Thinking of the works we read with our students as “windows and mirrors” has become a popular way of conceptualizing why and how we diversify our curricula, thanks to Emily Style who named the concept in 1988. In “Curriculum as Window and Mirror,” she wrote:
… [S]tudents’ educational diet is not balanced if they see themselves in the mirror all the time. Likewise, democracy’s school curriculum is unbalanced if a black student sits in school, year after year, forced to look through the window upon the (validated) experiences of white others while seldom, if ever, having the central mirror held up to the particularities of her or his own experience. Such racial imbalance is harmful as well to white students whose seeing of humanity’s different realities is also profoundly obscured.
In considering how the curriculum functions, it is essential to note the connection between eyesight and insight. … no student acquires knowledge in the abstract; learning is always personal. Furthermore, learning never takes place in a vacuum; it is always contextual.
Finally, as we began writing this, we shared in the widespread tributes to Beverly Clearly, who passed away this week, at the age of 104. In her honor, let us continue to give our students opportunities to read stories they can see themselves in, to encourage them to “embrace their too much-ness,” and to write the books that they want to read. And let’s continue to create the ELA classrooms we and our students need and want.