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A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute RULE
The A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE®
Institute Philosophical Framework

Much research exists about both the acquisition of prejudice and about the pedagogical strategies that have proven to be most effective in combating prejudice. This academic research, in conjunction with empirical evidence by ADL staff, helped to define and refine the philosophical belief system that underlies all of ADL's education programs.

Research states that the first critical step in reducing prejudice is for people to come to grips with their own unconscious stereotyping and the damage it can do. According to Gordon Allport, prejudice serves a useful function as it helps to organize one's perceptions of the world.

As early as infancy, people begin to distinguish between the familiar and the strange, the "me" and the "not me." In childhood, people join groups and learn to draw boundaries between "us" and "them." By adolescence, group identity becomes even more important.

In order to effectively address bias and prejudice and promote intergroup harmony among students, researchers have found that certain dynamics must be in place. Anti-bias efforts are most beneficial:

  • When all students are involved

  • When it is in-depth, long-term and infused into the overall curriculum

  • When students are introduced to multicultural activities at as young an age as possible

  • When teachers have the attitudes, training, materials and support needed to deliver the activities and lessons

(Campbell and Farrell 1985; Garcia, Powell and Sanchez 1990; King 1983; Merrick 1988; Rich 1990; Ruiz 1982; and Swadener 1986, 1988).

Many anti-bias efforts focus on bringing diverse groups of individuals together to discuss concerns and improve intergroup relations. With respect to school-based efforts, research has found that diversity programs rarely improve cross-cultural relations if the treatment of diversity is too brief and/or superficial. Presenting facts and information about other cultures has little or no effect on attitudes or behaviors. Additionally, "one-shot" or limited exchanges rarely result in the reduction of bias or prejudice (Byrnes and Kiger 1986-87; Garcia Powell, and Sanchez 1990; Gimmestad and DeChiaria 1982; Hart and Lumsden 1989; Merrick 1988; Pate 1981, 1988).

What methods seem to be effective in addressing prejudice and improving intergroup understanding among young people?

    1. Cooperative Learning: Numerous research studies have shown that learners of all ages when organized into culturally heterogenous teams and achieving success at the completion of a task or activity, experience significant decreases in intergroup tension, noted by both observers and participants (Byrnes 1988; Parrenas and Parrenas, 1990; Pate, 1981, 1988; Slavin, 1990; Swadener, 1988).

    2. Empathy Development: Effective practices which are aimed at developing understanding, positive regard, and prosocial behavior (empathy), have proven to foster more positive intergroup relations.

    3. Developing Critical Thinking Skills: Activities which assist students in the ability to identify and challenge faulty thinking or common fallacies, which are often associated with prejudice and bias, have proven to reduce prejudice in some subjects by revealing that it is not logically supported. (Byrnes 1988; Pate, 1981, 1988; Walsh 1988, etc.)

    4. Developing High Self-Esteem: Probably the most widely-proven link is between developing a positive self-regard and having a positive regard for those who are culturally different from oneself. Individuals who feel good about themselves and their identity are less likely to be prejudiced and biased towards others. (Byrnes 1988; Garcia, Powell and Sanchez 1990; Hart and Lumsden 1989; Mabbutt 191; Pate 1981, 1988; Peck, Donaldson and Pezzoli 1990; Walsh 1988).

{Many of these findings were excerpted from the Fostering Intercultural Harmony in Schools: Research Findings Report, prepared by Kathleen Cotton, Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Portland, Oregon, 1993}.



 

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About A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute
•  A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute Overview
•  History
•  Philosophical Framework
•  Workshop Framework

A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute Works!
Evaluations:
•  Peer Training Evaluation Report: Peer-reviewed Journal Article
•  Peer Training Evaluation Summary Report
•  Peer Training Evaluation Highlights
•  Summary of Selected Findings on Student Involvement
•  Anti-Bias Study Guide Review and Classroom Impact
•  Names Can Really Hurt Us Assembly Pilot Program Findings
•  Cantor-Fitzgerald Center for Research on Diversity in Education: Final Report Summary of Evaluation Findings - June 2000

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