Diversity in the Classroom

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.

Diversity & our Children

Diversity & our Children

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.

 Cheers,

Sahar Andrade

www.saharconsulting.com

www.linkedin.com/saharandrade

Twitter:@saharconsulting

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Diversity in the Classroom

  1. I agree with your blog. I think that the children should be able to socialize and get to know the different students in their classroom because it cause teach the children different things without actually having to “teach” the child. The students can learn many different things by communicating and working in a more diverse environment. They could learn different culture types and how others go about their daily life and can compare it to their own life. They will eventually learn that not everyone in the class room, or environment is the same. Being in a diverse class could help the students with not judging different people because they will eventually be around the “different” children long enough, that they will learn that technically everyone is the same in some aspect whether it be, everyone makes mistakes, or something else. I think that they diverse classroom based on race or ethnicity is a neat thing for the child to be involved in.

    • Lindsey:
      Thank you, diversity also includes the physically or mentally challenged children so if children grow up not only seeing different races, cultures and ethnicities around but also see challenged children they will grow with empathy and compassion (for the most part) all around it is beneficial for all.

  2. As a future teacher, I think that the question “Should Kids Be Encouraged To Mix And Mingle Or Stay Within The Same Race Group?” is an important idea for teachers to consider when in the classroom. Allowing and encouraging students to mix and mingle with children of different race and background will plant the idea of diversity and equality among peers early on. I agree with the idea that schools should incorporate material to be taught on diversity in elementary curriculum and that seating students in a diverse manner is a great first step toward encouraging acceptance among students. Teachers play the largest role in setting an example for students through how they treat each student, other teachers, and other school staff members because many children are likely to not experience much diversity at home, if any at all. It also states above that the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow, and I believe that children that have never learned the value of accepting other people’s differences, whether race, religion, or background, will not be very positive leaders in the future. This is why it is so important for teachers to incorporate diversity into the classroom while students are young and impressionable.

    • Katelyn:
      I couldn’t agree more I discussed all that in details in a 4 [arts blogs about diversity and children after that blog
      I am attaching a link to the 4th part of the blog which has links to the other parts. The blog discusses in details what you are talking about
      Hope you will enjoy it and thank you very much for your comments
      Sahar

  3. One of the reasons I choose my sons elementary school for them was the cultural mix their school has. In my opinion for them to be successful in the future they need to learn at a young age about the world. In their school over 10 different languages are spoken. They get the knowledge of different cultures history from a young age and I have seen how it opens their eyes to the rest of the world. I love the school they are in because they do celebrate the different holidays and make all the kids know they’re important.

    • Thank you so much for your thoughts I do believe the more children grow with an open mind and heart to different cultures the more citizens of the world they become and the more successful dealing with barriers in business in the future will be
      You are doing great by your children
      Cheers,
      Sahar

  4. Thank you for your insights. My three children are multicultural, as I married outside of my ethnic group and culture. We have our two oldest in public schools for the first time this year, after home schooling, and consequently more situations are arising for us to think about, deal with, or explain to our young ones.

    • Thank you for your input, I posted this blog because I really get concerned when some teachers/ educators prove once more that they don’t consider Diversity as a part of growing and interacting for the kids and to increase the awareness of the parents to this issue so they can check on their children at school where they are seated, how they are seated etc…
      Best way is to discuss diversity with your children and you got a great start, My husband and myself are also from different ethnic backgrounds as well as different religious backgrounds our life is like any other married couple life because we work at it to be that way
      I am glad you enjoyed the post
      Thank you
      Sahar

  5. The question for most people is not whether diversity or encouraging children to diversify their relationships is good or not. The question is how to encourage this without discriminating. “Go play with the little Indian boy instead of the other black girls….”, well that’s a bit tough. So, what to do without profiling or meddling.

    Here are some thoughts:

    1) rotate children to “pair” with every other child
    2) introduce by personality types

    Getting boys and girls to play at an elementary level can be quite challenging. This would also address that.

    Anyway a few thoughts for you.

    • William:
      Thank you so much actually this was part 1- Thank you so much for your thoughts I will definitly add them on my blog about the practices/solutions to the diversity in the classroom if you don’t mind
      Appreciate you visiting my blog
      Cheers,
      Sahar

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s