Using social and emotional learning to promote confidence and pride in ethnic difference and diversity

‘Using social and emotional learning to promote confidence and pride in ethnic difference and diversity’

Overall learning objective/aim

To allow adults and young people to consider and celebrate ethnic differences and diversity and to encourage confidence, pride and tolerance in being different


This module is intended to support adults (parents; educators; teachers; community workers) and young people (aged 8-17+) to learn, discuss and understand mixed culture and the environment in America through the use of social and emotional teaching and learning. It intends to enable individuals to obtain an understanding of ‘others’ and general racial stereotyping, what it means to the individual from a minority ethnic group (MEG) as well as to the white community.

The module is developed in two parts. Part one of the module focuses on adult learning and discussion around racial cultural backgrounds, identifying cultural differences and racial stereotyping in and out of the school environment, discuss federal, state and local legislation/policies and identify ways in which these can be deterred. Part two of the module is designed to implement these learning’s to pupils during class time and after school hours in social youth groups. This will ensure that adults support young people using a social and emotional approach in order to eliminate racial stereotyping and promote tolerance and pride in ethnic difference and diversity. The module can be delivered by adults over a period of three sessions at approximately an hour per session.

The use and importance of social and emotional learning in the school curriculum


Research into emotional literacy reveals that teaching young people to become emotionally literate is a positive preventative tool that can assist in giving students alternatives to violence and dysfunctional relationships (Bocchino, 1999; Elliot and Faupel, 1997; Miller, 2001).  It therefore, has been suggested that a curriculum that addresses topics of self-awareness, decision-making, managing feelings, self-concept, handling stress, communication through ‘I’ messages, group dynamics, and conflict resolution may indeed empower young people to address a climate of violence, including prejudices and stereotypes in schools (Goleman, 1995 in Sharp, 2000:9).  Moreover, giving students the tools of self-confidence, clear thinking and knowledge of how to handle distressing feelings may empower victims to assert themselves and may encourage passive bystanders to become upstanders by intervening when witnessing bias-based bullying incidents (Sharp and Herrick, 2000 in Sharp 2000:9).  Students who feel respected and experience a positive approach in the classroom are more cooperative, thus showing the benefits of teaching through the use of social and emotional literacy. (Roffey, 2008: 36). Whilst using emotional literacy as a teaching strategy, this may allow pupils to develop self-awareness and become empowered, this is also beneficial as part of school preventative and intervention measures.





How do we understand the complexities between what is racism, racist prejudice and racist bullying? It is important for all educators to continually note that various actions are most often motivated by an individual’s racial and ethnic background even if the consequences of such acts may not have been intended. Definitions can be suggested as an important as well as productive start to any discussion and to aid in understanding what makes us different. Parents and educators may well prefer to begin the module by determining what is defined as racism and obtaining a constructive input from children and young people.


The official definition for racist bullying is:


“The term racist bullying refers to a range of hurtful behaviour, both physical and psychological, that makes a person feel unwelcome, marginalized, excluded, powerless or worthless because of their colour, ethnicity, culture, faith community, national origin or national status.”  (UK Department for Education 2010: 18).


Academic research confirms racist bullying as involving both verbal and physical abuse. Verma et al. (1994:20), state that Racism and Racist Bullying, “…can take a variety of forms.  It can be personal and direct, as in the case of racist name-calling. It can be social and discriminatory against whole groups. It can be institutional, hampering in perhaps the most insidious way…” Existing research repeatedly asserts that name-calling is the most common form of racist bullying or peer victimization and that being excluded from social groups is also a common form (Kelly and Cohen, 1988; Smith and Shu, 2000; Whitney and Smith, 1993; Veland et al., 2009).


Throughout the implementation of each exercise, teachers should keep referring to the definitions, when and as often as they see fit.



Module Learning Objectives:


1)   To explore power and privilege issues from the perspectives of (i) individuals from MEG and (ii) individuals who are of a Caucasian race.


2)   To identify cultural differences amongst various communities such as; Spanish/Latino; Asian; South Asian; African American communities and consider the socio-economic and geographical factors.


3)   To identify cultural aspects that incites racial stereotypes; racial prejudice; racial violence and harassment in schools and in the community.


