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Using Confederate monument controversies in St. Louis and elsewhere as a teaching tool

A crane lifts the top off the Confederate Memorial in Forest Park on Thursday, June 8, 2017. A spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson says it will take a while to remove the entire piece.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI
File photo: A crane lifts the top off the Confederate Memorial in Forest Park on Thursday, June 8, 2017.

A teacher at New City School in St. Louis is using the controversy over Confederate monuments, including the recently-removed Confederate Memorial in Forest Park, to teach fifth graders about diversity, inclusion and conflict resolution.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from that teacher, Stephanie Teachout Allen, who also serves as director of diversity and inclusion at the school, and David Cunningham, a professor of sociology at Washington University, about how they have hosted these conversations with children and others in their lives.

"Fifth graders are eager to engage, are critical, and this is about building skills," said Allen of the subject matter's suitability for young children. She said the discussion in her class started with an assignment for kids to interview adults in their lives about different symbols, like the Confederate flag, and those interviews were used as starting points for discussion.

Students also visited the Confederate Memorial in Forest Park before it was removed, discussing different ways to adapt, transform or change the monument. In one instance, students recommended building a Lego wall around it and on each brick, St. Louisans would write their dreams. 

Listen as Allen and Cunningham discuss how they facilitated conversations around the Confederate monument controversies in the United States:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.