Nature's Classroom responds to slavery re-enactment complaints - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Nature's Classroom responds to slavery re-enactment complaints


The director of an educational program in Massachusetts has responded to complaints made by the parents of a Hartford student who said she was called the "N-word" during a slavery re-enactment.

Parents Sandra and James Baker said their daughter was terrorized by the staff of Nature's Classroom during the re-enactment.

"They intentionally terrorized them and abused them on this field trip," Sandra Baker said. "It's child abuse as far as I'm concerned."

Baker said her 12-year-old daughter and her classmates were called the "N-word" and were chased through the woods.

James Baker told the Board of Education what his daughter told him: "The instructor told me to run and they would whip me until I bled on the floor, and then either cut my Achilles so I couldn't run again or hang me."

When Channel 3 Eyewitness News reached out to the Nature's Classroom, they invited us to the Charlton, MA, location to see what they do.

Students from across New England attend the four-day program, which also teaches things like geology and social studies.

But did the staff cross the line while trying to teach an important part of history?

"I could not expect the word because we are so afraid to even say it that it would be acceptable to any terminology at Nature's Classroom," Director Dr. John Santos said.

He said he can't believe any of his staff would use the "N-word" but defends the program. He said he feels it's age appropriate and has received good reviews from other schools.

"The activity itself has current and historical relevance," he said. "We choose to do that. It is play acting, but cautionary play acting."

He said he had no idea there were any issues and said no one came to them until recently. He said it's up to each school whether they want to participate.

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