Too often our only lens of a person, a race, or a culture is from a single story.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns, “ the single story creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete.” And, “the consequence of a single story is that it robs people of dignity… emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.”
Today was day 2 of our Cultural Proficiency Cohort at my school. I continue to be challenged in my thinking and at times overwhelmed by the realization of the inequities that exist in our country and in our schools. Inequities that exist for various reasons that need to be acknowledged. Biases that need to be challenged and many stories that need to be told. Change that begins from within…
As I reflect, many questions race through my mind. How do we as educators ensure that our own biases are addressed and our students many stories are understood? How do we help our students to also recognize and understand the many stories we each possess so that we don’t flatten a person or group of people’s life experiences?
Our training has given me a lot to chew on but the answers are not always obvious and they are definitely not easy. My biggest take away from this training is that we must first become aware of our own biases… acknowledgement and awareness comes through reflection and discussion of our own stories that form the lens in which we see the world.
Many adults may never see the world through others’ eyes… their lens narrow and focused on the negative stereotypes portrayed in the media. Yet, I believe more than ever that we must provide our youth opportunities to see the world through various lenses. Children are the hope our world needs desperately.
Therefore, we MUST be intentional in our interactions with our children and their families. Acknowledge differences. We can’t be blind to the things that make each student unique albeit their culture, their abilities, or their personal stories. Yet we must also be intentional in our lesson planning and instructional delivery to create classrooms and schools that are culturally proficient and celebrate how we are alike as well.
I have a new sense of understanding of cultural and even human awareness but I am far from competent. If you have not seen Adichie’s TED talk, I highly recommend it if you want to become more aware and understand “The Danger of a Single Story.”