Assistant Professor in Elementary Social Studies Education
Iowa State University School of Education
Growing up in Texas, Noreen Naseem Rodriguez wondered why there weren’t people like her in school textbooks.
“I went through 20 years of schooling and I never learned about the history of Asians in America,” said Rodriguez, who is half-Pakistani and half-Filipina — or what she affectionately calls Pakipina. “Even though it’s my racial background, because I never learned about it in school, I never had access to it.”
Rodriguez aims to change that for other students of color. This fall, she joins the Iowa State University School of Educationas an assistant professor in elementary social studies education.
She said many students find social studies boring because it tends to be disconnected from their own experiences, and often boils down to a memorization of dates and people. Teaching social studies this way misses an opportunity to provide children with a foundation in civic education, she said. Rodriguez instead uses children’s books as a tool to teach the difficult histories of people of color in the United States — and engage students in culturally relevant and sustaining ways.