1st Edition

Black Ants and Buddhists Thinking Critically and Teaching Differently in the Primary Grades

By Mary Cowhey Copyright 2006

    What would a classroom look like if understanding and respecting differences in race, culture, beliefs, and opinions were at its heart? If you were inspired to become a teacher because you wanted to develop young minds, but now find yourself limited by "teach to the test" pressures and state standards, Mary Cowhey's book Black Ants and Buddhists: Thinking Critically and Teaching Differently in the Primary Grades will reignite the passion and remind you that educators provide more than test prep. Starting her career as a community activist, Cowhey shares her roots and how they influenced her Peace Class, where she asks her students to think critically, learn through activism and discussion, and view the entire curriculum through the framework of understanding the world, and what they can do to make it a better place. Woven through the book is Mary's unflinching and humorous account of her own roots as well as lessons from her heroes: Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, Jr, and others. Her students learn to make connections between their lives, the books they read, the community leaders they meet, and the larger world. Black Ants and Buddhists offers no easy answers, but it does include starting points for conversations about diversity and controversy in your classroom, as well as in the larger community. Students and teachers investigate problems and issues together, in a multicultural, antiracist classroom.

    Prologue Black Ants and Buddhism; Chapter 1: Introduction; Chapter 2: Compassion, Action, and Change; Chapter 3: Routines: A Day in the Life of the Peace Class; Chapter 4: It Takes a Village to Teach First Grade; Chapter 5: Talking About Peace; Chapter 6: Learning Through Activism; Chapter 7: Teaching History So Children Will Care; Chapter 8: Nurturing History Detectives; Chapter 9: Seeing Ourselves and Our Families Through Students' Eyes; Chapter 10: Responding When Tragedy Enters the Classroom; Chapter 11: Building Trust with Families and Weathering Controversy; Chapter 12: Going Against the Grain; Afterword


    Mary Cowhey has been teaching first and second grade at Jackson Street School in Northampton, MA for nine years. Before becoming a teacher, she was a community organizer for fourteen years. She has won numerous awards for her teach­ing, including a Milken National Educator Award, an Anti­Defamation League World of Difference Teacher Recognition Award, and a National League of Women Voters Award.

    "This fascinating text takes readers on a journey. The book is nothing short of provocative." - Childhood Education
    "Written in an engaging style, this is an inspiring book for educators and parents alike." - Mothering
    "Every page is jam-packed with valuable information that defies a single reading." - Education Review