Eliminate Stereotypes in the Classroom ECE 405: Children and Families in a Diverse Society Eliminate Stereotypes in the Classroom Stereotypes are all around us and they occur on a regular basis. They exist in our workplace, at home and in schools. Stereotypes have a “powerful influence on children’s perceptions of reality” (York, 2006, pg. 151). As educators it is essential that we encourage an anti-bias classroom environment by implementing material in the classroom that reflects multiculturalism and diversity.
According to Stacey York, “many commercial teaching materials are outright stereotypical” (York, 2006, pg. 152). In the classroom, there are many things that teachers can do in order to help eliminate stereotypes in the classroom. At such a young age, children pick up behaviors, attitudes and beliefs from adults. Adults set the example for young children and help build the foundation for life-long beliefs, values and attitudes. Toddlers are “sensitive and catch feelings from adults” (York, 2006, pg. 15).
If a child is in a classroom where the teacher is implementing prejudice attitudes or implementing stereotypical material, the children will pick up on these attitudes towards other students and will be easily influenced by other educators as well. As an educator, one can prevent stereotypes by promoting social skills and social action. This can be done by finding classroom materials that encourage children to engage in pro-social skills and social action by displaying a peace pledge or kindness pledge. Steps can be created for children in order to resolve nonviolent conflict with another.
A bulletin board can also be created that is dedicated to recognizing people in the classroom, school, and local community who are working towards making a difference in social change (York, 2006, pg. 153). Photographs and posters of individuals working towards social change can also be put around the classroom and on the bulletin board. Introducing the children to diversity by adding materials that reflect the home cultures of the children in the classroom can help get the students interested in multiculturalism and diversity.
Removing any material that is not culturally relevant and stereotypic materials in the classroom can help students gain a better understanding and appreciation for diversity. Adding materials that represent diversity present in the local community and in the United States can also be useful. Various interest centers in the classroom can help eliminate stereotypes by engaging children in a diverse setting with multicultural material. For example, the music area “offers children a chance to experiment with and enjoy a variety of music and allows teachers to teach children songs with simple words and melodies from other cultures.
These songs encourage differences, acceptance and cooperation” (York, 2006, pg. 157-58). In the dramatic play area children act out every day experiences, play out their perceptions of the world, try on adult roles, and explore relationships among people. Dramatic play area also encourages cooperative play and children are able to gain a sense of the lifestyles that are available to them (York, 2006, pg. 158). Stereotypes can be eliminated by children gaining a sense of appreciation for diversity and being able to explore a variety of lifestyles, including family systems, economic class, disability, and culture.
Children are also able to play roles of people of different ages, skills and occupations. Material used in the dramatic play area should include multiethnic dolls that are dressed in nonstereotypic play clothes and international meal sets that allow the children to see and explore the different utensils, food and produce used in other countries. Multicultural children’s books can help eliminate stereotypes in the classroom. This material can be used by teachers to introduce culture and diversity. Books that connect children to their home culture are books that should be chosen.
Children need to see themselves and their lives reflected through literature. These books help children identify with and feel proud of their home culture (York, 2006, pg. 163). If a book is read that judges the student’s culture, this could cause other students to ridicule peers or later stereotype a person based on the views from the author. Books read to the students should promote confidence in self-identity within a cultural context and should encourage the class in learning together about others.
In order to prevent students from picking up stereotypes from literature, it is critical that teachers do not use books that could become problematic and are associated with stereotypes of other cultures. This could influence children’s perceptions of reality. The goal of the teacher in a diverse classroom is to increase use of materials and books that reflect in nonstereotypical ways to children and adults of color as well. Images should accurately reflect ethnic groups in the community and in U. S. ociety in a variety of different work and recreational situations. People of various backgrounds should be shown doing work and engaging in recreational pursuits with their families, not as dependent and passive (Rodriguez, 1998). The world is changing every day. We must learn to accept and get along with all cultures, races, and religions in order to become productive citizens of the world. It is our job as teachers to prepare our students for the real world, and the real world is a multicultural one (Pre-KPages.
Com, 2010). By doing this, teachers can help eliminate stereotypes in the classroom. References: Pre-KPages. Com. (2010). Multicultural Classroom. Retrieved from, http://www. pre-kpages. com/multicultural/. Rodriguez, G. (1998). Critical Issue: Meeting the Diverse Needs of Young Children. Retrieved from, http://www. ncrel. org/sdrs/areas/issues/students/earlycld/ea400. htm York, S. (2006). Roots & wings: Affirming Culture in Early Childhood Programs. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc.