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Teaching Respect and Diversity: Week 9

“The teacher captures that…that moment when the kid realizes that maybe, just maybe, educations the only way to liberate themselves” -Erin Gruwell



This week I realized something about education: socialization, the process of preparing persons for a social environment (Ornstein, Levin, & Gutter, 2001, 542), is something that will occur in my classroom.  Preparing students to deal with social aspects such as race, culture, and respect for others is important to the spectrum of knowledge children will gain in school.  A lot of what I teach my students will not necessarily come straight from a textbook; the importance of  diversity and respect is something children can learn from a text, however their own experiences greatly shape their understanding as well. Personally, knowing about these ideas and understanding the value of them come from my own experiences in my life. As a teacher, I will encounter many different kinds of students from many different backgrounds and I must find a way to get to understand my students on an individual level, as well as understand that I myself have a story to tell also.  My thoughts on learning about my students and their own personal lives outside of the classroom developed out of an own experience of mine in class last week.

Last week in class we had the opportunity to watch excerpts from the movie Freedom Writers, an uplifting and emotional story about Erin Gruwell, an ordinary teacher with a passion for educating students and making a difference in the world.  Erin Gruwell took a once seen impossible at-risk and racially, culturally, and socially diverse group of students and educated them about the world around them, inspiring them to recognize diversity as a positive and integral part of their lives.  After watching clips of this movie in class, I was surprised by how emotionally moved I was. Not necessarily because of the movie itself, but because of the message it gave to me as an upcoming educator.  This story is a story of hope, integrity, motivation, and a willingness to make a difference in a person’s life.  As someone who has always had the calling to be an educator, I firmly believe that education is vital to everyone in order to help bring awareness to many different aspects of life.  In my opinion, educating children about equality, respect, culture, and diversity is equally important as teaching them academic subjects.  It is with that belief in mind that I begun to think about my place in the world of education. How can I make a difference? How can I make sure that I an educating children to look at the world around them with open minds? What kinds of experiences in my own life will shape the kind of educator I will be? These questions and many more will be addressed and new ones made throughout my eventual profession as a teacher.

The very first thing that came to mind after viewing this movie was my own views and the household in which my beliefs were cultured.  Everyone has their own unique story to tell and experiences that shape that they are and how they act.  I know of some who grew up at home with both parents around, some who grew up with only their father, children who have been adopted, and children who grew up surrounded by negativity and bad role models.  No one experience or living arrangement is any better or worse off than the other, however it can significantly impact the way in which people perceive the world.  As an educator, and as Erin Gruwell in Freedom Writers, I will need to be sensitive to my children’s needs in the classroom and recognize that every individual student has their own life, their own story to tell.  It is up to me as the teacher to ensure that their needs and the needs of their peers are taken into the utmost consideration.  Part of respecting my children in the classroom will be to teach them the value of diversity and learning about other points of view.  Sometimes I feel that people are too closed minded about their ideas—just like the students from the movie.  They were so wrapped up in their own points of view that controversy arose among students in the classroom over the fact that the students just didn’t know enough about one another.

As an educator, I will strive to teach my students about diversity and to respect and cherish it so that they may by enlightened by the insights gained from respecting and understanding differences.  This past week’s class has made me think much deeper about how important recognizing socialization, diversity, and culture in my own live and in the classrooms I will eventually be a part of.  I hope to be able to instill the passion in my students for learning and also shape them into responsible, caring, respectful adults so they may live fulfilling and honest lives.



Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., & Gutek, G. L. (2011). Foundations of Education   (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

~ by hgluchow on .


One Response to “Teaching Respect and Diversity: Week 9”

  1. Your view on education seems so passionate, which is great! Passions for education and for ones students is definitely something teachers need. I also thought the movie we watched was really moving, it helps portray how hard it can be sometime to reach your students and how strong teachers really have to be sometimes. I hope I can be that strong if I need to. It is awesome that she wrote another book and has carried her message even farther, to help more teachers do what she did with her class.