During these trying times, it is important to have open conversations with children to help them make sense of a very scary situation. As a teacher at Genie Academy, I am encouraged to support my students and help them in whatever ways I can.
I am very lucky that Genie Academy wholeheartedly supports this kind of open dialogue. Speaking of dialogue, I wanted to share a conversation I had with two of my writing students.
A couple of months ago, we analyzed a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, "You must be the change you want to see in the world." While discussing the meaning of the quote, we talked a bit about Gandhi and the tremendous impact he has had on the world. The students were not familiar with him, but they learned about Martin Luther King in school. I mentioned how MLK was inspired by Gandhi’s peaceful protests and how effective they were in bringing about change in India. Flash-forward to this week, and we were doing a prompt on family histories. One student wrote about how her great-grandparents were involved in the fight for Indian independence and it gave me the opportunity to remind these same students about Gandhi and his message of peaceful protests. We talked a bit about why non-violent, peaceful protests are important and how they can be used to enact change.
Moments like this remind me of how vital it is to teach this new generation about fighting for what’s right. They need to be taught that their voices matter, and that what they look like or where they come from, should not.
I recently saw a list of great children’s books that discuss race and racism, and I think they can be a helpful resource to open the conversation about discrimination with children. They are never too young to learn about treating others with kindness and respect, and that they are deserving of that same kindness and respect.