As an educator, you often come across some rather tricky subjects. Tackling issues like sexism, racism and general bigotry can be incredibly challenging. When teaching this to younger children, a particularly creative approach is needed.
Teaching children to be ‘tolerant’ (Or Acceptance/Open-mindedness as I prefer to call it) at its simplest level, is about knowing, understanding and appreciating that while we’re all different, yet the same.
I’ve seen some great demonstrations of this. The most commonly used one is to put jelly babies in water, and watch as their colour drops off, reminding children that while we humans may look different on the outside, underneath it all, we’re all ‘cut from the same cloth.’ This is a brilliant technique for teaching acceptance and understanding of our differences, especially for younger children.
Personally, I’m a fan of the opposite approach: exploring our differences. Years ago, I found myself mesmerized by a post on Bored Panda, showing photographs of sand magnified 300 times under a microscope.
Here’s some of Dr. Gary Greenberg’s microscopic sand photography photography from www.sandgrains.com
I dare you not to be amazed by this!
I’ve used this picture as a lesson starter or talking point so many times. Children and adults alike are often amazed when I break the news that this actually just grains of sand.
These photographs are a fantastic vehicle for the message: even though we may look similar, every person is different and unique.
Every single person on the planet is held together by a personal mix of genetics, life experiences, thoughts, beliefs, values and actions. Everyone is different.
And just look at how beautiful that is.
I find it really useful to think about this when someone lets you down or doesn’t meet your expectations in some way. When this happens, I like to remind myself that we are all different, and that my expectations of what this person should have done/said/behaved like, might not be in line with their own. Their values might be in a different order to mine.
With this mindset, it’s much easier to be forgiving. It’s much easier to let go of judgement and resentment and the need to be ‘right’; and just enjoy the differences between us.
Have you seen these sand grains before? Are you as impressed as I am? Thoughts welcome: