A Virginia elementary school is under fire after one of their Black History Month lessons drew anger from parents.

According to the Loudoun Times-Mirror, third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students in physical education classes at Madison’s Trust Elementary School were asked to run through an obstacle course meant to represent the Underground Railroad.

The students were told to work in groups and pretend to be runaway slaves to get through the course. Obstacles included getting over hurdles and jumping through hula hoops, according to CNN.

At least one African-American child played the part of a slave, NAACP Chapter President Michelle Thomas said:

“Slavery was not a joke. You didn’t get to choose.”

The lesson drew outrage from parents, prompting an apology from the school’s principal who has promised to reteach the lesson in “an appropriate and respectful context.”

Posted by Madison's Trust Elementary School on Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Principal David Stewart said in a statement:

“The lesson was culturally insensitive to our students and families … my sincerest apology to our students and school community. This is contradictory to our overall goals of empathy, affirmation and creating a culturally responsive learning environment for all.”

The predominantly white school district gets complaints “every year” around Black History Month, due to other similar lessons. Thomas said:

“Loudoun County has a history of miseducating kids, number one, and perpetrating racist things amongst our students. This is not the first one. This is the first one of many. This is the most egregious, and the timing is incredible.”

She emphasized a need for district staff to go through race and bias training.

Some parents around the country are taking black history education into their own hands, Dearly previously reported.

A North Carolina mom recently celebrated the month by dressing up her daughter as influential black women including, Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, and Anita Hill. The photo project quickly went viral on social media.

What do you think of the school’s controversial lesson? Let us know in the comments.

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10 Replies to “School Apologizes for ‘Underground Railroad’ Lesson That Had Students Run Through Obstacle Course”

  • Pamela Balcom 2 years ago

    To be able to empathize one must picture oneself in the place of both slave and slave owner. We used to do this through reading but now teachers run silly obstacle courses. Trying to teach empathy is done best through parents and reading worthwhile literature. This kind of politically correct education must make Frederick Douglass sick! (I believe he still sees us;)

  • Jefferson 2 years ago

    “Culturally insensitive” is one of the reasons our children are not being taught. Students need to understand and learn facts about our past. The fact that students are able to say their feelings are hurt instead of learning is a disgrace. For the head of the local NAACP to say a school has a history of miseducating students is sad. Because you disagree with the school doesn’t mean they are miseducating. When the children fail state testing the students are not blamed for not studying rather the teacher is and yet they constantly have their hands tied.

  • Rodney Brooks 2 years ago

    As a historian I find every opportunity to keep my mind open for “Teachable moments”. Our children and now grandchildren (7/6/4) years old understand what I’m talking about after we go on a field trip to a museum that uses 2-D displays of the subject in question.
    I don’t know about anyone else, but with our grandchildren will play video games all day long. Kids today have the attention stand of 30 seconds. Teaching kids today with teachers talking about a subject they should have read last night as homework is not working. Teachers today spend more time with OUR children then most parents.
    If you wasn’t to teach Black history, Indian history or Lewis and Clark travels. Just remember the teacher is competing against 4-D video gams. Teaching has to be interactive and fun, otherwise the students will shut you down.

  • Amateur Historian 2 years ago

    Wonder how long before the Underground Railroad is put on the subjects teachers are forbidden to teach about list. Before long teachers will be saying there was no such thing as slavery and the Confeeracy.
    Those who are not able to (or won’t) learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

  • K.G. 2 years ago

    I think that was a great lesson that had the students active in gym and tying it back to a larger lesson. Kids need to be active and constantly be taught in fun inventive ways to keep them engaged. Teachers are constantly having to change their ways of teaching to cater to the kids. It was not insensitive and people need to grow up!! Stop being so politically correct!! Its not helping our kids.

  • Danae Martin 2 years ago

    People have been escaping slavery for thousands of years: Jews out of Egypt; Europeans out of the Third Reich; Cubans off the island of Cuba; Russians out of the USSR. Maybe it would be a good idea to use these kinds of examples for Black History Month.

  • Diana Hudson 2 years ago

    I think it’s a great way to teach kids.

  • Kaaren Porter 2 years ago

    Good idea. Children can then realize what our history is, and the horrible struggle that people had.

  • Lance Merlin 2 years ago

    People are so damn sensitive. It sounds like an interactive lesson and the school should not have apologized. This society of victimhood is just getting ridiculous. Slavery is alive and well in the minds of those who refuse to let it go.

  • Alyssa 2 years ago

    It’s history. It happened. Should we stop teaching our children history because it will offend them? That’s ludicrous!

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