The world is having very important conversations regarding diversity right now, making it the perfect time to touch on social injustices, prejudices, and stereotyping in one of the most important places in our society—the classroom. Growing up as a first-generation Asian American, I didn’t always feel welcome in the classroom in elementary and middle school. This was partly due to the lack of lessons to help other students understand diversity.
There are so many opportunities for teachers to create lessons and activities that celebrate other cultures, religions, nationalities, and personal decisions, which will help create a comfortable and safe environment for everyone in the classroom. Most importantly, teachers will be able to nurture a more tolerant and understanding generation of students.
One of the best ways to break down prejudices and stereotypes is through literature. Students can benefit from being exposed to more books that touch upon tolerance, prejudices, racism, and stereotyping. Some popular choices include books such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Hate U Give, and Don’t Call Me Special.
Another great way to increase awareness of other cultures is to share and celebrate each other’s holiday traditions. Questions such as where the holiday originated from and why people celebrate it will help students gain a deeper understanding of a variety of nationalities, religions, and holidays.
However, the best way to nurture culturally sensitive and understanding students is by being a positive role model. By actively standing against racism and prejudices, teachers will introduce important concepts about identity, culture, and tradition to their students, which will then influence their behavior in the future.