As educators, we have the responsibility of teaching our students not only important knowledge but important skills that they need to be global citizens. The skills our children leave with will be essential not just to their work but to the communities they are a part of. We teach our students not just to better them but to provide our world with the future makers it needs.
Around the world, teachers are seeking ways to better embed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into their curriculums, lessons, and classrooms to send our students out into their communities with open hearts, open minds, and robust empathy when encountering difference. Finding ways to make DEI an organic and impactful part of our classroom can feel challenging. This is because it is often approached through lessons based on the acquisition of knowledge. For example, lessons centered on a specific figure, religious event, or culture. However, if we ignore the role of skills alongside knowledge, then this leaves teachers feeling like they haven’t properly taught DEI if some knowledge is not covered. This is impossible to do.
We have the perfect opportunity already present in our curriculums. Topic or IPC, the name can change, focuses on blending together knowledge and skills that we want our children to have. However, when we chose Ancient Rome as a topic, we are not saying that this is the most essential time period to know about. What we are in fact stating is that the study of history is about the skills you learn. Studying any time period is beneficial as long as it is done with the transferable skills needed to be a historian. The teaching of DEI has these transferable skills. We need our students to be able to use empathy. We need them to be able to make connections with others. We need them to notice when things need changing, and we need them to know they can make change.
When choosing a topic, ask yourself 4 key questions. Will the students have the chance to empathize with other people or opinions in this topic? Will children discuss how to make connections with others? Will the children be exposed to events or events that include injustice or unfairness so they can develop looking for when change is needed? Will the topic give them a chance to make some change, so they learn they have impetus.
I strongly believe that focusing on these skills is what is key to choosing a topic and to embedding DEI more powerfully into your classroom. You can select from a huge range of historical events, cultures, geographical locations, themes, etc. That is the beauty of the world- the things to learn about are endless. However, if you allow your students the chance to interact with these 4 skills in their history topics, in their geography topics, in their technology topics, you will make our students more ready for their communities. A topic where children learn to tackle the environment will teach them these skills. However, these skills will be ready for the students to use when they meet new people, new cultures, differences, and different point of views as well.
Year 3 Leader & Teacher