Inclusion and Representation in BrainPOP Content

Posted by jglassman on

We believe it’s important to conduct regular critical analyses of our content to ensure representation and inclusion. An inclusive curriculum prepares students to be participants in a vibrant and diverse democracy by exposing them to a wide range of viewpoints, cultures, and identities. It helps cultivate values like open-mindedness, empathy, and cultural sensitivity. 

As educators, we have an ethical responsibility to present topics accurately. In history topics, especially, this means including new information and perspectives that standard narratives previously ignored due to bias. 

We’ve increasingly prioritized new topics and revisions that highlight diverse cultures and perspectives, and incorporate new scholarship. We’ve also expanded our cast of characters. Tim, Annie, and Ben now share the stage with three additional girls of various backgrounds: Nat, Cassie, and Rita.

Here are some recent and upcoming topics we’re excited about:

 

NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE

    • Thanksgiving on BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr.: The meeting between the Wampanoag nation and the settlers of Plymouth, deconstructing some common myths about Thanksgiving. Developed with scholars and members of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.
    • California Missions (Coming soon): The story of the Spanish colonization of California and the subjugation of the Native peoples there. 
    • American Indians (Coming soon): An updated introduction and overview of Native peoples in what is now the U.S. 
    • Reservations (Coming soon): An introduction to concepts of tribal sovereignty and treaty rights, which have shaped the relations between Native nations and the U.S. government from 1600 to today.  
    • Powwows (Coming soon): The origins and traditions of the pan-Native celebration, and its role in Native life today. 
    • Pocahontas (Coming soon): An updated look at one of our country’s best-known—and most-mythologized—Native American women. 

We’ve been working with a Native Studies advisor, Kerri J. Malloy (Yurok/Karuk Tribes), a lecturer in the Department of Native American Studies at Humboldt State University. He is helping us revise and expand our Native-American content, as well as matching us with experts and scholars from specific nations and tribes to help with topics that touch their stories. 

We’re also incorporating Indigenous perspectives into U.S. history topics, particularly in the colonial and early American period. New and upcoming topics include Regions of the Thirteen Colonies, Jamestown, Bacon’s Rebellion, and Building the 13 Colonies. Additional planned updates include: Lewis and Clark, Seminole Wars, and French and Indian War.

 

AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY

  • Voting Rights (Coming soon): The story of voting in America, from early constitutional protections (and failings) through today.
  • Bacon’s Rebellion (Coming soon): What caused the rebellion, and how it contributed to the growth and dominance of slavery in the American colonies.

We’ve significantly expanded our African-American history units on both BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr., adding many new topics featuring biographies and historical events, including Bass Reeves, Motown, Muhammed Ali, Malcolm X, Jim Crow, Underground Railroad, Tuskegee Airmen, and Reconstruction. On BrainPOP Jr., we offer Ruby Bridges, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

WORLD CULTURES

    • Mansa Musa: The story of one of Africa’s best-known precolonial leaders, Mansa Musa, who built the Empire of Mali into a center of culture and learning in the Middle Ages. 
    • Día de Muertos: The traditions and celebrations of the Mexican holiday, from its roots in Aztec times to contemporary observances in North America and around the world. 
    • Lunar New Year on BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. (Coming soon): The traditions of the holiday, with a particular focus on celebrations in China, Korea, and Vietnam. Slated for publication by the first day of the upcoming Year of the Rat!

 

REPRESENTATION IN STEM

  • Alan Turing: The story of the mathematician and codebreaker who helped the Allies win WWII, and was punished for his homosexuality.  
  • Grace Hopper: A pioneer of computer science, Grace Hopper forever changed the way we speak to computers—and the role computers play in our world. 
  • Concept Maps on BrainPOP Jr.: Explores the life of Sally Ride and shares details about her accomplishments and her role in space exploration.

 

TOLERANCE

    • Bias (Coming soon): Discusses both conscious and unconscious bias in an age-appropriate way. 
    • Holocaust (Coming soon): An overhaul of our Holocaust movie to directly engage the way genocide can happen in an enlightened society. 
    • Harvey Milk: The story of the gay rights advocate who became one of the nation’s first openly-gay elected officials, and the roots of the LGBTQ+ rights movement. 

 

How do you incorporate questions of diversity, representation, and inclusion into your lessons? How do you discuss potentially sensitive topics with your students? How has your approach changed over time? Do you have ideas for additional topics you want to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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