How does living in a highly diverse yet largely inequitable society affect childrens development?
Raising children in a highly diverse and inequitable society may have different implications for their development and growth. One of these ways is the fact that they grow to gain a sense of belonging and loyalty to a particular group and identify themselves with their culture. This aspect, however, goes hand in hand with the consequences of dislike and occasional distrust of other social and cultural groups. This element also creates bias from minority groups in the society that all ethnic hate and discrimination emanates from the majority group such as the white people. This aspect leads to ignorance and avoidance of issues among the minority groups themselves such as intolerance, social segregation, and harassment.
Inequitable societies lead to children growing up with stereotypical thoughts and beliefs such as gender bias regarding leadership and matters education for example girls cannot lead men or that they are not good in mathematics. The aspect of a child being brought up in a highly diverse society helps in eliminating personal bias and entitlement for the reason of being of a particular religion, ethnic background or social status. The development of children in communities that are inequitable is however not impacted by their personal and human difference but rather by the inequity of resources. Their bias rises from the hurt and unfair treatment they experience in the society against groups.
What do children in a diverse society need to grow up healthy and strong?
Children in a diverse society require indulging in various activities and practices that will enhance their growth into strong members of the community. They also need training and exposure to certain conditions to ensure healthy growth. It is crucial for learning institutions to include cultural studies in their curriculum to include previously ignored sub-cultures allowing the children to feel recognized and socially relevant. Children also require learning their backgrounds and that of other communities different from them. This process encourages tolerance of other cultures beliefs and reduces cases of discrimination and harassment. Interaction with different cultures from varying societies also aids in creating curiosity of the other cultures causing the children to embrace, enjoy, learn and get ideas from this different culture borrowing useful life skills from them. Exposure to different cultures and their experiences helps in destroying predetermined stereotypes of the different cultures. Children also require concrete experience such as role models who help them find their personal and teach them how to treat and interact with people different from themselves
What do early childhood educators (and families) need in order to respond to this challenge?
Educators are required to be sensitive to the different cultural and religious practices and refraining from generalizing traditions beliefs and values of various groups directed at one child who is a member of the said group. They should be recognized as individuals not their belonging to a specific group. The classroom atmosphere and the classroom itself should be warm and comfortable fostering acceptance and cooperation. Educators should also ensure that they teach conflict resolution skills to the children in small groups or through class meetings. They help children in being more tolerant of other peoples beliefs as well as creating an atmosphere of consensus.
The teachers and family members should encourage and direct the children in identifying their weaknesses and working on them as well as identifying their strong points. Teachers should use different teaching methods to include all students who have different capabilities and which are sensitive to cultural orientations of students.
Bucholz, J. L. &Sheffler, J. L. (2009).Creating a warm and inclusive environment: Planning for all children to feel welcome.Electronic Journal for Inclusive Education, 2(4), 1-13.
Reid, J. L., & Kagan, S. L. (2015).A Better Start: Why Classroom Diversity Matters in Early Education. The Century Foundation and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council.National Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University.
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