Diversity And Children Series - Part 1
This is a series of four posts. Part one is a general explanation of diversity in the classroom. Part two is the role of the parents in teaching their children diversity, part three the role of the school, and part four the role of the teachers.
Last week, I received an Email from one of my connections on LinkedIn, asking me this question: Should kids at school be encouraged to mix and mingle with children from different backgrounds or should they stay within the same race group? My first thought was: What a loaded question.
This is becoming an increased concern of parents that have children in schools, especially in public schools, due to the rapid change in demographics. More immigrants entered the United States in the last two decades than in any other time.
The American classrooms nowadays are filled with children with different degrees of English fluency, children born and raised in the US from immigrant parents, children born to parents from mixed backgrounds and cultures, Caucasian, African American children etc… That means that we have different degrees of cultural diversity presence not only in our daily lives but also in our schools. Different cultures have different ways of learning and interacting with society, and when these different cultures are all mixed into one classroom it makes the education process even more difficult.
To put it as simply as possible, from the children's point of view, it is all the other kids that are different from themselves, either because of skin colors, facial features, ways of dressing, foods and eating habits, or different languages. The natural reaction of the children is to be drawn to similar children that speak the same language, look and act the same, with same value system and set of customs they are used to.
It gives them a sense of security and comfort. But being typical children, their curiosity will get the best of them and they will start asking questions about the different children, and they will need guiding answers. The best part about children is that you don’t have to teach tolerance, most are born with a natural sense of justice and fairness, unless they are taught otherwise. All we have to do is nurture this natural love of people and get out of their way.
Diversity starts at home,