4)   To identify systems and structures in schools that may impacts dealing with issues of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, ethnicity, etc.


5)   To discuss ways in which such stereotyping, racial harassment and violence can be eliminated; promoting of mixed race and culture as well as individuals from MEG’s embracing their own culture whilst integrating.



Module One: Learning Objectives (and activities)


  1. Explore what it means to be of a minority ethnic group




Very often members from minority ethnic groups, particularly young people identify themselves as individuals growing up with two cultures, yet feel different to those from a Caucasian race. This includes undergoing daily differences with family life routine to cultural and religious differences. Yet, by and large, young people from minority ethnic groups desire to also blend in with their non-ethnic counterparts. As individuals from minority ethnic groups raised in the US, various issues may arise due to physical and cultural differences.


Module one is aimed for parents, teachers and young people to identify and acknowledge key physical and cultural differences between young people from minority ethnic groups, to those from a Caucasian race with the intention to draw out possible challenges that each may come across.


Key questions to consider during the discussion:


How do individuals from MEG’s perceive themselves at home and then at school and in the community?


What challenges do they face at home and in trying to ‘fit in’ with their white and ethnic counterparts?


How do individuals of a Caucasian race feel amongst mixed ethnic groups, particularly in an environment where they are of the minority? Included/excluded? What factors cause this? Social climate of the school


What challenges do they face and why?


(Activities: Questionnaire – 10 mins

Discussion – 15 mins,


‘The Bag Exercise’ – 30 mins. To allow participants briefly experience rank and privilege, especially economic class.



Module One – Questionnaire


1)   In your home and local community environment, would you agree that there is a fairly vast population made up of minority ethnic groups (MEG’s)?


Not at all ____

Somewhat ____

Agree ____

Strongly agree _____

N/A _____


2)   Who are they?


American Indian or Alaskan Native (not Hispanic or Latino) ____

Hispanic or Latino ____

Asian ___

South Asian ___

Italian American ____

Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (not Hispanic or Latino) ____

White (not Hispanic or Latino) ____

Two or more races (not Hispanic or Latino) ____


3)   Do you identify more with one aspect of your ethnic identity than others in the home?

(a)  Yes ____     No ____

(b)  In school?  Yes ___    No ___


If yes, in what ways?




4)   If any, what challenges are met with growing up in a mixed race environment? (answers may range from food, religion, cultural attitude, dress or any other aspects)




Please explain:





5)   How do you believe your MEG background is perceived by others?





6)   How do you perceive your ethnicity is ranked in order of preference by others?


Quite important? _____

Important? ____

Equal perception? ____

Less important? ____

None at all? ____


7)   What do you believe are the positive aspects of living amongst MEG’s in your home and community location and at school?




8)   As individuals of a Caucasian race, are you in a:


(a)  Minority in your home area and local community? Yes ____/No ____

(b)  Majority in your school? Yes ___/No ___


9)   What, if any challenges do you face at home/at school?  Why?





Thank you for your time in completing this questionnaire!


The Bag Exercise


Give participants a quick experience of rank and privilege, especially economic class

TIME: 10 minutes explanation and play. De-brief can take up to an hour, depending on facilitation purposes.

SPECIAL MATERIALS: Brown paper lunch bags, enough for one for each participant. Packages of small multi-coloured candies (Skittles, M&Ms, Smarties, Goodies, JuJubes, Jelly Beans). 4 larger wrapped chocolates, or 4 mini chocolate bars). Mixed variety of prizes, enough for half the participants (big bag of Chips, large chocolate bar, T-Shirt from your drawer that you no longer use, can of dog food, book off your shelf that you no longer need, ugly knickknack that someone gave you years ago. It is important that the prizes should differ in relative value, so that later prize-winners have less choice and get “worse” prizes.

PREPARATION: Mark the outside of the bags. For a group of 20, give 2 bags a yellow star, 3 bags brown squares and the reminder a green triangle. These markings make it easier to fill the bags, and ensure that the facilitator knows who got which type of bag. Fill bags.
Brown Bags: Leave one bag empty. Put one small candy in the other bag, making sure that it unlike any other candy in the room.
Green Bags: Put 3 or 4 candies in each bag, varying in colour and type, but ensuring that there are other candies of same colour and type in the room.
Yellow Bags: Put the four chocolates in one bag

Put all the extra candies in the other bag, so that it is large and full.

