On this past week, we have been learning about physical abilities and physical characteristics, and race and ethnicity. People who show ableism has prejudice and discriminates against those who have emotional, developmental, physical and mental disabilities (Laureate Education Inc., 2011). Racism and ethnocentrism is discrimination towards a person because of their skin color or ethnic background (Laureate Education Inc., 2011).
I remember a time when I got a phone call from my son’s teacher about a month or so ago. I thought to myself, what has he done now? Well the teacher began to let me know that they were working on inclusion in the classroom with children with physical abilities and physical characteristics. On this particular day a little boy was in his class, and the young boy had some developmental delays and he would drool from the mouth. Well my son evidently thought it was funny to pick on this little boy and said “ill he nasty because he keeps spitting from his mouth” and he was making fun of the little boy who could not help himself. The teacher told me that she told him that it was not nice and that, we do not talk about our friends like that. I was asked to speak with him on the phone and I did. I asked him why would he pick on someone who was different from him. I let him know that what he did was wrong and although this was something that he was not use to, it is normal and that it may be other times he may see something similar. I told him next time instead of picking just let the teacher know and she can take care of the little boy. Because of his behavior he had to move his clip down from green to yellow. His teacher let me know that this type of behavior was not acceptable. This encounter put me in the waking up part of Harro (2008) Cycle of Liberation due to the fact that my son knew better to do what he did but yet he did. Children should be exposed to different pictures of children and older people that has a disability so that when they see one in person they will not be so alarmed. As educators it is our job to ensure that every child is depicted in the class in some kind of way be it through pictures, books, and/or toys. Derman-Sparks and Edwards (2010) states “all children need teachers who make sure that people with disabilities are visible in their learning environment: in pictures and posters on the wall, in toys and books, in program staff, and in their community” (p. 125).
I also have a girlfriend who said she had to get on her niece and nephew once or twice because they were staring and pointing at a homeless man who was standing on the corner with one leg. She said they were not picking but were curious and inquisitive as to why the man was like that and why was he standing and holding a sign. “Children’s behaviors such as staring or pointing at a person with a disability are not uncommon and usually indicate curiosity” (Derman-Sparks, & Edwards, 2010, p. 129). She said she told them that she did not know why he only had one leg or why he was on the corner. However, she did tell them that sometimes in life we fall short and situations come up to where we are unable to keep things that we once owned. She let them know that he was homeless because of the sign that he was holding that said “homeless, please help. God Bless.”
The messages that might have been communicated to either of the children are that it is not okay to talk about or pick on others because it is not nice. It might have even been communicated through a hidden message which is the golden rule; do unto to others as you would have them do unto you. “An anti-bias classroom encourages children to be open about their questions, ideas, and feelings about themselves and others” (Derman-Sparks, & Edwards, 2010, p. 129).
An anti-bias teacher would have used that moment with the child as a teachable moment and let the child know that we are all different and some more so than others. The teacher would let the child know that what he said hurt the other child’s feelings and that he did not like it. Derman-Sparks and Edwards (2010) states “to foster an open and safe environment, do not criticize children for noticing and asking questions about differences” (p.129).
Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, DC: NAEYC.
Harro, B. (2010). The cycle of liberation. In M. Adams, W. Blumenfeld, C. Castaneda, H. W. Hackman, M. L. Peters, & X. Zuniga (Eds.), Readings for diversity and social justice(Figure 7.1 on p. 53, 2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Laureate Education (Producer). (2011.). Start seeing diversity: Physical ability and characteristics [Video file]. Retrieved https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_15511834_1&content_id=_34836210_1
Laureate Education (Producer). (2011.). Start seeing diversity: Race/ethnicity [Video file]. Retrieved https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_15511834_1&content_id=_34836210_1