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toward EQUALITY : EXPLORING A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE : RECOGNIZING DIVERSITY : A Resource for Parents and Teachers to Fight Prejudice, Build Pride, Respect Diversity : SUGGESTIONS FOR TEACHERS

February 13, 1989|ANDRA BLUM | Andra Blum , a member of the Los Angeles Times in Education Program staff, taught elementary schoolchildren of all colors, cultures and religions for 14 years. Among her recommendations to teachers who want to reduce prejudice in the classroom are:

1. START THE SCHOOL YEAR OFF BY TELLING STUDENTS WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT AND DESERVE RESPECT. Tell students that there will always be some students better at certain things but not as good at other things. Some students are good at academics but not at sports. Some students are good in music others are good in art. Some students speak Spanish at home; others speak Japanese at home.

2. CREATE A CLASSROOM OF COOPERATIVE LEARNING. Group children for academic learning so they will learn to depend on one another no matter their color, ethnic group or religion. Teach children that they have to work together like a family.

3. LOOK AT CHILDREN--NOT FOR COLOR, CULTURE OR RELIGION--BUT FOR UNIQUENESS. Always find something good even if it's one small thing. A child who can use a new word in a sentence. A child who can write well. Then build on that uniqueness.

4. TEACH CHILDREN TO BE PROUD OF THEIR HERITAGE. Ask children about things they do with their families and get them to say why it is fun or different.

5. HELP STUDENTS LEARN ABOUT PREJUDICE ON THEIR OWN. When it is pointed out to them, they don't make the discovery themselves. They should learn that different is better; sameness is boring.

6. DEAL WITH RACIAL SLURS IMMEDIATELY. Don't ignore it. Ask the child why he or she said it.

7. TALK ABOUT THE MEANING OF PREJUDICE. Tell children prejudice means being afraid of the unknown. To get rid of prejudice, you have to become knowledgeable about it. Have them investigate something they're afraid of. As they become more familiar, they are no longer afraid.

8. INTEGRATE LESSONS ON REDUCING PREJUDICE AND BUILDING PRIDE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. It's more effective than one unit a year.

9. HELP CHILDREN DEVELOP A STRONG SENSE OF FAIRNESS. Get them to exhibit this by making an arbitrary assignment for those, say, in the front row or those wearing green. You don't have to follow through on the assignment. But use the students' protest to underscore the point that all forms of discrimination are unfair.

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES IN EDUCATION PROGRAM

The Los Angeles Times in Education Program offers newspaper-based curriculum guides and student activities, teacher training, a current events quiz and the Los Angeles Times newspaper delivered to the classroom at an educational discount. Curriculum materials are available for elementary, secondary, and adult education classrooms. The program is headed by Paula Poindexter-Wilson. Projects Coordinator is Mary Ellen House. For more information call (213) 237-4342. In Orange County, call (714) 966-7740.

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