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Teaching Multicultural Awareness in the Early Years

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by nscott86, Jun 9, 2020.

  1. nscott86

    nscott86 New commenter

    First time poster here!
    I, like many others, have been thinking carefully about the impact of systemic racism on the black community in the UK since the Black Lives Matter movement in America. It is clear that the evidence is there to say we have a long way to go still and as educators of the youngest members of school I feel we have a huge responsibility to try to make a difference.
    Does anyone have any ideas for how your would approach improving children's awareness of multi culturalism and becoming an anti-racist school?
    So far all I have is an ever growing list of books which I think should be in every classroom, amongst other books so that seeing a character who has black or brown skin becomes the norm. Looking at my class bookshelf, all I have is Handa's Surprise - which in my opinion is not representative of the black community and isn't particularly exciting to read!
    Any plans, strategies, conversations would be greatly appreciated!
  2. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    Interesting discussion. I think making sure you have books where the characters have different ethnicities, so that seems normal to the children, is a great place to start.

    Be careful of linking the ideas of multiculturalism and race. A person's skin colour is not necessarily linked to a different culture. Not all black people belong to the same community (eg. black African, black Caribbean, black British), and neither do all white people; you might have white Polish children in your class whose culture is quite different from that of the white British children.

    We can celebrate multiculturalism by exploring festivals and events which are significant to different cultures. This works particularly well if you can makes links to events happening in your community, so that they have more meaning and relevance to the children in your class. Maybe there are children in the class who celebrated Chinese New Year or Diwali or Eid, or maybe a visitor can come in to talk about the celebrations. Books are a useful resource, as are videos from the internet, but for young children being able to make a link to a real person has more impact than hearing about a generic "some people".

    In contrast, anti-racism is about emphasising the similarities between people. Children may make assumptions that outward appearance means someone will be different, and we have a responsibility to challenge those assumptions. Everyone experiences the same emotions, everyone can enjoy the same things, everyone can celebrate the same festivals.

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