Multicultural studies go beyond introducing students to varied perspectives. Teaching students about the amazing diversity of our communities involves telling them the truth about our history and how we got where we are. Sharing stories about different experiences validates students' own feelings and helps them understand others' views better.
Hard Work Ahead
Sometimes, these truths are tough to talk about. As an educator, you might feel uncomfortable sharing your own experiences, or district policies may be restrictive regarding these topics. As parents, you may not have yet reached a place where you're ready to have that conversation, or you might be struggling to find the right words. One way to make these types of discussions more accessible is through literature. Make stories of different perspectives available to all your students. Marginalized social groups need to know they're not alone. Majority group students need to hear how their peers live every day. Everyone can learn from listening to each other's stories.
To support your work in broaching these tough topics, we've created a new Subject Area in the Desktop Player called Social Justice. In this category, you'll find titles about, for, and by marginalized social groups. These topics might seem uncomfortable, but recognizing that unease is proof that there's a space for learning available. Take advantage of that opportunity and pass it along to your students. [Note: You can now access the desktop player from all devices - including your phone!]
Start by encouraging students to just listen. Students can listen to stories that resonate with their own experiences, and listen to stories that sound nothing like anything they know. With personal bookmarks and favorites, they can listen to and save what they want without explaining their choices to anyone. Listening to stories might spark questions. Make a welcoming space for those questions. You don't need to have all the answers, just a willingness to hear them.
By listening, sharing, and learning from one another, we can help our students, each other, and ourselves.