A globalized world means that all of us will need to embrace diversity and learn how to navigate its challenges as they present themselves.
Many people feel nervous and unsure how to ask questions and have conversations about diversity. We are afraid that we will say the wrong thing, which might hurt someone else or embarrass us. It sometimes feels easier and safer to avoid the whole issue.
At the same time, our identities are rightfully important to us and we can feel strongly about defending them. This can often lead us to become emotional about issues around gender, race, faith, culture, sexual orientation. We sometimes carry the idea that by listening or even accepting someone else’s belief, might make ours less true.
This is of course, not true. We need to encourage children to be open to learning about diversity, in a respectful, curious and caring way. Make this safe for children
- Encouraging children to ask questions when they see people who are different to them (even if it’s embarrassing or awkward).
- Role model taking a respectful interest in diversity (ask questions, read books, search)
- Expose children to people who are different, and talk about what makes you different and the same.
- Don’t be afraid to have hard conversations about diversity – reinforcing the idea that listening is not accepting, and role modeling appropriate ways to manage and hold emotions and express opinions.
- Cutting out inappropriate language and gestures.
- Saying sorry when you make mistakes, and role modeling ways to make it better (apologizing, asking for forgiveness, finding ways to act better next time).
It is clear that we need to learn more about different people, and find useful ways to show respect and understanding for each other.