The children were already familiar with the themes of racism after studying apartheid in South Africa through the novel ‘Journey to Joburg’’ and Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech in Year 5. However, most did not realise it was still such a real-world problem. The aim of this lesson therefore was to help students make sense of what they have been hearing and to reiterate how important it is for us, as global citizens, to act with respect to all others despite our differences – a core element of our Aide Memoire that underpins our teaching and learning here at BIS HCMC.
“It was so interesting to hear what the children knew about the situation and to see their surprise at the reality of what life is like for people of colour in the US. They were very engaged and mostly expressed surprise, shock and frustration. They couldn’t really understand how this was still happening in the world.” Carli continues; “I tried to give the children as much opportunity to speak as possible - to share their knowledge, experiences, and questions. I then continuously linked their comments back to the Aide Memoire, especially the values of respect, integrity and care. ‘Be Kind’ is one of our class expectations, so we spoke about how we could be kind to others. The children understand these concepts well but they may not always realise that these concepts are not always extended to everyone in the world. This is one reason why such lessons are so important.”
Discussing topics in the news also provides a great opportunity to teach our children about the presence of media bias, the need to read widely and not take everything we first see and hear as the truth: “I was aware that there could be some misunderstanding depending on the children’s media sources. As an example, lots were focused on the looting aspect of the protests so we spoke about why these might get more ‘air time’ than the peaceful protesters and why the media is mostly portraying these people as ‘bad’ without actually speaking about the reasons why they might be looting such as historical factors of oppression and poverty. I therefore think teaching children digital literacy skills is so important in today’s climate. Children are online consuming news and content more than ever and most do not have the skills to be critical about what they see.”