Thursday, June 04, 2009

How To Teach Kids Diversity

There's a really excellent article over at Simply Catholic, entitled "Racism and Homeschooling," that every homeschooler and public or private school educator needs to read. The author answers the criticism common to many anti-homeschoolers that only in a public school can kids really learn to appreciate diversity, and really be properly socialized, by pointing out how many better opportunities are available to homeschooling families. I've read a lot of posts and articles on socialization, but this one takes a unique angle in showing how homeschoolers can - and DO - teach our kids to appreciate and respect other cultures and races, far more effectively than what can happen in a classroom full of kids. The author concludes with a list of 10 ways you can teach your kids to appreciate other cultures, even if they don't live among them.

Here's just a very small sample of the great material in that post:

There is something about learning in school that just sucks the life out of anything exotic. Where are the smells of basil and curry? Where are the lilting tones of another language or music? Maybe you glimpse a foreign culture in a film-strip or an assembly? What unique cultural experience awaits the student within the walls of the classroom that can not be duplicated or improved in the home? Do not allow yourself to be fooled into thinking that just existing in a classroom with a child from Russia or Guatemala serves to immerse you in that culture. . . . When they are in class with you everyone is sitting in the same desks, looking at the same book, eating the same school lunch, taking the same standardized test and swinging on the same swing set at recess. Talking and interaction, learning about each other are NOT what school is about. The classroom couldn’t withstand that kind of interaction on a regular basis — I know I sat in one for 13 years.

Now let me make a radical suggestion: I am purposing that the homeschool setting is actually more likely to expose the average child in the average community to different cultures, peoples and experiences than the school setting. I would suggest this even if it was not the parent’s intent to expose their children to different cultures, but if the parents value their children learning about different cultures in the least they can quickly and easily surpass even a good public school in this area.

Schools have one huge disadvantage when it comes to immersing a child in the diversity of real life: they remove the child from real life. Children are segregated in schools by age, by ability and often by language. On top of this children then commonly segregate themselves by neighborhood affiliation, race, creed, or special interest. . . . Even in my rather homogeneous high-school the band geeks and chess club sat at one table, the jocks at another, the cheerleaders never mixed with the glee-club and the poor students and rich students sat on opposite sides of uncrossable divides. If you want to learn about segregation between races, creeds and class go to a public high-school.

Darcee has some great insights, many of which I've not seen before. It's a rather long post, but it's well worth reading - you'll be glad you did!

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