Our Changing World - Education is the Key
Children are our most precious gifts!
Like seeds BURSTING with potential,
born to grow, to flourish, to blossom.
Children require nurturing caregivers, like gardeners, who passionately tend their gardens daily.
Children are inquisitive, full of questions,
no preconceived ideas.They like who they are and feel good about themselves.
Until their roots are damaged by outside forces.
I left occasional teaching in an ethnically diverse city in the late 90s to
teach occasionally in an ethnically starved City.
Shortly after my move I had a kindergarten assignment. I met the kinders at the outside door and took the leader’s hand. I
led the class
down the hall to their room. We were nearing the classroom when I heard a little voice ask me “Are you dirty? Why are you that colour?” I looked down. The child who’s hand I was holding was carefully studying the back of my hand. “No”,
I replied, unabashed, “I am not dirty and if you wait ,I will tell the whole class why I am this colour.”
Can you walk in the shoes of a 4 or 5 year old Black
child? Could you imagine how they would feel fending those questions?
After we had finished morning classroom routines I gathered the students on the carpet in front of me and
proceeded to give them an age appropriate African history lesson.
I am happy when students ask me questions about my
race. Those are the
teachable moments I relish.
Education has changed. Diversity is included in the curriculum.. (Whiteway)
remember my grade 7 social studies teacher in the 60s, during the civil rights days in the U.S. He thought the world would be better if everyone was beige. Hmmm?
Thank goodness times have changed. Celebrating diversity builds strong self confidence roots. Diversity makes a beautiful garden!
I live in
Canada’s most diverse province. In 2009 the Ministry of Education launched an Equity and Inclusive Education Plan..
Equity recognizes we all don’t
start from the same place and acknowledges fairness as treating people differently according to their needs.
The plan created an education system, fairer and more inclusive
for all students, educators and staff, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other factor related to individual identity.”
Today’s curriculum is more
inclusive than it has ever been as a result of that plan.
I clearly remember teaching a grade 6 math class. I asked the students to take out their math textbooks and turn to the lesson their teacher had left for
All of a sudden I heard a student shout “Look! He’s wearing a turban” That was the first time I had seen a South Asian person in a textbook.. The student who yelled out BTW was the only South Asian student in the class.
I GOT IT! I empathized with that student. I knew exactly why they couldn’t contain themself. I attended school in the 50s and 60s. I never saw anyone looking like me in a textbook.
There is more to this story. WHO DO YOU THINK THE MATH TEACHER LOOKED LIKE?
WAITED 60 PLUS YEARS TO SEE MYSELF IN A TEXTBOOK.!
IMAGINE! A BLACK MATH TEACHER WITH AN AFROAND she waswearing glasses. It was surreal! When I said I had never seen myself in a textbook I meant a Black person.. Never in my wildest dreams would I have
considered seeing my real
self as a teacher
in a text book.
There was a student in a wheelchair in that same math lesson. THAT’S WHAT INCLUSIVE EDUCATION LOOKS LIKE AND FEELS LIKE.
February is Black History Month in Canada. It’s the celebration of the achievements, accomplishments and contributions to the world made by people of African descent .
Schools now celebrate it. A warm feeling floods through me when I walk into schools with visual signs
of Black History Month. I
see Black students stand a little taller and bloom brighter when they learn about the achievements of their people.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL FEB to Attend a Black
event, watch a Black documentary, read a black author, or do anything to learn more about Black people. Some day there will be no need for a Black History Month.
world IS changing. People who were never
seen years ago are now becoming part of the mainstream. There is still room for more inclusion. I have faith in this generation, ROOTED in inclusive education, to make space for everyone.
Nobel Peace prize winner Nelson Mandela said “Education
is the greatest weapon we have to change the world’