous impact on our nation, yet often only gets a brief mention in our history textbooks.
The documentary provides a complex narrative of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the curriculum aims to help students understand these complexities through the historical thinkings skills of continuity and change, multiple perspectives, and argumentation.
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Yesterday marked the anniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Some students in Oakland learned about the history of the act this past week. Look for our curriculum about the Chinese Exclusion Act using #TheChineseExclusionActPBS documentary next year. . . . . #documentary #film #television #tv #movies #filmmaker #publicmedia #asianamerican #photooftheday #documentaryfilm #education #curriculum #nonprofit #school #chineseexclusionact #aapi #apa #diversity #mixedrace #learn #learning #history #pochistory #representation #pocstories #storytelling
One of the lessons helps students examine the narratives we tell about the United States as a nation of immigrants. From multiple perspectives, students look at various immigration policies, and as a result, must grapple with the question of how inclusive and exclusionary these policies have been over time. Students shared how much they learned from this lesson and that they appreciated being able to draw parallels between past exclusion policies with contemporary attempts to limit immigration.
Another lesson asked students to consider the different ways that Chinese and Chinese American people resisted the Chinese Exclusion Act using the judicial system and organized acts of civil disobedience. Students learned that both tactics of resistance were important to fighting injustice, which is an enduring understanding that I hope they carry with them beyond the classroom.
It gave me an opportunity to teach immigration history to my students, in ways that allowed them to see the complexities and the narratives of their own experiences with immigration in the curriculum. The curriculum is important, for it gives students an opportunity to grapple with their own experiences and stories within the larger narratives of immigration of this country.
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