In a society that is getting more fragmented by the day, finding a place where diversity does not incite senseless bullying and severe repercussions is difficult. It often starts when children or young adults notice such differences and start to believe that people of different ethnicity, race, religion, gender, etc., do not belong. This results in them responding aggressively, and the cycle rarely stops even as they transition into adulthood.
So, how can we eradicate bigotry? Where can we begin implementing this change? In schools, of course! Young adults can learn more than just academic knowledge in schools. They can also embrace strong moral values and diversity and inclusion that can create a lasting positive impact.
Here are some ways you can start inciting this change in your school.
Introduce Student Forums
Ask yourself, is there a channel through which students feel comfortable opening up? If the answer is no, now is the time to start. Introducing student forums can be an effective way of inspiring compassion and active listening among both the students and the staff alike. The director should oversee the forum to ensure that it is a safe space for students from various backgrounds to speak freely.
The conversation should not be one-sided, as students should get a chance to ask questions from the staff regarding promoting diversity and their backstories, signifying how they might have felt belittled or shunned at the expense of their racial, religious, or sexual orientation. You should ensure it is a no-judgment zone and that every student gets a chance to participate actively.
Appoint Someone To Oversee The Change
Every campaign requires a person to steer the ship and take charge while keeping track of all the awareness sessions and events. They can map out various ideas regarding such activities to get students to participate actively and display interest in the development program.
Appointing a director of diversity and inclusion can also help introduce and implement specific policies and practices regarding the treatment of diverse individuals in the school. It can help lower bullying, as students will understand the punishment to be meted out if they are caught with such disgraceful behavior.
Highlight Aspirational Role Models
Throughout the ages, numerous people have stepped up to make a name for themselves by committing positive acts that garnered them fame and attention. Though their ultimate purpose might not have been to gain worldwide attention, it can be wielded to educate students that all classes of people are equally capable.
Teachers can start by including examples of famous athletes, politicians, activists, musicians, celebrities, and historical figures in classrooms while relaying an academic point. Additionally, you can decorate the school with paintings of these notable figures and hang them in corridors with plaques that mention who they are and their remarkable contributions to society. It would be even better to let students partake in this process by allowing them to paint their heroes throughout the ages and highlighting their meaningful art.
Involve Families And Communities
Schools alone cannot influence a student’s perspective. Families have a massive hand in shaping it too. Hence, it will be easier to help them embrace diversity with their families onboard. You can invite them to join certain activities in the school, which can create a learning experience for them and help them bond further with their children.
Once the community gets involved with the campaign, they may find it significant enough to start holding events outside the school as well. Members of the community belonging to diverse backgrounds may also want to hold a session in the school as guest speakers and speak about their experiences while helping students understand why this change must start from them.
Start Hiring Teachers From Diverse Backgrounds
If we narrow it down to the US, the statistics extracted from federal data show that 81.6% of teachers are white, while only 6.8% belong to the black community. This shows that the change cannot only be implemented among students. It must also start with you. It would help if you actively strived to hire teachers from different backgrounds. It can help them feel more included in the community, and they can significantly contribute to your diversity campaign as well.
Moreover, students who feel timid due to their differences may find it easier to relate and communicate more openly with such teachers, as they might understand their experiences more deeply. It can also bring in new teaching styles that students may appreciate.
Find Ways To Track Progress
Issues pertaining to diversity and inclusion cannot be solved in a couple of days alone. It needs time and consistent dedication to the cause. Hence, schools must find ways to measure the performance of the development program and ensure that its efforts do not falter after a while.
A notable way to track progress is by utilizing engagement surveys. You can include various questions about inclusion, and students can answer their perspectives honestly. Collecting these results over time can help you set a standard benchmark and compare the responses to understand if there has been improvement or deterioration regarding perceptions about diversity.
Introduce Themed Weeks
Considering there are a plethora of different points to shed light on regarding diversity, you can highlight them all individually one by one. Themed weeks can be both educational and fun for all the students. If the week’s theme is Indian, students can set up stalls with Indian food and dress in traditional Indian clothes, and teachers can tell them about the Indians’ contributions to history.
Similarly, there are several other topics you can host theme weeks for. They may include disability, LGBT, various communities, and even languages for which you can hold fun trivia, which could help students delve deeply into multiple cultural perspectives.
Play Inclusive Games
The best way to get through to students is through an activity they can enjoy, namely games. However, there can be a fun twist, as the games will also cater to people with disabilities. That includes people who are visually or physically impaired or have auditory impairments. It can help disabled students feel more involved while others can take a peek at the difficulties they must face every day.
The Bottom Line
Diversity and inclusion are gaining much-deserved traction in an increasingly fragmented world. This change should be implemented in schools to help young adults embrace different cultures, races, sexual orientations, and religious backgrounds to carry it forward to their workplace and future generations. It should be reverberated both through students and teachers alike to make everyone feel included and highlighted.