Monday, September 12, 2011

Teaching About Prejudice

As I have mentioned before CM1 is majoring in history and Holocaust studies at his college. This was always to be expected. He has always been an empathetic and caring human being. When he studied genocide during high school, it truly put him into overdrive to learn basically what causes such ignorance and evil.

The surprising thing that has happened though is that CM2 seems to be following in his brother's footsteps. While he is hell-bent on majoring in computer science, he also seems to be befuddled by hate. CM2 never could tolerate cruelty and evil but I truly never thought he would allow himself to be so challenged. This semester he is taking two courses, one called The Power of Prejudice and the other called Fathoming Genocide. I am truly proud of him for picking these classes.

Neither youngman understands when others are mean, cruel and abusive. They have a huge need to understand hate and why it is so important to some people. Tell me again how autistics are not supposed to think beyond themselves....

CM2's para told me that on the first day of his Prejudice class all the students had to tell something about their ethnic and racial background. CM2 was a little put off because in a class of almost twenty students he was the only Jewish student. Living in a rather homogeneous community that was in and of itself eye opening for him. I suppose it never really dawned on him that in a world of over 6 billion people there are only 14 million Jews world-wide (you would also never know it from the news that Jews comprise less than 1% of the world's total population. Here is also something that the boys will have to face.) There are students from almost every continent and economic sphere. He will learn perspectives from around the world and some from right here in this country. The para was concerned that it might be a little free flowing for him, not enough structure. But I told him he needs that class. It will help him understand what the world is truly about. He doesn't have to agree with every perspective he hears, but he needs to hear them and not be afraid of them.

Interestingly the first pairing that they did in that class, was to have a partner tell something about you...CM2's partner just ended up being a Palestinian-American youngwoman. The para said you should have seen both their faces when they were put together. It was actually not done on purpose. They happened to be sitting next to each other and the professor just went round the table assigning the person sitting next to you to be your partner. Well they survived, the both of them. The Professor pointed out at the end, that sometimes there are messages in life and that things work out in ways you least expect. That maybe people need to understand that to solve our problems the only way is to talk to each other. A little world lesson on day one...yep I think this is going to be a very good year for CM2. Not necessarily an easy year, but a very good year.

Meanwhile to help CM2 with his first assignment, Wise Old Sage found a terrific website that teaches children about the different kinds of prejudices and forms of hate. It's from the group International Kids Club...I highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to teach tolerance and understanding to their child. This is a great place to start.

Click HERE to go to the site.

Following is a list of "intolerances" from the International Kid's Club. What can you and your child come up with in order to fight these prejudices.

Form of prejudice: Due to Differences of: Examples of types: ( *see note below! )
skin color white, black, yellow etc.

race Caucasian, Asian, Arab etc.

religion Moslem, Christian, Hindu, etc.

culture Asian, American etc.

language, dialect Any language, dialect, accent.

dress Sari, Jaleba, Kimono, Head Scarf, Turban, etc.

country origin Any Country
Classism economic class poor or rich

intellectual class college degree, blue collar, white collar, etc.

social class social group , interests, activities, sport, etc.
Sexism sex and gender male, female, girls, women, boys, men

sexual or gender orientation heterosexual, homosexual
Lookism appearance and looks attractive, unattractive, facial, body features, etc.
Ableism physical and mental ability differently abled, strengths , weaknesses, intelligence ,etc.
Ageism age adults, youths, elderly, etc.

*NOTE: In no way does it suggest that you or anyone you know are or should be prejudice against any "TYPE" listed! "TYPES" are listed only to illustrate example of possible "DIFFERENCES" in column 2.

The website has some interesting ideas that helps explain these forms of human ignorance to your child. Leave comments below to let everyone know what you and your child have come up with. The best way to fight prejudice is to share our arsenal on how to battle against it.

But remember everything is just your opinion. Everyone doesn't have to agree with you nor adhere to your perspective. Back up ideas with real facts too. Opinions based on erroneous facts are meaningless. Also don't comment if you can't handle being challenged.

Until next time,