Every culture perceives skin tone differently. Based on the history of the United States, such themes can seem taboo for an educator. Yet misconceptions and misinformation can quickly become the norm if educators do not address differences within a classroom. In my opinion, teachers can be proactive in the process of talking about race and ethnicity in the classroom. I would like to offer the following advice from my experience as a classroom teacher.
Archive for tag: education
If you’ve been in any conversations about race, you’ve likely heard the term “microaggressions”. You may be wondering two things – what are they, and what is the big deal?
Microagressions are small infractions that communicate a bias of some kind. They’re often unintentional or even subconscious and are not even clearly racially motivated. But they pass along small messages of racist concepts. (Microaggressions aren’t always race-related, either. People can use microaggressions related to gender, sexual orientation, ability/disability and more.)
While most professionals who work with kids believe that they’re genuinely accepting of all and nonjudgmental, the truth is, studies show that most people have hidden or implicit biases that shape how we feel and behave. The thing about implicit biases is that we don’t always notice that we have them. It’s not overt racism, like believing that one race is superior or that all people of a certain race are inferior. But it’s there all the same. No matter what background we come from, what race we identify as, how our parents raised us, what type of community we grew up in, we all carry prejudices and biases.
Research has disproven the commonly held belief that children only have biases if they’re taught them. Children form their own biases related to race not only from what they learn from parents and other adults, but from what they observe in their own surroundings. One researcher compared this to accents – if children only learned what they observe from their parents, the children of parents with accents would also have accents. But instead, children observe a variety of patterns from society, school, their community, etc. and adopt behaviors based on what they see.
One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday afternoon is to go downtown to one of the community gathering places and watch children play in the interactive water fountain. I love to watch them run into the spouts and feel its force of energy as they splash around in the water. The run, they fall down, they get back up. When the fountain changes patterns and diminishes its force, the children giggling and jumping watch in hopeful anticipation of the water shooting up from the spout again. Not knowing when or where the next spray of water will be, the children look toward their parents or siblings for cues as to how to negotiate their next move.
It is infinitely harder to change what already exists rather than start from scratch. This is especially true with long-entrenched cultures, and structures.
On the flip side, the potential for shifting resources within a large, well-respected institution can lead to results on a much larger scale than a start-up. This is the power and potential for leading change within an institutional context.
I spend about five hours a day slacking off. Really: I spend that much time doing stuff I enjoy, that isn’t on a task list anywhere. I walk through the beautiful university campus near my house – during the workday. I cook for pleasure. I lay around on my daughter’s bed reading while she does her homework.
You’re probably thinking, “I could never do that!! Because I have to [insert 500 good reasons]!” Maybe you now believe that I am lazier and more pampered than you previously imagined.
Early in the year, Cristina Garcia recalls her student laughing as he ripped artwork off the walls. Cristina is a Pre-K teacher at Momentous School and has worked in education for 16 years. This year she had the most challenging student of her career.
Music is often said to be the universal language, connecting people across nationalities, backgrounds and ages. All one has to do is bask in the triumph of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 or experience the sublime beauty of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 to appreciate this maxim.
One of the most striking and moving aspects, for me, when reading the beautiful book a picture is worth... (Arch Street Press) is getting to hear the unfiltered voices and perspectives of these young adults, smack in the middle of growing up. They write with insightful reflection about their pasts, and their words ache with excitement for the future when they share their goals and dreams -- graduating high school, attending college, having a family and home of their own.