How to do the exercise

Tell participants that the goal of this exercise is to get four candies of the same color and type (for instance, 4 blue Smarties). They will be able to talk during this exercise. Once they have got the four identical candies, they are to come to the front of the room and choose a prize. Ostentatiously display the prizes and show off each one to the group. Ask if there are questions. Give out the bags, asking people not to look into them. I give out the bags randomly, with one exception: if there is someone who is really marginalized in the room, I ensure that they do not get one of the brown bags – that just increases their sense of victimization and isolation. Say “Go” – and people start to trade/cooperate/steal to get the required 4 identical candies. give out prizes as people come forward, being sure to call out their victory loudly (and so put pressure on others)


Possible de-brief questions:

How are you feeling?
* What happened in the exercise?
* What gave some people more power than others in this game? What gives some people more power than others in life? (De-brief on rank and privilege)
* What links do you see to real life?

Expected trends to expect: people with brown bags often “opt out” of exercise. People with yellow bags get their first, and then may think about charity. People with less in their bags notice the disparity in bags; people with more in their bags don’t notice the disparity.

Tool designed by Karen Ridd in Winnipeg, Canada 1999.




Module Two: Learning Objectives (and activities)


  1. Identify cultural differences amongst various communities




It can be viewed that the United States of America consists of the most minority ethnic groups and hence the most culturally diverse than any other country worldwide. The state of New York alone is known to be one of most ethnic diverse than most states. New York City particularly is multicultural. Approximately 36% of the city’s population is foreign-born, one of the highest among US cities. The Ten nations constituting the largest sources of modern immigration to New York City are: Dominican RepublicChinaJamaica, GuyanaMexicoEcuadorHaitiTrinidad and TobagoColombia, and Russia. As of the 2005 consensus, the nine largest ethnic groups in New York City are:

African American, African or CaribbeanPuerto RicansItaliansWest IndiansDominicansChineseIrishRussian, and German. The Puerto Rican population of New York City is the largest outside Puerto Rico  (Wikipedia 2012).


In consideration of the above facts, particularly in New York schools, further consideration must be given to the curriculum that values cultural diversity and that the school responds as effectively as possible to prevent racism. The objective of module two is to enable parents, teachers and children/young people to consider and discuss immediate differences and ways in which they impact upon various neighborhoods.


Key questions to consider during the discussion:


Consider immediate physical differences and relate these to cultural differences e.g., skin color; dress; language; food; religions


In the 5 Boroughs of New York, which communities dominate various Boroughs; neighborhoods?


What are the socio-economic differences?


How do these impact upon community lifestyle and education?


(Activities: ‘My Multicultural Self’ – where conflict can be resolved through awareness, understanding and acceptance and ‘Walking Across the Room’. To increase awareness of ‘others in the group’ as well as increasing awareness in individuals of their own issues around difference

30-40 mins, Resource ‘’ and

‘Diversity Welcome’, ‘’)


My Multicultural Self




In today’s multicultural schools and classrooms, resolving conflict means being culturally aware.



Before endeavoring to develop cultural knowledge and awareness about others, we must first uncover and examine personal social and cultural identities. Guided self-reflection allows us to better understand how social group memberships inform who we are. This exercise is an important vehicle in any peer conflict mediation program to help students embrace the concept of being culturally responsive and culturally sensitive.



  • Students will identify at least 5 facets of their multicultural selves
  • Students will reflect on how any one identity facet shapes the way they view the world
  • Students will understand the many reasons that miscommunication can occur



  • Teacher prepares model of their own identity before presentation
  • Copy of student handout (PDF) for each student (see below)





What is culture? It is a shared system of meanings, beliefs, values and behaviors through which we interpret our experiences. Culture is learned, collective and changes over time. Culture is generally understood to be “what we know that everyone like us knows.”

The following exercise explores the roots of cultural learning by naming aspects of identity important to each individual. It highlights the multiple dimensions of our identities and addresses the importance of self-identification.

