This week’s article summary is How To Talk "Taboo" Topics with Young Students.
Tuesday morning we had our first DEI chat of the year. Our featured speaker, Dr. Kristin Carothers, talked about how even our youngest students are influenced and impacted by societal stereotypes about gender, race, etc. One comment she made really resonated for me: “As human beings, we often unwittingly tend to exist in spaces that confirm our beliefs or stereotypes about the world without needing, desiring, or attempting to actively engage with others.” Hence, adults in children’s lives need to help them explore and make better sense the diversity of the world that they may otherwise not see.
The article below from a 4th grade teacher (try to take the time to view her 10-minute TED Talk that’s linked in the article) provides a broad template of how we as educators (and parents) can support our kids as they try to negotiate a complex and confusing world and hopefully avoid societal stereotyping.
She lets us know the following…
- that we all have to continue on our own personal (and professional) DEI journey, acknowledging that we all have biases and blind spots yet remaining open to learning and growth
- that we must create a trusting and respectful classroom (and school) culture that allows for both proactive and reactive discussions around topics that are often deemed taboo…like race, advantage, ability
- that rather than teach DEI in isolation, we can connect DEI to almost anything we do in the classroom
- that we avoid solely categorizing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion to the past and help kids see how these affect the present (and their lives)
DEI work is challenging as it pushes against the conventional order of things and the comfort of our beliefs, experiences, and perspectives. We often also feel ill-equipped to converse about topics that society deems impolite and that we’re not experts in.
Yet as elementary educators who shape our students’ academic and attitudinal foundation, we need to guide them toward being active champions of fairness and justice.