School Ends Slave-Master Role Playing Teaching Exercise After Complaint

WBIR-TV (Knoxville, Tenn.), Jan.17, 2007


For four years, social studies teachers at Ringgold Elementary School have held an exercise that had some fifth-graders play slaves and others play masters while learning about the Civil War.

Teachers would divide their classes into slaves and masters on one day and then reverse the roles on the following day.

The students were not divided by race. Afterward, the students would write essays about “how it felt to be marginalized.”

But Ringgold teacher and Montgomery County Commissioner Lettie Kendall, who is black, became concerned about the exercise after a white student refused to do a math assignment, saying she didn’t have to because she was a master.


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