Step One

The teacher should complete a handout in advance to serve as a model for students. Use an overhead or simply draw your multicultural self-components on the chalkboard. Example:

Mrs. Fattori
Mother – Teacher – Buddhist – Biracial – Marathon Runner

Share how each of your identity bubbles is a lens through which you see the world. Mrs. Fattori might share, for instance, that when she became a mother she became stronger and more sensitive, stronger for having made and given life as well as knowing she would do anything to protect her child. But she also became more sensitive to young life of all kinds around her, whether it be other children, nature or a student just learning to love a certain academic subject.

Step Two

Distribute a handout to each student and give the following directions: “Place your name in the center figure. Use the identity bubbles to name aspects of yourself that are important in defining who you are.”

Allow students time to silently reflect on what they have written. Invite them to form pairs and share why the descriptors they chose are important to them. If time permits, invite pairs to introduce one another to the class.

For middle school/high school students:
Form small groups around the same or similar descriptors, i.e. daughters, softball players, band member. Discuss similarities and differences among those of the same “group.”

Step Three

Have students reflect on how each individual identity colors and shapes the way they view and interact with the world. The teacher can use her own identity shells to illustrate this concept. Mrs. Fattori, for example, might share how being biracial allows her to be a part of two worlds.

When the teacher is sure that students understand this concept, discuss as a class or in small groups:

  • How would you feel if someone ignored one of your multicultural identity bubbles?
  • Can you see how ignoring one of your identity bubbles could cause miscommunication? Can anyone give an example?
  • Do you have more than these 5 identities?
  • If your 5 identity bubbles are communicating with a group of 5 others, how many identities are interacting? (30 minimum)

Set up the next step by sharing with students that we have many identities in our multicultural selves. Not being aware of our own or others’ identities causes miscommunication.

Step Four

Our identities are NOT static. We are shaped and reshaped by what goes on around us and our identities constantly change as well. Give examples:

  • A parent dies and this reshapes the way we see the world
  • We fall in love and this reshapes the way we see the world
  • We fall out of love and this reshapes the way we see the world
  • We experience an act of violence and this reshapes the way we see the world


So, what we once knew to be true about ourselves and others can change over time. For this reason, we should always try to suspend judgment, ask questions of others and talk with those different from us as much as possible.

Adapted from Ed Change Multicultural Pavilion,


Diversity Welcome


[This opening tool is very adaptable to the group. It can be used to name every ethnic group in the room (over 30 groups!). The objective is to name the range of diversity and welcome it — there’s power in naming.

Past experience in using it is that people may feel like “this is hokey” at the beginning of it — but after five or six rotations people tend to relax and begin to accept the welcoming. ]


“I’d like to welcome…
(and then facilitator names)


  • Women, Men, Transgender People & Spirits
  • Your bodies
  • Specifically name states or provinces represented — pause and invite more input
  • Those living with a chronic medical condition, visible or invisible
  • Dyslexics
  • Your dreams and desires and passions
  • Languages spoken by people here (try to know as many as possible ahead of time): Spanish, English, German . . .
  • Survivors
  • People of Hispanic descent, African descent, Asian descent, European descent
  • gay, lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual, queer
  • People who identify as activists, and people who don’t
  • Those in their teens-20s -30s – 40s – 50s – 60s- 70s – 80s (depending on group)
  • Single, married, partnered, dating, celibate, sexually active
  • Your emotions: joy & blissssssss, grief, rage, indignation, contentment, disappointment
  • Those who support you to be here: Who make it possible
  • Your families
  • Mystics, seekers, believers of all kinds
  • Those dear to us who have died
  • Our elders: Those here in this room, in our lives, and those who have passed away
  • The Spirits of the Delaware and Arrawak, the natives who lived in this area before the Europeans came (find out beforehand)
  • Anyone else who would like to be welcomed?


By Matt Guynn




Module Three: Learning Objectives (and activities)



  1. Identifying cultural aspects that incite racial stereotype, prejudice, violence and harassment in schools and the community




Ethnic diversity consists of different cultural and religious practices that often incite stereotype amongst those who have little understanding of minority ethnic backgrounds. How ‘others’ are perceived by many and how they are treated, depends largely upon the level of exposure, integration followed by an attitude of tolerance and respect. To agree with Gomez, (Quisenberry and McIntyre, 2002; 23), understanding the differences among groups of people will be easier after children and young people have had the opportunity to look at their own families and discuss similarities and differences in everyday routines and then learn about the daily practices of minority ethnic groups. One way that teachers and parents may begin to address this is by identifying everyday practices that all people engage in, while acknowledging that they may do so in different ways. Curriculum activities such as these can help promote intercultural understanding and may well become part of the school curriculum.


