In Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed, educators have used the trial as an opportunity to help their students examine the complex issues of race, policing and the criminal justice system.
At this point in the school year, Lacrissha Walton typically focuses her social studies lessons on the 50 U.S. states and their capitals. But last week, the Minneapolis teacher scrawled a question that had nothing to do with geography on her fourth-grade classroom’s whiteboard: “Have you watched the Derek Chauvin trial?” While the murder trial of Mr. Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd, might not appear to be age-appropriate instruction for 9-year-old students, Ms. Walton said she felt compelled to use the event as a teachable moment. All of her students had seen their city consumed by protests in the months that followed Mr. Floyd’s fatal arrest, and some had seen the widely circulated video, filmed by a teenager, that captured his violent, slow-motion death. “No little kid should watch that,” Ms. Walton said. “But when it’s plastered all over the news, they have questions.”