This week happened to have in store for me two presentations on the same topic. Both of them focused on many of the same topics, such as stereotypes and assumptions. Many things are changing in the education system. I attended a private school from Kindergarten to Grade 8, and there were very few classmates or teachers from a culture that differs from the Caucasian majority in Canada. This was to my detriment. I was given very few opportunities to discover different cultures, and when I did, it was from a textbook, website, or museum. I didn’t actually get to experience culture for what it is. I did not get to experience the people of any given culture. So with that, my understanding of culture was tainted by textbook terms, and, in essence, stereotypes.
This week, as I prepared for two presentations on the same topic, I realized how important it is to learn about multiculturalism. If I don’t learn about it, how will I be able to teach my students? If I don’t learn, how will I be able to give them an accurate understanding? The answer is, I can’t. Even with my knowledge, I cannot properly show children what diverse cultures are because I would be doing the same thing my teachers did. I would rely on a book, or some secondary source. My students need to learn about it for themselves. The fact of the matter is, they will have the chance in their own classroom, because Canada is increasingly multicultural, and increasingly diverse.
If my students are to learn about multiculturalism, I need to be willing to put aside my comfort, and experience new things for myself, while encouraging them to do the same. Just like Aviva expressed, new things are uncomfortable. Sometimes a little discomfort is necessary. Sometimes it is necessary to step out of my comfort zone, to learn more than I did in school, so I can teach children more than I learned in school. Progression is not possible without change. So a movement towards appreciation of multiculturalism requires a change in the way we think and teach. Sometimes change is uncomfortable, and learning and experiencing new things is scary. But it is necessary!