Module three is aimed at allowing parents and educators to work with young people to identify all cultural differences, how they can lead to negative perceptions and actions.


Key questions to consider during the discussion:


Provide examples of cultural issues from various ethnic groups that may incite racial stereotype, prejudice, violence and harassments? Such as, accent, dress, food etc.


Why would these incite racism?


What other aspects could incite stereotype and prejudice?


(Activity: ‘Checking on Stereotypes’ 20 mins. Increasing awareness on how easily people are stereotyped and ways to eliminate stereotypical thinking. ‘Defining Multicultural Terminology’ 30 mins. Understanding other cultures, Resource, ‘’)



Checking on Stereotypes



Always guard against the tendency to believe that everyone within a given identity group believes the same way.




  • Students will identify stereotypes they’ve experienced or heard
  • Students will discuss how these stereotypes are not always true
  • Students will identify specific ways to break down stereotypes




  • 3×5 index cards for students


Stereotypes represent a belief or assumed knowledge of an entire group based on an experience with or information about a member or members of that group. It is an easy way of categorizing complex individuals.

Stereotyping often occurs because persistent messages are reinforced by family members, in places of worship, on school campuses and through the media. Stereotyping can be subconscious, where it subtly influences our decisions and actions, even in people who do not want to be biased.

A key component in the development of culturally responsive conflict resolutions models is developing tools to identify and break down stereotyping. Stereotypes can be broken. When we bring people together to open up and honestly share who they are, stereotypes begin to shatter. We discover that other people are not the mental picture created by our stereotype.

Distribute index cards and invite students to write down a stereotype they have heard about themselves or someone close to them.

Shuffle the cards and invite a few students to select one, read it aloud and talk about how they think a person would feel to be stereotyped in that manner.

Close by sharing ways to eliminate stereotypes or by developing class or club pledges where signers commit to ending stereotyping.


Follow-Up Activity

Discussion or writing prompts

1. How did it feel to share a way you have been stereotyped?
2. Did you hear a stereotype shared today that you once bought into? If so, what was it and why did you use it?
3. What are your ideas on eliminating stereotypes?



Defining Multicultural Terminology



It is important to employ many different lessons to encourage students to seek understanding of other cultures.


To this end, an introductory lesson that focuses on identifying, defining and applying multicultural terms allows students to think they know what a word means, only to discover their application of it might be flawed.

To begin, make up a list of multicultural terms. The students are broken into groups of four to six. Each group is given the list of terms and asked to use teamwork to define the words. In groups, share definitions and come to a consensus for each definition. This actively involves everyone in the process.


After agreeing on the definitions, students are given situations that involve one or more of the terms — a situation that illustrates both prejudice and xenophobia, for example, compared with another that illustrates discrimination. These are real-life situations, and students love to “solve” the answer for each one. As a class go over each situation to reach a consensus, this should allow students to begin to feel more confident in their understanding and application of these terms. Students can then go home to search out examples in the newspaper, television or online. The students are required to find at least two articles and defend their choice, in writing, of the terms they applied.


To fully assess the students’ understanding of these terms, use the quick quiz in which they must match the terms to the definitions that all agreed upon.


Terms used:



By Susan C. Hunt, Hampton Public School District
Hampton, N.J.



Module Four: Learning Objectives (and activities)



  1. Identifying systems and structures in schools that may impacts dealing with issues of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, etc.




In order for teachers and parents to identify various support mechanisms that schools employ to combat all forms of prejudice, there is a need to understand government legislation towards bias-based bullying.

The A-832 regulations and Respect for All initiative stipulates that all schools have a mandatory duty to maintain a safe and supportive learning and educational environment that is free from harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying committed by students against other students on account of race, color, creed, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship/immigration status, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability or weight. Such bias-based harassment, intimidation and/or bullying is prohibited.

