Learning the Value of Diversity
Children's identity and self-respect are related to how others treat them, and ultimately to their future success. Therefore, school personnel need to promote a safe, humane environment where inclusiveness, justice and an appreciation of individual differences are evident.
|by Leah Davies, M.Ed.
Regular contributor to the Gazette
January 1, 2009
Children's identity and self-respect are related to how others treat them, and ultimately to their future success. Therefore, school personnel need to promote a safe, humane environment where inclusiveness, justice and an appreciation of individual differences are evident. When staff are respectful toward students no matter what their gender, social class, race, nationality, religion, disability or cultural background, children will follow their example.
How can administrators and staff help children value diversity?
Hold anti-bias, diversity training workshops or support groups for all personnel. Include sensitivity awareness of racial and cultural differences present in your school. Invite community members representing various groups to speak about their customs and/or concerns. Require staff to speak and act in an unbiased manner.
Develop a clear "School Standard" that staff can support and enforce. For example:
Decide which age-appropriate consequences will result from various student infractions. Depending on the student's age, some suggestions are:
Inform the student body that harassment of any kind against other students or staff will be dealt with swiftly and firmly. Follow through with action.
Encourage peaceful student interaction and cooperation. Institute a peer mediation program that trains children to mediate conflict among their peers.
Provide a safe, consistent classroom atmosphere where children's strengths are accentuated and their differences are respected. Establish a climate where children feel free to share their thoughts and feelings. Teach each child to stand up for him/herself, and to uphold the rights of every other child.
Use multiethnic, culturally-sensitive materials, curricula and textbooks whenever possible. If biased materials such as old history books must be used, ask the children in what ways they present a prejudiced view. Include equitable concepts as an integral part of daily classroom life.
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