Teaching Pluralist Perspective in the Classroom
Because so many students in American schools are from other cultures it is important for teachers to help all students develop a pluralist perspective. This perspective teaches students to respect people from other cultures, religions, and people of other races and genders. Students learn that the differences between people are not problems and that they need to learn to work together as one. Students need to understand that we are all the same. Just some people have different beliefs or background. Pen pals, memory wall or quilt and cultural discussion are ways to help students develop a pluralist perspective.
Having a pen pal from another county is one way for students to learn and understand other cultures. Students exchange letters with other kids from all over the world and all backgrounds. They tell each other about their homes and what life is like for them where they live. This promotes a sense of empathy for those who are not as fortunate and an understanding of where they come from.
Have the students create a wall of memories or a quilt. This project begins with reading the book The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco. In the book Anna and her family make a quilt that reminds them of their home in Russia. After reading the book students can draw a picture or find one on the internet that reminds them of their home country, culture or a part of their life that is special to them. These pictures can be placed on the bulletin board for all to see or they can be made into a special quilt. The students can decide what they want to do with the quilt once it is complete. Through this activity the students learn what is special to each one of them. They form an understanding of one another and where they come from.
Another way to teach pluralist perspective is to have a class discussion every day about a different culture or race. The class can pick a topic the day before and then each of them find something about that topic to discuss the next day. They can use their background knowledge, books or the internet. They can also ask their parents. For this to be most beneficial make sure that they pick a topic that relates to their classroom. If one of the students came here from Germany or has ancestors form Germany then Germany is an excellent topic. This is way for students to understand and relate to each other.
The most important thing teachers need to remember when they helping students develop a pluralist perspective is that they are classmates and each has a story to tell.
Picture by Flickr
About Kim Miller
I am a single mom of two sons, 15 and 18 years old. I also have an 8 month old grandson. I recently earned my BA in Elementary Education and am working toward an MA in Elementary Education. I love working with children and watching them learn.