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Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Facing Prejudice: What is the responsibility of the elementary school?

I am fortunate to teach in a community that has many different religious groups and buildings. Within the community there are a number of Christian churches, a Unitarian Meeting House, a mosque, synagogues, and possibly more.

Recently a local religious institution received a hateful, prejudiced letter. Many people from other religious organizations came forward to support that religious group. This was a positive show of community support and solidarity.

Today the prejudicial and hateful act came up during a classroom conversation. The conversation arose after we watched Tim McGraw's terrific music video, "Always be Humble and Kind." I mentioned that one aspect of the video I like is that it represents such diversity of geography, cultural background, and religion.

When we spoke of the prejudicial act, one boy said that his friend told him about that and that his friend felt bad. When I heard that, I wondered what we should do as a school in the face of this prejudice.

One idea I had is to add a Muslim holiday to our religious days off. Currently we have Jewish and Christian religious days off, but no Muslim days off. I'm wondering that if we honor a Muslim religious holiday will we develop greater respect for by all for that religion?

I also wonder about our efforts with regard to religious groups. Way back, when I was first teaching, we had the religious leaders of all major religious organizations in the town come and speak to students. It was a great discussion. Students asked lots and lots of questions and I felt it grew students' understanding of one another in a positive way.

I'm still thinking about this topic. I'm looking forward to discussing the topic with colleagues. In the meantime, let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions. Thank you!