Thursday, July 2, 2015

Breaking Stereotypes

Breaking Stereotypes

It was interesting reading about a subject that is so evident in my own classroom.  The conversations between my students during our morning meeting echoed in my head as I read.  In this article the students take action in initiating a campaign to avoid stereotyping in advertisements.  Despite great adversity and risk, they had the courage to begin writing letters and taking action to avoid different stereotypes within their community. 

The reality of stereotypes is inevitable in our society.  It is important that teachers take action in their classroom since this is the one place that students feel safe speaking about topics that may be difficult to discuss outside of the school setting.   By sharing their own stories, students learn to develop skills that allow them to defend their opinions about the world that surround them, but most importantly, their own cultures.  

Fortunately, there is more anti-bias literature available to include in our classroom libraries.  By exposing children to a wide range of literature, they are able to explore subjects that are evident in our society. Books unlock opportunities to further discuss topics that may be uneasy for some students. 

The article includes a list of books that were used to introduce different stereotype subjects like gender and family values.  Some of these books have unexpected endings that encourage classroom discourse. It allows students to analyze literature with a different lens and express their opinions. 

·      William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow
·      Oliver Button Is a Sissy by Tomie dePaola
·      Horace and Morris but Mostly Dolores
·      Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesley Newman
·      King and King by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland

I was pleasantly surprised to read that the hard work of this teacher and her students had paid off.  After many months of discussing stereotypes and actions to prevent false advertisements, they received a letter from the president of Pottery Barn thanking them for their letter about gender stereotypes in their catalog. 

Excellent Results!

The fall of 2003, Pottery Barn Kids catalog arrived with a picture of a boy, sitting at a desk, doing his homework.  Another picture showed a boy talking on the phone, instead of a girl, which was something one of her students had suggested.  

I truly enjoy happy endings. 

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