It all started as an honors contract.
Seniors Amy Kitzman, interdisciplinary studies major from Coppell, and Sarah Shingler, elementary education major from Magnolia, collaborated on their contract to fulfill yet another upcoming due date. However, upon reading their contract, Dr. Sarah Straub, assistant professor of education studies, had another idea for this paper: publish it.
Shingler and Kitzman co-authored a paper titled “Opportunities and Rationale for Asian American Representation in 4th Grade Social Studies TEKS.” Straub decided to push the students to publish it in the spring issue of the “Journal of Social Studies and History Education."
“In my personal experience, I never heard of anything Asian in all of my time in school,” Kitzman said. “So, [Shingler and I] just did a couple of Google searches, and we found that there is actually a lot of Asian representation in Texas history that doesn’t get talked about. We ended up doing a whole research project about the World War II internment camps in Texas.”
One of these internment camps was in Corpus Christi and gave Kitzman and Shingler the “focus” of their paper.
“We focused on trying to figure out where there was room for growth in the TEKS to literally write in Asian representation,” Kitzman said. “You hear about other influential figures, but you never hear about the Asians in Texas history, or U.S. history for that. That kind of overall summarizes [our paper.] We wrote a lesson plan at the end, and then Dr. Straub decided to put it up for publication.”
Straub said the subject is “super timely” and an important topic in the current social climate of our country.
“There is a lot going on in terms of Asian hate recently,” Straub said. “[Shingler, Kitzman, and I] talked about this, and we wrote about it in the full, published article. Culturally responsive pedagogy is a huge deal to me, and representation really, really matters.”
This is also important to Kitzman as “a lot of her family,” including her mom, are from Japan. To Shingler, she wanted to write this paper firstly “because of Amy.”
“She’s been a huge advocate for Asian American representation and rights from the entire time we’ve been in college,” Shingler said. “My role, as someone who isn’t an Asian American, is to just listen, learn and then, in turn, advocate, so I thought this project would be a good platform to learn more.”
The paper consists of research, implementation and a lesson plan at the end to give potential readers a way to use the information presented.
“The earlier part talks about how they were able to find ways to subvert the system and take something that exists, like how we have a white Euro-centric curriculum, but these students have found ways to get around that and add these stories,” Straub said. “They wrote about that method. I think it's something that educators that are currently practicing can read that and be like, ‘Okay, that’s my permission. I can take that and go.’”
Making the paper something that educators can benefit from was a major goal for the co-authors.
“Other educators and other people are going to see this and, like we said before, Asian American representation isn’t a well-known topic or isn’t talked about a lot,” Shingler said. “It meant a lot not only that we got to do it, but that other people will get to see it as well.”