The 3rd-grade team, Alice Moore, Renita Levolsi and I met for a half day to think about the current Lion dance performance and the classroom SS curriculum around Chinese-Americans in San Francisco. I was interested to learn more about what the third-grade teachers are doing in the classroom curriculum-wise and how it is also evolving to include more of a social justice lens. Renita shared a link to a trailer for a new documentary about San Francisco’s Chinatown.
All of our questions, ideas, and next steps were documented using the new form for cultural appreciation that was developed last year.
Among the "Next Steps" listed in the doc was the following (which I think was the most important area of concern for all of us): Renita will be writing an email to look for a Chinese Lion Dance consultant to work with us on reviewing our current practice and making any suggestions for better cultural alignment; especially around the use of the Buddhist Monk characters' masks. This next step was determined based on questions we have: are the masks caricatures? Should we use them? If so, is it appropriate for someone not of Chinese descent to wear one? If not, are there other options? Can we dance without having a Buddhist monk?
I welcome the chance to talk with someone who is an expert in Lion Dance and that is of the culture to see what they suggest and learn more about different styles of lion dance that have evolved over the years. It will be reassuring to know that as a result of this connection, I will gain renewed confidence that what we do as we move forward will be most respectful. I will also have someone to contact if concerns arise in the future.