Diversity and Bullying: Just Another Version of the Chicken and Egg Question?
So, which came first, the chicken or the egg? After you consider that, then answer this, which occurs first, bullying because of our ignorance on how to respond to differences, or inconsideration of differences that contributes to bullying?
Today Kristie Gonyea and I facilitated the second of three presentations at Peru Central School. As a result of a series of different bullying incidents (which often are connected to inadequate preparation of students/parents with diversity & social justice) that have occurred around the North Country, the Peru administration decided to accept some assistance and provided us access to the middle school students to create a conversation about diversity, social justice and bullying.
The 8th grade students were amazing! Quiet when they needed to respect a voice, vocal when a question was put to them, we were pleasantly surprised by the energy, focus, and consideration they gave the subject matter.
I told my son I was going to write a blog about the rewarding experience I had today with his classmates. I told him I would link it to my Facebook account so that his friends could see it.
If any middle school students actually read this blog, my questions to them are:
1. What was the most personal thing that you got from the diversity/bullying session today?
2. If you were to describe to your parents what you experienced today, how would you describe it?
3. Why was it important for you to have a session on bullying/diversity?
4. Do you think the bullying/diversity session will make a difference with your classmates, and why/why not?
5. Do you think all students would benefit from more diversity sessions like the one you had today? Why/why not?
6. Do you think your parents would benefit from participating in a session on bullying/diversity?
My questions to adult readers of this blog are:
1. Do you think it is possible for a middle school student to truly process (significantly grow/mature) from a message that challenges them to respect “everyone,” no matter how different the person appears to be?
2. Do you think it is possible for a middle school student to become a leader when they’ve never really thought about leading before?
3. Do you think it is possible for a middle school student to tune out the dysfunctional messages that their parents, siblings, friends, etc., constantly expose them to and hold on to the positive messages?
4. Do you think it would be helpful/beneficial to find a way to include middle school student’s parents in these conversations about diversity & social justice, and bullying?
5. Why is it that we emphasize, promote, and fund sports and academics, but have so little emphasis on the development of our character through respect/consideration of our differences?
I am really curious as to how students and parents might process a session like this. What do you think?