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“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and test of our civilization” – Mahatma Gandhi. Click to Tweet This!

So, by now I’m sure you’ve heard the latest about the events this past week here in Barcelona:

A deadly terror attack that killed 13 people, including a 3 year old and a 7 year old child, and injured hundreds. Hundreds more barely escaping by running through shops and side streets.  A van, driven by an 18 or 22 year old, deliberately running over people. A smaller, but also deadly attack in Cambrils, where one woman was killed and 6 injured.

You might be wondering:

How can stand united?  How can we teach tolerance and diversity in our classrooms, to our students, and how can we practice this ourselves? Today’s post is about exactly that.

 

Unity & Diversity: We Are Not Afraid – or Are We?

Well, what is unity? Standing together. How can we do this?  Well, I have to say that the people of Barcelona came together quickly after the attacks, holding rallies chanting “We’re not afraid” in Catalan, and holding signs in Catalan and Spanish.

The memorials are impressive, with flowers and teddy bears and candles, right in the heart of the city and tourist centre. The news is depressing, as eyewitness accounts and videos run on the Catalan tv all day. People screaming in terror, bodies, people who tried to help and watched others die. It’s heartbreaking.

Perspectives on the Barcelona Attacks

Actually, people have held a variety of events to honour the victims – a mass at the Sagrada Familia,  peace demonstrations, a “free hugs” hour to comfort people.

So, you may be wondering:

Are people really fearless?

In fact, even this morning, Barcelona police found a suspicious backpack and evacuated a shopping center nearby (it was a false alarm, thankfully). Can we really say fearless?

Personally, I can’t say I’m “not afraid”, but yes, I do believe we need to stand together in unity.

In response to the attacks, people have been writing many newspaper articles, blogs, tweets and posts about how they’re not afraid.   Well, this particular article by Najat El Hachmi says “Me? Yes, I’m Afraid”.  In fact, she doesn’t consider racism or teaching diversity to be the first item we need to consider.  Since the article is in Spanish, you may not be able to read it (sorry!), but I had to mention it because it is a really great point. She says, what we need to be afraid of is the totalitarian ideology that is growing and radicalizing our youth. 

Want to know the best part?:

Maybe we can teach this in our schools. Perhaps teachers can play a role in openess to other cultures and give the radical organizations less power. What do you think?

 

3 Ways To Teach Diversity  & Tolerance

So, if you got my email last week, you’ll have seen my top three tips for teaching diversity. However, I wanted to elaborate a little and hopefully foster some great ideas (from all of you!) in the discussion below.

1) Teach A Lesson About Stereotypes 

Education World has a post about ways to teach school middle and high school students about stereotypes. Actually, I believe that teaching students about bullying is also important. Why do people bully others? How can we stop it? These are lessons students need to be taught and can foster so much discussion in class, even with adults.

2) Encourage Cultural Diversity & Sharing

Have students make a presentation about traditions, holidays or customs from their cultures. This works especially well for English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. Actually, I’ll never forget the “heritage days” we had in elementary school in Canada, where every student brought a traditional dish from their culture. Embracing diversity is beautiful.

3) Teach Lessons About Role Models

Malala, the education rights activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban, is the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner. Having students learn more about her would make a great project. Of course, there are SO many others, like Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, etc.  You may be surprised that your students know very little about these famous figures. I’ve had students write reports and be quite impressed with their stories.

In fact, I love #3 so much that in my upcoming Teachers Pay Teachers store (coming soon!!!), I will have a series of lesson plans for teaching diversity and tolerance.

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Happy Teaching!

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P.S. Photo fans, the photo for today’s post (and poster!) is one I took in Blanes, on the Costa Brava here in Spain last summer.


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