“No one is born hating another person because of the color of [their] skin or [their] background or [their] religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Nelson Mandela
Racism is learned. Harvard University brain researcher and racism and physical prejudice expert Mahzarin Banaji has found that children as young as three can learn discriminatory and racist behaviours and attitudes. Racist attitudes and behaviours are learned from children's role models: parents, older siblings, teachers and coaches, for example. Children are able to pick up on overt racism (e.g. name calling) as well as passive racism (e.g. stereotypes and tropes played out in media). Observing this the question became, must prejudicial behaviours learned at a young age stay with children through adulthood?
A variety of studies have indicated that racism can be unlearned. By exposing children and youth to the concepts of diversity and empathy and providing them with the language and skills to talk about racism, they are inclined to leave their racist inclinations in favour of love and acceptance. The need for anti-racism learning is real - one only needs to turn on the TV for proof. The following resources were designed to equip teachers, social group leaders and parents with tools to engage children and youth in conversations around racism and bigotry. The hope is that these lessons provide the opportunity for youth to safely challenge racist ideologies and/or counter the implicit influences.
Parents, teachers and youth leaders can play a key role in creating positive social change, locally and globally. Engaging youth in conversations about equity, diversity, racism and sexism not only makes the issues more relevant, but also equips them with a broader understanding of their place and role in their community (local and global) and how they can affect positive, lasting change.
Through these resources, students are provided with opportunities to expand their understanding of others and gain greater insights into how we are all interconnected and interdependent. They will learn that racism, sexism and hate are learned behaviours - choices that do not benefit our world. And, they will be encouraged, empowered and equipped to stand up, speak out and push back against bigotry and hatred, becoming allies and making the world better.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King Jr.
Racism, hate and bigotry have the power to hide, blending into cultural norms. But, they lose their influence when they are talked about. These resources were designed to bring racism, bigotry and hatred out of hiding, stripping them of their power.
The topics discussed in these lessons are sensitive and may cause some students stress or discomfort. However, we believe that in order to deal with the lasting, harmful effects of racism and violence, we must not shy away from discussing it, and it must be discussed at all ages. Providing students with the opportunity to challenge misconceptions and prejudices, and equipping them with the tools and language they need is an important step in addressing racism and bigotry.
1. Encourage students, parents, teachers, and leader to use caring and sharing as a defence against hatred, bigotry and racism
2. Enable children, youth, parents, caregivers, mentors and teachers to effectively promote positivity in their communities by providing them with the tools they need to confidently and politely stand up, speak out and push back against hate in our world
3. Empower youth to celebrate diversity through activities and analysis to build positive social norms of acceptance and inclusion
1. Learning is both an individual and collaborative process
2. Learning requires students to engage actively with the materials
3. Students are encouraged to share and contribute to the learning process
4. All individuals learn at varying rates and in a variety of ways
In addition to these priorities, it is imperative that children and youth feel safe and empowered to explore and participate without fear of reproach
Educators recognize the link between fostering safe spaces where students can explore and share their personal identity and student achievement. Feeling safe to express who you are and to learn more about similarities and differences between classmates boosts social development (the knowledge and understanding students require to become socially responsible global citizens).
These learning resources provide educators with sample lesson plans and activities to give students of all ages opportunities to engage with pressing social concerns and to grow their social development. The lessons herein can help augment existing government curricula, and have been created to address additional goals:
“Why is it that giving guns is so easy and giving books is so hard?” Malala Yousafzai
Through integrating this resource package into class learning, students will
The curriculum is divided into three sections (Stand Up, Speak Out, Push Back) across three age ranges: elementary (grades K-4), intermediate (grades 5-8) and secondary (grades 9-12). Through the curriculum it is our aim to: