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What elements would be part of an educational program about diversity and inclusion?

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Nivari Van der Voorde
Nivari Van der Voorde Nov 08, 2020
As polarization, diversity and inclusion are present-day controversial topics, I would like to think of ways to get more awareness about this with eventually more equality in global society. A good way to start creating awareness on this topic, is developing an educational program for schools. I am curious about what elements on a program, you think will contribute to awareness on diversity.
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Creative contributions

Kids visiting other kids with special needs

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Nov 08, 2020
Take groups of small children to often meet and play with different groups of peers with special needs - those who are cared for in specialized groups. For example children with down syndrome, deaf children, and similar.

Prepare them well before the meeting. Shower with attention any kid that displays empathy, tolerance, willingness to reach out. The attention would motivate others to do the same.

"Enemies" stuck together for some time

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Dragan Otasevic
Dragan Otasevic Nov 08, 2020
Create situations where kids that otherwise don't get along well are stuck together seemingly by chance. They should be alone and bored together for periods of time. Make it seem like the situation is out of anyone's hands so it's just something that has to be endured for a while. Hopefully, they would collaborate on figuring out a way to avoid boredom. They would at least get to know each other better if not even bond and become friends.
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Nivari Van der Voorde
Nivari Van der Voorde6 months ago
I think is can be very effective. I am just struggling to find ways to create this setting considering an external party comes to school to address this topic in a limited amount of time. Do you have ideas how to execute this specifically? Maybe in a game a similar setting can be created?

Teach kids the "why's" of things

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Nov 09, 2020
Whatever you teach the kids, make sure they understand the "why" of it well. The "what" is of secondary importance and the "how" is a moving target (current best recommendation) up for the kids to improve upon.

If you can get the kids to collaboratively work on building better solutions to worthy problems, you have won at education.
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Nivari Van der Voorde
Nivari Van der Voorde6 months ago
Yes, I am all for! Letting them think themselves of the 'why' but also of solutions will create the biggest impact. In coaching this is a technique used a lot. By asking questions, and with that stimulating thought processes, the coached one gets involved in a more complex issue and is more engaged. Coming with solutions themselves leaves them feel rewarded and the outcome is remembered better.

I would say that a practical way of doing this is by making the program highly interactive.

Ideas of program elements:

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Nivari Van der Voorde
Nivari Van der Voorde Nov 08, 2020
- Show video of doll test
A video in which children are asked questions such as, ‘which doll is the bad doll?’ or ‘which doll is the pretty doll?’ choosing between a black and a white doll. Sadly, even the black children are negatively biased to their own race.
- Interactive investigation how prejudices work
We all have prejudices and this is a natural way our brain works to protect us from danger. However, can we also be critical of the thoughts we have?
- White privilege experiment
Experiment inspired on a video that went viral, about how children from a foreign background have a disadvantage in a running race which is actually a metaphor for society. The children are being asked to take a step forward, when they never had to worry about food or when their school fees were paid for them for example. In the end you see that a certain group is ahead of the others and have a bigger chance of winning this race.
- Speech founder Coloured Goodies
A black entrepreneur who struggled herself with racism and now is giving back to the black community by selling black dolls but also dolls with down syndrome and skin diseases. Her vision is that every child should be able to identify with a doll they admire and that this adds to their confidence.
- Role-play (no given shape yet, any ideas?)
- Debate (no given shape yet, any ideas?)

[1]Hopson & all., Implications of Doll Color Preferences among Black Preschool Children and White Preschool Children, journal of black psychology, 1988

[2]John F. Dovidio, On the Nature of Contemporary Prejudice: The Third Wave, SPSSI, 2002

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni6 months ago
Nivari Van der Voorde Role-play: Projects such as "know-your-neighbor" in the class - all about them, their family structure, how they like their clothes, foods, values, and most importantly, their problems, however small they may be, etc. and give a presentation to the entire class from their point of view. Here, you don't get embarrassed by sharing about your family and traditions (if at all, you are) because you don't have to talk about yourself, you have to talk as if you were your neighbor and the neighbor talks about you. Also, you learn about other's ethnicity (and other kinds of background) and also share it with the entire class. This will work well if the class is represented by many different groups (any kind of group).
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic6 months ago
Tests that uncover "bad apples" might not be liked by parents when their child turns out to be in a bad spotlight.
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Dragan Otasevic
Dragan Otasevic6 months ago
How do you deal with children that have antisocial personality disorders (sociopathy, psychopathy)? Or those with other personality disorders that make them incapable of healthy bonding with peers?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder

Integrate ethnic and indigenous knowledge

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Subash Chapagain
Subash Chapagain Nov 09, 2020
The notion of diversity and inclusion should include larger overarching principles rather than just the assurance of the physical presence of children from different backgrounds and ethnicities. For a more systemic change that can last over generations, I think, in addition to the contextual manoeuvres like mentioned in the above contributions, we need to assure a more cemented approach of inclusion and diversity being realised by the education system as a whole. This can be possible, out of many ways, via the integration of ethnic and indigenous knowledge into both the theoretical and practical aspects of classroom activities.

