“Don’t let our differences be the differences between us, but the differences for us.” – Don Logan
Rarely is there a time when raising or educating a child that diversity doesn’t play a major role. Diversity education is an opportunity to teach children about the differences that exist in people, places and beyond. Children develop from their experiences, and their experiences are influenced by their perceptions.
Here’s a memorable and simple activity that helps early elementary students understand the complexity of different perspectives and how differences can be leveraged for good.
In the pictures below, do you see an old woman or young woman?
What about this one? Do you see 2 faces or a vase?
These optical illusions are a great way to show students how people can see the same thing and interpret it differently. Our brains, experiences, and thoughts are all very different that even when looking at the same thing we may draw different conclusions. Have students share what they see when they look at the pictures above, noticing that there is no “right” way to view the picture. When someone sees and interprets something differently than you do, it doesn’t necessarily mean the difference is “bad” or “wrong.”
Next, have students reflect on how differences can make their classroom (and world) stronger, for example:
- When working on a project, classmates have varying ideas and unique strengths to offer, supporting a more holistic, comprehensive and well-rounded approach to the project.
- Differences give us the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others. We can practice being curious about others by being interested in what makes us different.
- Exploring the diversity of different foods, cultures, people, traditions, holidays, languages, and clothing make life more colorful and interesting. Exposure to anything new helps the brain continue to grow.
- Foster a sense of compassion and understanding for others and their challenges and successes by exploring their diverse upbringing and education.
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive lesson on diversity and tolerance, you can read about our “Respecting Diversity” program here.