Why Should Children be Carefully Taught?
Several stories related to racial discrimination and abuse have dominated the news headlines in the United States. While cultural and racial diversity is seen to be the real force behind the success story of the United States, incidences of discrimination along racial or ethnic lines are commonplace in the American schools. Even though many people think that the tendency of American teachers (such as Laura) to teach children various elements of cultural diversity in schools is positive, I strongly agree with Susan Brady Konig that such a practice can easily bring out the differences among the young learners (even if done in a positive manner) thus could lead to separation and even racism in the American schools particularly preschools.
In the article, “They’ve Got to be Carefully Taught,” Konig, reveals how her preschool daughter Sarah was made aware of differences between her and her classmates during Cultural Diversity Month at her preschool. Despite the fact that Miss Laura’s intention was to teach children more about differences in major cultures of the world, clear pointing out of physical and cultural differences among the children on the basis of their nationality promote racism. It is sheer pity that young children who have not even developed full command of language, are forced to understand that their hair, skin and eye colors are different because of their varying nationality and racial backgrounds. Suffice it to say, the teaching approach used by the teacher (Miss Laura) to teach children various concept of cultural diversity is definitely wrong.
Miss Laura taught children including Susan’s little daughter about what makes them different from one another. The pre-school Cultural Diversity Day raises children awareness that their skin color, hair color, the way they cook and eat foods and the manner in which they celebrate occasions differ significantly across their ethics. Consequently, the young children grow up knowing so well that they are different from each other depending on the countries where their ancestors came from. Konig is fully convicted that information is not only too much for her little daughter to understand but it also causes serious confusion in her mind. As explained byKonig, the preschool children are quite tender in age and have not attained cognitive maturity to understand the basic concepts of color as well as nationality.
The simple act of telling children that they come from different cultural backgrounds and that they come from different nationalities is a viable breeding ground for negative racism in its own rights. When these children grow up, they are already aware that they are intrinsically different and that the superficial bonds of the American patriotism cannot bind the American citizens together despite that they are all New Yorkers.
Most imperatively, Konig’s main concern is that emphasizing differences may create separation and a serious drift between children from different races in American schools. “The school administrations are at the forefront in documentation of critical information about ancestry, nationality, eye and skin colors- a phenomenon that truly precipitates racism” (Gary 2009). Gary further asserts that showing differences rather than concentrating on similarities may tear the unity of this nation down the middle along the racial lines. What then could the civil society do to avert the declaration of racism in schools in the future times? The answer to this crucial question is not only found in the educational institutions but the entire civic society at large. Teachers focus their efforts telling preschool children about the present American cultures devoid of their ancestral cultures since they are all New Yorkers. In this way, the preschoolers will be obliged to view one another as fellow Americans.
The school management must come to the realization that sensitizing preschool on their differences shook the national integration of various cultures within the United State to its core. Educational curriculum should be carefully designed to ensure that young children for instance narrator’s daughter are properly educated on the cultural diversity since there is more to this than just mere physical and cultural differences amongst them. In the actual sense, patriotism and racial should form then mantra of preschool education. Rather than putting too much emphasis on the divisive aspects of cultural diversity, the children should be taught to understand that they all belong to one great nation: the United States of America. To the liking of the author, the only important thing that teachers, the caliber of Miss Laura, ought to instill in children right from their preschool times is that they are all Americans and will continue to live together as equal citizens of the state. To this effect, I strongly agree with Konig that cultural diversity should be taught in the right context and that teachers should concentrate on common similarities rather than differences in their teachings.
Even though Konig is categorical that American children learn cultural diversity through their ancestral cultures and physical differences from the tender age, there is more to it that could meet the eye. Promoting individual difference among preschool children in the name of cultural diversity by the teacher is fortuitous because the teacher never intended to separate children on the basis of their cultural differences. For this reason, much precaution must be exercised while teaching cultural diversity. Fully aware that teachers, parents and children are direct products of nature and that they are just but a blank slate on which the nature writes, the concept of cultural diversity should be changed. Besides other members of the civil society, they are under an obligation to stand out and prove to the younger generations that their relationships and social interactions transcend far above their respective races and color to the liberalities of their greater nation.
In conclusion, Konig has done a commendable in her article as far as tracing the possible errors and misconceptions that could arise from the improper teaching of cultural diversity tot eh preschool children. The concept of cultural diversity which is the wholesome way of life for all groups of American citizens is grossly reduced by the teacher, Miss Laura, to mere differences in physical attributes such as eye, skin color, the country where their ancestors came from and eating habits. This narrow perception underscores the purpose of cultural diversity in the U.S. In the right context, cultural diversity should bring about homogeneity and equality of all cultures as well as their members across the United States without incriminating any one of them or their corresponding representatives. It is apparent that racism is actively taught to preschool children by Miss Laura who thinks she is promoting cultural diversity, yet she is inadvertently promoting racism. This explains why children must be carefully taught the actual concept of cultural diversity if at all racism has to be annihilated.
They’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught is a perfect choice of title for the story by Konig because it discloses how cultural diversity should constructively be taught to children in the total absence of unnecessary cultural and religious prejudices. The title literally means that children must be carefully taught cultural diversity without any prejudice and misunderstanding.