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Learning Library Blog 4 Ways to Create Diverse Curricular Content
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4 Ways to Create Diverse Curricular Content

By Queena Ko
September 23, 2020
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The Innovator Solutions section includes contributions from corporate sponsors and advertisers representing education organizations, businesses, policy-making bodies and other influencers dedicated to transforming education. This blog post was provided by Guggenheim Museum.

There is a need for inclusive teaching in our present moment. Over the past months, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has exposed the inequities experienced in different communities across the globe. As online learning brings together students from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds and conditions at home, there are new opportunities for educators to challenge and expand student perspectives. As life goes online due to the pandemic, here are four ways educators can use digital resources to diversify curriculum content to be relevant to their student audiences.

1. Broaden your lens

As a museum educator for K–12 students in New York City, I am very aware that art collections and exhibitions in museums traditionally focus on Western and European art history. This bias has an impact on our audiences. A recent 2020 Culture Track survey conducted by LaPlaca Cohen confirms that “the cultural sector has an inclusion problem,” with stark disparities in representation from Hispanic and Latinx, Black and African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Native American audiences. If museums and other cultural organizations want to expand their reach, they first have to recognize their own biases as a starting point for including other perspectives. As educators from all fields integrate virtual platforms such as Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams and Zoom into everyday teaching, there is a unique opportunity to model equity and inclusivity by broadening the resources used to research and create lesson plans.

2. Explore the unfamiliar

At the Guggenheim Museum, educator resources highlight underrepresented artists and artworks in the collection. While creating the digital resource Teaching Modern and Contemporary Asian Art, we learned one of the main barriers to teaching about Asian artists for K–12 teachers was uncertainty with pronouncing Asian names. To address this barrier, we chose to represent artist names in several ways. In the example below, Guggenheim collection artist Qiu Zhijie’s name is represented in the original Chinese characters, Latin script, and a transliteration based on colloquial phonetic pronunciation. We also provided an audio file where users can listen to a spoken pronunciation of the name. Incorporating multiple points of entry for artist names is just one strategy for making new and unfamiliar concepts more accessible to learners online.

3. Include primary sources

Including primary sources, such as images, audio and video, in digital lesson plans can help students visualize how educational content is relevant to their own lives. Teaching online makes it easy to pull together and present information in a variety of formats. In art classes, showing a portrait of an artist, sharing an artist’s quotation, or playing a video of an artist can give students crucial insight into how or why an artwork was created. It is also an effective way to include representation from women artists, BIPOC artists and other traditionally marginalized groups. For example in the title image above, artist Navin Rawanchaikul is pictured with his 88-year-old grandmother in Chiang Mai, Thailand, holding a reproduction of Guggenheim collection artwork Places of Rebirth (2009). On the Guggenheim website, you can view the full artist video, “Navin Rawanchaikul: A Family Reunion with Grandma,” to see how Navin was inspired by his family’s post-partition journey from their homeland of Punjab (now Pakistan) to their “place of rebirth” in Thailand.

4. Teach with empathy

It is important to build trust with students before engaging in new or unfamiliar ideas. Make sure to set expectations at the very beginning of the lesson and allocate time for discussion and reflection throughout. By doing this, teachers can help to build a sense of community and connection online.

When implemented in lesson plans with care, digital resources can help create diverse curriculum content that gives learners the tools to challenge their assumptions and negotiate complex and diverse perspectives.

Teaching Modern and Contemporary Asian Art is a thematic resource for educators featuring 27 artists in the Guggenheim’s collection. Discover the high-quality images, videos, discussion prompts, and activities included in this content-rich resource, and find out how to navigate and customize the materials to introduce contemporary artists from East and Southeast Asia to your students.


Queena Ko is manager of curriculum development in school programs at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Queena grew up in Silicon Valley and is interested in the intersection of art, technology and education. She has taught museum audiences throughout New York City for over a decade. Main photo: Guggenheim website “Navin Rawanchaikul: A Family Reunion with Grandma." 2013. Courtesy of the artist.