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Friday, September 08, 2017

Setting the Stage for Learning: No Discrimination is Allowed Here

Today students and I talked about the fact that they lead their learning, and the fact that, in this knowledge age, the potential for learning, as well as combining knowledge and passion to reach a happy, successful life, is incredible.

We also discussed the fact that there are obstacles to that potential, obstacles like poverty, lack of education, government/laws, little belief in one's self, and discrimination. We took off on the obstacle of prejudice and discrimination, with the idea that there is no prejudice allowed in the class or in the school--prejudice against gender, lifestyle choice, body type, skin shade, religion, interest, or anything else. Essentially, every child in the class has the right to be who he or she is. We further discussed how historically the shade of one's skin was associated with good survival for the climate/geography where one lived.

Whenever this discussion is raised, and the fact that we accept no prejudice, I always find that children relax, let their shoulders down, and feel better. I love it.

We moved into the prejudice of skin shade using the Jablonski quote that states it's too bad that the politics of skin is not as simple as the biology of skin as the foundation idea. We talked about the biology of skin shade and the fact that our skin shade is a miniscule part of our overall make-up and that our shade gives us hints about our ancestors and history.

I noted that many teachers don't talk about this subject because they are afraid they'll say something wrong or make a mistake, and I invited the students to correct me, ask questions, or tell me if they're uncomfortable. Later I checked in with a few individuals, and one boy affirmed the talk saying he thought it was good.

Do you set the stage for good learning by talking about the history of learning and the obstacles that interfere with this? Do you broach the subject of race and explicitly speak against discrimination at the start of the year? If so, what do you have to share? If not, why not? I'm curious.