Broadly put, indigenous knowledge can be referred to as a global concept of knowledge that arises out of the respective cultural, historical and social backgrounds of the indigenous peoples- being shaped by the family, community and the environment. For instance, the informal mediation of education across generations in the tribal communities based on their ontologies and epistemologies. It consists of a cumulative body of strategies, practices, techniques, tools, intellectual resources, explanations, beliefs and values accumulated over time in a specific locality. All the while, the knowledge associated needs to remain free of any interference and external hegemonic forces. This is a crucial point because historically, most of the systems of education across the world- especially in the African and Indian subcontinent have been asymmetrically colonised by the western values, in confrontation with the local traditions and local bodies of knowledge. As the indigenous and ethnic knowledge is not confined to the material sphere but also has the interconnection with the spiritual and non-material realms of existence, an inclusive program of schooling has to very well keep in its theme the idea of respecting such experiential ideas. For example, ensuring that a certain number of Red Indian children enrol in a course/class based in a quota is not enough; what needs to be guaranteed is that the course and the curricula is reflective of the cultural and traditional richness that is associated with these children. From their food systems to their traditions of hunting and harvesting and celebrating carnivals, how might we design the education system as a whole such that the children from other backgrounds develop a sense of respect and willingness to acknowledge their ethnic/indigenous friends? How do we develop this humility organically? This should be the focal issue.

As a starting point, the teachers and educators can start from an inclusive content generation for their teaching. By using examples and contents from a variety of cultures and groups to illustrate key concepts, principles and generalizations, teachers can expand the horizon of the students' thinking and make it more broad and universal. For example, if you are teaching about housing structures, you may very well present examples from rural Northeast Indian villages where bamboos are used as the chief construction material for building houses. Same can be done with the field of medicine: incorporating the richness of ethnobotany will surely enhance the students' understanding of how tribal and cultural knowledge of the indigenous people can be crucial for even the so-called modern world fro which the ethnicities seem so distant and detached.

Celebrate diversity

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Jamila
Jamila Nov 10, 2020
We should try to celebrate diversity as part of the school curriculum.
  • Days where the kids can come into school wearing their cultural outfits.
  • Learn new languages
  • Watch movies in different languages.
  • Talk about/celebrate different cultural/religious events like Eid, Diwali, Chinese new year, etc.
  • Taste dishes from different countries - Kids can bring in their favourite dish, and tell people about it.
  • Use teaching resources that show different types of people.
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Nivari Van der Voorde
Nivari Van der Voorde6 months ago
Yes, very nice input. I was before only thinking in the direction of “dis-acceptance of diversity is painful and harmful, so we need to address this”. But celebrating diversity is just such an important part as well!

Especially tasting dishes from different countries, and maybe specifically sweets I can easily see becoming a hit😀

Other ideas on celebrating diversity:
- Sharing music from different countries
- Discussing different manners and habits
- Quiz: Who knows the most different cultures?

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Jamila
Jamila 6 months ago
Nivari Van der Voorde That would definitely be a hit. There could be a dessert table with loads of yummy food. 😊

I like your ideas for celebrating diversity. For the quiz idea, we could:
- Show people flags, and then they have to guess which country’s flag that is.
- Ask people to guess when certain events happen (like the month) and their significance. - Ask people to guess what language someone is speaking.

Consider human nature and different stages of development

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Dragan Otasevic
Dragan Otasevic Nov 08, 2020
In their pursuit of social status, kids tend to be mean to each other until they are socialized, develop empathy, group hierarchy is well established, etc. Leaving them to "battle it out" could create rifts that are not easy to fix afterward. On the other side, policing them too heavily and interfering creates a different set of negative consequences.

How do we help kids nurture collaboration and not fall victim to the game-theoretic "may the best kid win" dynamic that comes easy to our species?
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Nivari Van der Voorde
Nivari Van der Voorde6 months ago
I think the start of the day or program should be focused on creating and stimulating empathy. This way you can start from a vulnerable and open point of view. The aim should be 'teambuilding' and caring for another and not to create opposite sides.

