Last week, I was disturbed by a question posted by one of my connections (will call her Concerned Mother” the question was: “Should Kids Be Encouraged To Mix And Mingle Or Stay Within The Same Race Group?”
The story was that “Concerned Mother” visited her 2nd grader’s school recently and noticed that he was seated with 4 boys whom were the ONLY Asian looking boys in a whole class of about 24 to 25 students. Her son is born and raised in the U.S. and speaks English fluently (his first language) and understands a little Chinese. The other Asian kids’ fluency of English was wide-ranging from very little to good.
I couldn’t help myself but wondering who chose the seating arrangements: Was it the teacher/ school or the kids themselves, each has a different implication, neverthless both need to be definitly addressed properly.
I will discuss the general consensus of why teaching kids Cultural Diversity & tolerance in this post.
In the 1990s more immigrants entered to the United States than in any other decade. As a result of this many kids/students with limited backgrounds in English are starting to share American classrooms, that translates to a great cultural diversity presence in both our schools and our daily lives. First and foremost, we need to define how diversity and its definition applies specifically to this case and to the children in schools in general.
To put it as simply as possible, from the children point of view, it is all the other kids that look different, different skin colors, different facial features, different ways of dressing, different foods and eating habits, different languages etc…
The natural reaction is that children will be drawn to similar children that speak the same language, look the same, eat the same, with same value system and set of customs (as lnot eating pork by the Moslem and Jewish kids) as it gives them a sense of relating and belonging, and falls into their comfort zone, though their curiosity will arise about the different children and they will need to ask questions.
All the diverse children that share the American schools, have something in common is that they all speak English at school, then go and speak their native language(to certain degrees at home) probably communicating with their grandparents
With all these differences within our society, there are going to be many problems in the way that teachers will help educate, communicate, and interact with our culturally diverse schools, best approach will be to address the issue and turn the kids’ experiences into positive interaction between themselves.
Children need to be taught since their young age about the diversities around them and that is the role of both the teachers and the parents. It starts at home as our kids follow our leads as parents, parents need to really look at the way they handle diversities themselves. Parents should provide a safe environment where diversities can be discussed, and where Stereotyping is not accepted or engages in. Parents need to set an example that reinforces acceptance, equality and cultural competence.
Schools and teachers need to make the children feel confident enough to discuss why the other children are different. They need to encourage children to meet and play with children of different backgrounds, have school excursions to different Ethnic museums, celebrate the different cultural festivals and other ethnic celebrations (like The festive of lights Diwali, Kwanza, Christmas, Ramadan, Passover etc…) to break down stereotypes.
Ideas like leaving the kids in their comfort zone are total injustice for the children, they might be missing on great opportunities to learn from other cultures and become better human beings.
Children grow to be the future population of any country, they will become what we taught them in their childhood. By letting the children from certain cultures just stick together and not mingle with others is teaching them subconsciously that “they better stick with theirown race/kind” and that this is their comfort zone, it is planting these ideas in the children’s mind without saying them, so my question is if we don’t address this issue now: What kind of values are being taught and encrypted in our children’s mind that will stay with them all their lives.
It is one thing teaching our kids our native languages, core beliefs, values and our idendity, make them understand and cherish their roots and who they are; but also it is not fair not to allow them to mix with others to develop an affinity for diversity where they can learn how to interact and understand the outside world through the eyes of children that might look different than they are.
Teaching acceptance and tolerance of different cultures is not forcing our ways and views on the children, it is simply giving them an opportunity and a choice to grow in a more diverse world where they can choose later on, based on personal experiences how to deal with the world around them
The children of today are the Presidents, Politicians, Executives, Journalists, Activists, Actors, Managers, Parents, and Teachers of tomorrow
Now what do you think?
I will be discussing the roles of both parents and teachers in developping diversity, and tolerance in our children.