Bias-based harassment, intimidation and/or bullying is any intentional written, verbal, or physical act that a student or group of students directs at another student or students which:

(1) is based on a student’s actual or perceived race, color, creed, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship/immigration status, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability or weight;


(2) substantially interferes with a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program, school sponsored activity or any other aspect of a student’s education;


(3) creates a hostile, offensive, or intimidating school environment;


(4) substantially interferes with a student’s mental, emotional or physical well-being;

(5) otherwise adversely affects a student’s educational opportunities.


Bias-based harassment, intimidation and/or bullying may take many forms and can be physical, verbal or written. Written harassment, intimidation and/or bullying include electronically transmitted acts, e.g., via Internet, cell phone, personal digital assistant or wireless handheld device.


Such behavior includes, but is not limited, to:

Physical violence;

stalking; threats, taunts, teasing;

aggressive or menacing gestures;

exclusion from peer groups designed to humiliate or isolate;

using derogatory language; furthermore making derogatory jokes or name calling or slurs;

written or graphic material, including graffiti, containing comments or stereotypes that are electronically circulated or are written or printed (NYC Department of Education, A-832 Regulations, pp1-2).


Through a discussion of government legislation on bias-based bullying, Module four allows parents and educators to identify the major problem that occurs in the school. The module should also allow them to reflect upon various ways in which their local school supports victims and young people, identifying any ways in which the system can be improved upon.


Key questions to consider during the discussion:


Does the school pastoral (emotional wellbeing) curriculum cover all issues on discrimination?


How often are they taught in class?


What other support mechanisms are there for pupils?


Do all pupils know whom to contact if an issue of racist bullying arises?


(Activities: bearing all key questions in mind:

Survey-questionnaire, discuss local, state and federal policies/legislation and Respect for All initiative. What challenges do schools face? 30 mins)



Module Four – Questionnaire


1)   Read the current A-832 Anti-bullying/discriminatory legislation and Respect for All initiative. What is the key mission that schools must abide by for pupils?





2)   Understanding the key duty for all schools toward children and young people, does your school include one or more of the following support programs/mechanisms:


Citizenship courses: Yes___ No ___

Anti-bullying curriculum: Yes___ No___

Multicultural education: Yes___ No___

School counselors: Yes___ No___

Peer mentors: Yes___ No___

Pastoral support staff/teachers: Yes___ No___



3)   How well does the school follow the respected duties so stipulated by the A-832 and Respect for All initiative and guidelines?


Excellent: ____

Very well: ____

Satisfactory: ____

Average: ___

Poor: ___


4)   How efficient is the schools own discriminatory policy?


Excellent: ___

Very good: ___

Satisfactory: ___

Average: ___

Poor: ___


5)   Do you believe that incidents of bias-based bullying, including racist stereotype may go un-reported in the school?  Yes ___ No ___


6)   Do you believe in peer mentoring? Yes ___ No ___

Why? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


7)   In which ways do you believe bias-based bullying could be effectively taught in class?



8)   In which ways do you think extra-curricular activities can be used to support victims?


Teaching young people to act as Upstanders and positive role models: Yes___ No___

School counselor: Yes___ No___

Public Outreach workers: Yes___ No___

Any other suggestion:




9)   What major problems do you believe the school may encounter(s) in dealing with reported incidents of bias-based bullying as well as raising awareness?




Thank you for your time in completing this questionnaire




Module Five: Learning Objectives (and activities)



  1. Discuss ways in which stereotyping, racial harassment and violence can be eliminated; promote mixed race and culture, pride and confidence in MEG’s whilst they integrate.




Assessing the relationships with peers, as well as with teachers/school staff are key to understanding what, if any, forms of stereotyping, prejudice, harassment and violence may occur. In which ways would teachers consider raising awareness to young people against stereotyping and prejudice?