What do you mean by leaving them to "battle it out"?
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Dragan Otasevic
Dragan Otasevic6 months ago
Nivari Van der Voordeopposite sides emerge naturally. People (kids included) are very concious of social hierarchy. We inately try to put our foot down and claim our spot in society. This behavior is reinforced by the neurotransmitter serotonin https://youtu.be/z-79WwFMiO0 that rewards us for achieving social importance.

If left to their own devices, kids will compete, take stuff from each other, put each other down, gang up on each other, etc. It unfortunately comes to us naturally. Social hierarchy emerges one way or another. By "battle it out" I meant whether to interfere or not in their hierarchy-building interactions.

We should come up with ways of interfering so that there is minimal scarring left on the psyche of kids that find themselves on the losing end of the hierarchy.

Well staffed kindergartens with well trained educators

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Nov 08, 2020
Future societies are shaped in kindergartens or equivalent thereof - when children are first introduced into groups of peers. The kind of environment they find themselves in will influence how they interact with people in the future. That is a crucial period we shouldn't leave to chance or poorly skilled/educated educators and environments where the educators are understaffed to supervise the number of children under their care.

What kind of person would you trust to steer your child's development while you have to be at work? If you can find such a person, can they handle a large group of children under their care without missing opportunities to prevent scarring that would be caused by children competing among each other for social status?


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Nivari Van der Voorde
Nivari Van der Voorde6 months ago
I think this very important indeed. Unfortunately, in the country where I live, The Netherlands, this is a low-income profession. Also, from what I know from my friend that studied Pedagogics, there is a big difference on theoretical knowledge and social abilities. She found that some of her co-students were doing well on written assessments, but their human knowledge or social and communicative abilities were not natural and not good enough to work in this field. I think these social abilities should be an important factor in any field related to mental health or pedagogy, and ways should be found to test these more strictly.

However, in this specific brainstorm I am asking for ideas on what could be good elements/components of an educational program specified on the topic diversity and inclusion. I gave some examples in the contributions. Any ideas on this?

Awareness of biases in thinking

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MJ
Moj Jalali Nov 16, 2020
A great way of getting children/teens to start being aware about diversity and inclusiveness is to get them to be more introspective. What I mean is instead of looking externally showing them different cultures (not saying we shouldnt), there may be value in teaching them about inherent mental biases all humans have. Lots of work has been done over the past few decades to show we all fall prey to set number of cognitive biases. Recognising that that we have these is a great first step to countering them. I think there may be a number of games that can reveal the biases we have in our thinking. I think self-realisation is a powerful tool to make children aware of the mental pitfalls we are prone to. An example of this kind of game we played in an inclusivity and diversity session in my workplace (may not be applicable to children but can give direction):

We were shown a picture of a big, tall, muscle bound man and asked to guess what his favorite drink was. I think instinctively most people assumed it would be beer. You see where this is is going. It turns out that he loved sweet and colorful cocktails.

Daniel Kahnemans book (thinking fast and slow) is a good source for outlining the biases that we most often fall victim to.

Travel

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Povilas S
Povilas S Nov 16, 2020
Unless you live in a city like London, where the British population is likely not the majority of inhabitants anymore, you'll inevitably be immersed in the ambient of one dominating culture. Yes, having classes about different cultures and people, introducing practical seminars with food tasting, handicrafts, etc. help, but I think that's a very limited tool because as soon as kids will walk out of school they'll again be in the midst of dominant culture. Nothing helps to cross the boundaries of your own culture and get rid of the biases better than actually being in a different culture. The more one travels and the greater diversity he/she experiences, the easier is to drop the rigid notions about identity, superiority, etc. Kids are usually also very excited about such trips.

When I was a kid, it was quite usual for a class (if it had a good enough class teacher) to go on class trips, but it was mostly in my home country, with rare exceptions of going abroad. I believe now those abroad trips should be much more common. And if they are not, then it's a good thing to encourage and implement. Air travel is very cheap and very common now, compared to few decades ago and it will get even more so. And with such ideas as proposed by Elon Musk that a rocket could be used to swiftly travel from one place on Earth to another, and other transportation technologies always advancing, in the future getting from one continent to another might be like now getting from one city to another in the same country.

Short class trips are also a rather limited tool, although much better than just cultural classes, and the more often you'd do those trips, the better, but implementing frequent exchange programs, where, for example, the whole class with the teacher could go and be a part of some school in another country and except foreigners in their own school would also be very useful. It's also very important to implement elements of live interactions with local people on those kinds of trips so that it wouldn't be just a walk in a foreign city, but a language exchange exercises, maybe some voluntary work helping people in need in poorer countries, etc.

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