I began working in childcare shortly after 9/11. I remember being surprised at how little the children brought up the topic of what had happened. However, it did come up once in a while. Then a handful of years later our community suffered a great tragedy after a shooting rampage on our local campus. In my backyard. This time we were directly affected as many of our families worked on campus, some lost friends, many knew people who lost friends. It was a topic that was hard to avoid and the children needed to talk about what had happened. My fear was not the discussions but what kind of cultural imprint would be left on the children. We live near a college campus in the South. Our community is very diverse but our corner of the US still has plenty of old ideas. My biggest question in the days after the campus tragedy was how to make sure the children were not left with any impositions of attaching race to violence or hatred. I did not like how the media continued (and still does) to attach a race and culture to the hate. Children are very impressionable and I wanted to make teaching love, respect, and tolerance a top priority in my classroom.
I remember watching a video as I prepared for a workshop on diversity. It was called "*Starting Small." It's a great video that talks about teaching tolerance and respecting differences. These children are watching us, listening to us all the time. They will learn from our example of how to be good, caring citizens of this world. I make it a point to remind my students that they are full of potential to do amazing things as they grow, that we should care for ourselves and each other and strive for a more peaceful world. The more we care for each other the more beautiful a place we will have to live in.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
Take the time to teach love, about caring for one another. Love can conquer all, all you need is love.
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