It could be suggested that implementing a multicultural curriculum would be an effective force to rid of cultural sensitivity. Prior to presenting children and young people with multicultural issues, it is important to be prepared that all activities are safely and responsibly conducted as well as allowing young people to be able to explore their thoughts and perceptions concerning the issues being presented. Furthermore, the teacher should become culturally synchronized with students in order for the teachers to understand the cultural repertoire of their classroom and work towards expanding their own cultural horizons…i.e. learning from each other is beneficial to all. A further suggestion would be that the teacher should ensure that the culture of the classroom is reflective of the students’ cultures, relationships, becoming familiar not only with the demography represented by the students, but also with issues that may arise and ways in which young people can support each other. This can be supported by the teacher creating an atmosphere that integrates multicultural issues into the curriculum, rather than presenting isolated cases in which students are exposed to such issues. (Mattai, 2002; 28) These suggestions provide an idea of the complexities that can arise when addressing issues of diversity.


Module five is aimed at teachers’ brain storming ideas and perceptions with young people. Through working together on activities, conclude with policies and support mechanisms in order to eliminate racial stereotype and prejudices as well as promote confidence and pride in ethnic difference and diversity.



Key questions to consider during the discussion:


Is my school doing all it can to effectively deal with race, class, gender, etc?


What is the parent-pupil, teacher-pupil relationship like in my school?


Are we as young people effectively taught to become mentors, upstanders and encouraged to report an adult if we witness an incident?


Can young people confide in adults at our school?


How much under-reporting really exists? – Little, none, moderate, severe?


What multicultural activities take place? Would like to see take place?


(Activities: ‘Getting Started: Respected Exercise’ (20 mins); ‘Developing a multicultural curriculum’ – ‘Name Stories’ (20 mins) ‘Take a Stand for Others’ (20-30 mins) Allow students to defend their stance for themselves and others against racism.


‘’ ‘’


‘’ & ‘’




Getting Started: Respect Activity (Introductory Level)

Ask everyone to find someone in the room who they do not know. Instruct them to introduce themselves to that person, and spend five to ten minutes talking about respect. What does it mean for you to show respect, and what does it mean for you to be shown respect? After the allotted time, ask the participants to return to their seats, and open the discussion. What ideas did people discuss?

Common responses include the “Golden Rule,” looking somebody in the eyes, being honest, and appreciating somebody’s ideas even when you do not agree with them. Each of these responses offers interesting points of reflection. They each are informed culturally and hegemonically. So once people have returned to the big group for processing the activity, be sure to inquire where people’s notions of “respect” come from and who those notions serve and protect. Does everybody really want to be treated the way you want to be treated? Is it respectful in every culture to make eye contact with whoever is speaking? What if somebody’s ideas are oppressive–should we still respect them? And to whose benefit? It is important to mention that respect is a crucial ingredient in any discussion, but especially in a discussion of often-controversial issues such as racism, sexism, and economic injustice. The point is to learn from our differences–to understand each other’s understanding. The point is not to agree. But the point, as well, is to reflect critically on our assumptions and socializations around the concept of respect.

This activity touches many bases. First, it starts the crucial path toward building a community of respect. This is the first step in maintaining a constructive exchange regarding issues related to equity and social justice. At the most basic level, participants meet someone they did not know and exchange ideas with that person. Second, the community is built through an understanding of how the group perceives respect and how we negotiate its meaning. Third, the similarities and differences in participants’ ideas about respect begin to show the first signs of similarities and differences within the group on a larger level, often in ways that reflect power and privilege.  (approx. 20 mins)



Exchanging Stories—Name Stories

Preparing and Assigning:

Ask participants to write short (one or two page) stories about their names. Leave the assignment open to individual interpretation as much as possible, but if asked for more specific instructions, suggest some or all of the following possibilities for inclusion in their stories:

  • Who gave you your name? Why?
  • What is the ethnic origin of your name?
  • What are your nicknames, if any?
  • What do you prefer to be called?

Encourage students to be creative. In the past, some have written poetry, included humor, and listed adjectives that described them etc. Be sure to let them know that they will be sharing their stories with the rest of the class.

Facilitator Notes:

In order to ensure that everybody has an opportunity to share her or his story, break into diverse small groups of five or six if necessary. Give participants the option either to read their stories or to share their stories from memory. Ask for volunteers to share their stories.

Points to remember:

  1. Because some individuals will include very personal information in their stories, some may be hesitant to read them, even in the small groups. It is sometimes effective in such situations for facilitators to share their stories first. If you make yourself vulnerable, others will be more comfortable doing the same.
  2. Be sure to allow time for everyone to share, whether reading their stories or sharing them from memory.
  3. When everyone has shared, ask participants how it felt to share their stories. Why is this activity important? What did you learn?

