Evidence suggests American primary educators would be served by diversity training, lending to the eradication of prejudicial treatment of students based on culture, poverty, race or sex. There are established means to lessening prejudices. It is time to include this kind of education in training teachers in America; learning how to engage students and teach curriculum is not enough if our diverse society will survive peacefully and thrive.
Stories in the news run throughout each school year of prejudicial treatment of students. Statistics show clearly that schools in poverty level areas have less inclination to push students to higher learning, less extracurricular activities, less social and educational mentoring, and the ramifications of that have long been studied and expounded on. Many times this poverty level educating runs along racial lines, Latino and African Americans being the hardest hit, although it’s often unclear if the lack is toward the races or if the races are largely in poverty and this is one of the ramifications of that social imbalance. Abject racism does exist in educators of course. In some cultural structures in our country sex is a factor in the belief systems, for instance some areas believe that boys will all grow up to be working class not interested in higher education, or little girls will likely only grow up to be service industry workers, so the minimum standard is all that is worked toward. In the communities in this country where poverty lives, it can be hard to believe that children who come to school for the food and social interaction, will ever be able to rise above familial mindsets.
Believe we must. The broad problem of school districts exercising under these conditions will change if the teachers, who become administrators, are educated on an ongoing and individual basis, geared toward the communities they serve, and the prejudices held. The community needs are an easy demographic to explore, recent census results, observed community events, how many students are on free and reduced meal plans, etc. Prejudices we hold are a little trickier. Most of us don’t enjoy looking at that too closely; however there are tasks like Implicit Association Tests or IAT’s, available to us. Results can lead to courses immersing in the subject, because immersion and education on things we hold preconceived beliefs about is how awareness and change happens. Exploring music, food and styles to establishment of behavior, creates positive associations in our brains. Knowledge is power, the best kind.
This matters because the tension of prejudices from any direction are damaging; they do not build up communities, governments or homes. When a child is regarded with a negative belief, that child will believe it too, or not. Both options creating problems in behavioral development; most children will fall to the culture of their lineage and fight to prove or disprove, surrender to or blame, struggling against or under the boundaries of limited thinking and beliefs, impedes progress. If an individual learns of things they do not understand, they gain understanding, and understanding leads to places of connection and compassion and good energy. This is what I hope for in every teacher for every child, the opportunity to open the mind. Teachers are our greatest resource to change.