Diversity exists…Inclusion needs to be created
Teaching children to respect people of various sizes, abilities, ethnicities and ages is more important now than ever. Children feel good about who they are when they respect themselves and others. When they learn to value people who are different from themselves, they are better prepared to live tranquilly in a diverse world.
Diversity is the quality of being different or unique at the individual or group level. This includes everything that makes us who we are, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, skin color, language, age, mental and physical abilities, etc.
Diversity exists… but inclusion must be created. In an inclusive environment differences are recognized, respected, valued and celebrated. Meaningful diversity and inclusion efforts create loyal, long-lasting relationships where everyone benefits and feels good.
Today, children interact more frequently with people of different ethnicities, religions, and cultures. Classrooms are increasingly diverse, reflecting the communities where families live and work. Many times bullying is based on these differences. Children are aware of racial and gender differences at a very young age, and by the age of twelve they may have formed stereotypes. Prejudicial thinking can lead to inappropriate behavior and remarks resulting in children being charged with bias based or hate crimes. A hate crime is a criminal offense. In the United States, federal prosecution is possible for hate crimes.
Prejudice and intolerance in the United States are climbing as increasing numbers of minorities choose to live in this country. According to a report issued by the FBI, data collected from 2,800 police departments in thirty-two states revealed 4,755 bias-related crimes. Because this figure does not include the majority of police departments, the actual figure is likely to be much higher. In many cases, such behavior results from lack of education and exposure to people who are different from oneself.
The more we teach children about different cultures, races religions and gender the more we help them understand people different from themselves . Understanding leads to greater tolerance and instills critical thinking skills reducing the likelihood of bullying and stereotyping.
Teaching children tolerance and respect for diversity should be part of our everyday interactions. We must be careful and also help children to use language that focuses on individuals and not their differences or disabilities. This means monitoring closely the jokes children tell and hear. Teaching children to handle anger constructively helps avoid bias based remarks and actions. Teachers should aim to be recognized for culturally responsive teaching.
Taking children to cultural fairs, encouraging your school to have a multi-cultural day and exposing your children to various ethnic cuesine is fun and educational. Games that show participants we share more commonalities than differences promote tolerance and open up dialogue all contribute to teaching tolerance and respect for all.
The following link will provide additional tips to becoming a better multi-cultural educator. http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/resources/self_critique.html