Sample- My Personal Name Story:

According to my mother, “Paul” means “small”. When I say that to other folks, they tell me it doesn’t mean “small,” though no one seems to know what it means.

My parents wanted to name me “Cameron.” “Paul” goes back three or four generations, I’m not sure which. My father and his father and his father are all named “Paul.” But my mother liked “Cameron,” so “Cameron” it was. But then I was born…five weeks prematurely. I was a tiny baby. I was the itsy-bitsiest baby in the new baby room at the hospital. According to my mother, that was a sign. Remember, “Paul” means “small”.

So I am Paul Cameron Gorski. My father is Paul Peter Gorski. The exception, of course, is when someone calls my parents’ home for one of us. At that point we become Big Paul and Little Paul, the father Paul and the son Paul, or the older one and the younger one (my Dad doesn’t appreciate that one too much). Sometimes people call and I’m too exhausted to explain to them the whole idea that there are two Pauls living in one house, so I just pretend to be Paul Peter, and give my Dad the message later. He doesn’t seem to mind that, especially when the caller is trying to sell us something. Still, I hope he doesn’t do the same thing.

Paul lends itself well to rhyming nicknames. Bill, a good friend of mine, calls me “Tall Paul”. He does so sarcastically, usually after blocking one of my shots in a basketball game. I often have to remind him that the whole irony of that nickname is that, according to my mother, “Paul” means “small,” which is very nearly the opposite of “tall.” In high school, I was often called “Paul Mall” in reference to a brand of cigarettes, because, as they said, my ball handling skills were smokin’. And again, the irony is that generally the small players have better ball handling skills.

The truth of the matter is that I really don’t know whether or not “Paul” means “small”. Perhaps it means “Jedi warrior” or “sunflower” or “career student”. No matter. I’ve never looked it up, and never will. According to my Mom, “Paul” means “small.” That sounds good to me.

Paul C. Gorski, 1995-2012  (approx. 20 mins).




Take a Stand


Level: Grades 6 to 8; Grades 9 to 12


This six-step activity prompts students to defend their stance on a topic


Exploring controversial issues relevant to the curriculum and students’ personal lives is a continuing challenge. Use the Take-A-Stand structure to employ a six-step activity to prompt students both to choose and defend their stands on a topic. This will help students to develop a sense of voice and identity, while also engaging in class discussion and the writing process.


Read the anti-racist poems (see below) and discuss issues related to a given theme.


Students complete a seven-to-ten minute quick-write in which they express their ideas in response to the main theme of each poem.


Students engage in a discussion in which they share their ideas and learn those of others. All points are charted and copied by the class.


Using the information compiled through the discussion, students write a persuasive short essay (no more than 2 pages) that includes an argument and three supporting ideas chosen from the class chart.


Pose the most essential questions raised in the reading of the poems. Make participation in discussion of controversial topics optional. Encourage students to use details from their own lives as well as synthesized knowledge from the class exercise.


Once all students have had a chance to speak, allow them time to reflect on their new ideas regarding the topic through either writing or art. By the end of this activity, students should have a greater understanding of the issues evoked by the poems.


Eric Eisner
University High School
Los Angeles, Calif.




Hey, what’s the story and what’s the crack?
I am white and you are black.
God made me and God made you,
Respect is what we got to do.
We cut our fingers, we bleed the same,
Different colours but different names.
We have things in common,
We like fun and games,
We run, we jump, we hop and skip,
And let no bad words pass our lips.
Because respect is what we got to do,
Repect from me and respect from you.
If you are being slagged because of your hair colour
or the colour of your skin or your language, don’t try
to slag them back and hurt their feelings.
Just say you’re proud, move on and find new meanings.

By Conor



I go to school in Tallaght
And Darragh is my name
My classmates come in different colours,
But our hearts are all the same.

When I’m in the yard and hear
The bullies call children names,
Just because they’ve different skin,
It shows they have no brains.

Black, yellow white and brown,
We all should take a stand,
Say ‘NO’ to racism in Erin’s Isle,
And the world will be just grand.

By Darragh



You may also like...

Popular Posts