Teaching children begins by taking a look at ourselves
Parents, guardians, and teachers also struggle
with diversity issues every day. First, we need to take a hard look
at ourselves and explore our own cultural biases and assumptions.
What "filters" impact the ways in which we view the world?
What words are we using to teach our children about their own culture,
as well as about those around them? Do our actions match our words?
If the only people different than ourselves that our children see
us interacting with are paid service personnel, we are indeed sending
a message about how we value diversity.
We should attempt to integrate diverse information
into regular conversation and daily activities. Relegating this
type of conversation to "multicultural time" or to a specific
holiday or month sends a message that these activities are unimportant
relative to other activities. We must seek out opportunities that
relate to those things that a child does daily or weekly.
We must prepare ourselves to respond to acts
of bias, even if they are unintentional. Children will carefully
observe how the adults in their lives intervene when someone is
the target of hurtful or discriminatory behavior. Silence in the
face of injustice conveys the impression that adults condone the
behavior or consider it not worthy of attention. We must make it
clear to our children that name-calling will not be tolerated and
explain the thinking behind "zero tolerance" when it comes
Next: An exercise for teaching diversity