DANA WATTS



INTERVIEW


How has race and intersectionality impacted your life?


I was really naive when I first learned about race. I grew up in a community where I thought everyone was really well-respected, where there was equality. It was a primarily Jewish community, and I thought I was the minority. When I went overseas, my eyes were really opened to the amount of racism that exists in the world—and I also realized all the blinders I had on while I was living in the States, growing up in the ’burbs. I learned a lot.


Now, I'm the Director of Research and Development for International School Services. We start up international schools around the world … and my students have a really global perspective. When I was teaching humanities in one of my first jobs, I had to teach World War II. I realized that in my class I had students from Russia, and Japan, and England, and Germany, and the United States. They all experienced World War II in different ways. It wasn't just the single view that I had learned as a student.


Why is talking about race necessary in your work?


Within the international school community, I’ve been working with the Diversity Collaborative, spearheading educational programs and [emphasizing] the importance of DEIJ efforts with school boards and accreditation agencies. I realized that anyone who isn't male and pale isn’t being represented.


The international schools are really like independent private schools in the States. They tend to serve more elite students and children of the world. It's not as open to students of all different socio-economic backgrounds. So when we went to online learning, in the States many schools had to shut down because kids didn't have access to the internet. The schools are often better funded overseas, and that's really sad—that's a failure of our education system, and that inequity is something I really want to address.


What was it like editing the lesson plans and seeing everybody's work?


It's really inspiring. I really love seeing all these teachers working from different parts of the country—trying to figure out how they can incorporate these amazing stories from Tell Me Who You Are into lessons, making them really hands-on for their students. It has been an absolute joy to work on the lessons.


What would you like to tell any educator looking at your work right now?

Make sure that you're not trying to speak for people who are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves.

Make sure that you're not trying to speak for people who are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves. We need to continue to advocate, and learn, and listen—really step out of the way and let people who are ready to lead step up.


We can't let what's happening right now die down.





A huge thank you to Dana for reviewing the lesson plans!



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CHOOSE is a student-led organization working to equip every American with the tools to talk about race and act on racism. An intersectional and intergenerational movement.

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Last Updated: October 2020

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