Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Celebrating Diversity in the Classroom

Teachers are expected to effectively teach in a diverse classroom. This can be difficult when racism and feminism is prevalent in today's culture. 

A teacher is partly responsible for shaping students’ attitudes towards racism and feminism. Most students tend to develop their attitudes and morals from listening to their families and friends. 

However, a teacher can encourage and provide examples of the importance of being open-minded. Teachers should remain neutral and unbiased in order to avoid controversy. 

The attitude a student develops needs to be completely up to them. Teachers need to show students the negative effects of making hasty generalizations of specific social groups in order for students to avoid developing a hatred of a race or gender. 

In the classroom, students should learn about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust, the Woman’s Rights Movement, the Rwanda Genocide, and current events that show acts of hatred toward a specific race or gender. These examples will show students that it is important to be open-minded and to accept people who are different than what they consider normal based on the attitudes that they have developed.

Teachers can provide ways for students to learn and appreciate diversity by celebrating the differences that make us unique. By learning about other cultures, students will be more knowledgeable enabling them to develop their own attitudes rather then basing them off of someone else’s opinion and ignorance. 

In social studies, our students learn about India. They are learning about their religions, work ethic, culture, languages, and historic events. Students need to learn about all religions. 

Our students have embraced this culture and are looking forward to learning about the people of other countries. This is important especially in the Detroit area where there are many people from different cultures: African, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Polish, Mexican, and many more. 

The more students understand these cultures the more likely they will keep an open-mind. There are many free resources available for teachers to use within their classrooms in order to pass on these values to students.    

February is African American Celebration and Black History Month. We watched and discussed the films "A Children's March" and "A Time for Justice" provided for FREE by the Teaching Tolerance Project. Students were interested in learning about the Civil Rights Movement and the role children played in the battle against segregation. 

Our class also watched and discussed the E60 episode "Four Weeks in Ferguson" provided by ESPN. This lesson opened their eyes to current issues involving racism with the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. 

We also had a recent discussion on the viral video created by the University of Oklahoma's chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. In this video, members of this fraternity were chanting a racist song.

There is a growing pattern of hate crimes that involve racism being committed. We must continue educating students on the importance of being knowledgable of other cultures. 

Three Muslim students were recently murdered in their University of North Carolina residence hall room over a parking dispute. These type of crimes are often ignored by mainstream media.  

"Remember the Titans" and "42: The Jackie Robinson Story" are excellent sport movies that also show students the negativity of racism. These films should be discussed or viewed either at home or in the classroom.   

Diverse groups need to be involved with education policy decisions. Teachers need to give students an opportunity to discuss their racism and emotions. 

Discussions on diversity also need include differences in socioeconomic statuses. Our school district teaches this important concept through Habitat for Humanity.  

Students also need to be aware of the differences in sexual preferences. There are resources and lesson plans provided by the Teaching Tolerance Project to discuss these differences. 

Published: Oakland Press Open Forum Blog Bytes (June 23, 2013)