The Sikh Coalition along with the Texas Sikh community was successful in adding Sikhism to the Social Studies state mandated curriculum last year. As the next step, the Coalition hoped to work with Texas textbook publishers to ensure that information about Sikhism printed in the next revision cycle would be updated and accurate.
However, due to budget constraints, the Texas Education Agency has put the textbook revision process on hold indefinitely. At the beginning of the 2011 – 2012 school year, Texas teachers were nevertheless mandated to start teaching Sikhism alongside the rest of the world religions. However, if these educators do not have textbooks or any other educational resources to do so, how will that happen?
Sikh Coalition Reaches Out to Texas Teachers
This year, the Coalition has led and organized several teacher workshops throughout the state in an effort to equip Texas teachers with appropriate information about the faith. The Sikh Coalition presented information that could be used by teachers to teach Sikhism at the following conferences:
Friends of Geography (FOG) Conference – Houston, TX (September 24)
Asia Society Texas Center Educator Nights Series – Houston, TX (October 19)
Texas Alliance For Geographic Education (TAGE) Conference – Austin, TX (October 21)
The presentations consisted of a brief introduction to Sikhism, a short video, and a question and answer session. Each attendee was also given a 20-page packet containing lesson plans, information on Sikhism, ways to respond to Sikh bullying incidents, and a resource list that contained links to books, films, and teacher resources online. Click here to see pictures!
The presentations were also followed by a turban and patka tying demonstration, in order to dispel any myths that people might have about the dastaar. Some presentations even had a tabla demonstration and featured traditional Punjabi clothing. Many educators who attended have already requested Sikh awareness presentations and/or resources for their school.
Rita McMahon from Dulles High School in Fort Bend ISD in Houston said that the Coalition’s presentation was “a perfect introduction to Sikhism. My new knowledge will help my students understand other people in diverse communities!”
In addition, the Coalition hosted a Sikh Awareness presentation to 300 students and a dozen educators at two Houston high schools: Sharpstown International School and the Houston Academy for International Studies.
The Coalition would like to express its heartfelt thanks to both Paul Pass, the Education Coordinator at the Asia Society Texas Center and Dr. Jo Beth Oestreich, the TAGE conference coordinator for organizing these workshops and inviting teachers to attend.
The Coalition would also like to thank the local sevadaars from Houston and Austin for assisting in these presentations: Manpreet K. Singh, Parminder Singh, Shawn Bhatia, Gurkaran Singh, Harmeet Kaur, Prabhjot Singh, Jagdeep Singh, Surinder Singh, Moninder K. Chadha, Mohini Kaur, Gurinderjit Singh, and Sahib Singh Chadha.
If you are a Texas parent/student and want Sikh resources sent to your teacher or a Sikh Awareness presentation done at your school, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.