By Fernanda Trave
Are we supposed to be teaching inclusion to our students? I believe we are not because Inclusion is not a subject to teach, it has no way of being assessed, it is not something we study for: Inclusion is a mindset! But how do we promote this in students as young as 3 and as old as 18? Modeling! With our actions, words, decisions, and activities we promote the type of mindset we want our children to develop. Stop, think, and ask yourself, are your words and actions an example of tolerance, respect, and kindness? We are all investing millions in the world’s future by the example we are giving to the world with our actions.
Students are our main target because they are starting to develop their social-emotional skills and values. At ASFM, we have the amazing privilege to work as a community to promote this mindset through our everyday behavior and interactions where students are the main audience. Since nursery, they are forming opinions and living experiences that will mold their mindset. How can we make sure they choose a mindset of inclusion without imposing a way of thinking? Children have the right to make their own judgments and opinions. Just like our inclusion motto says, “we are all different, but we are all special”. So, can we have different opinions, dislike some things, and cherish others? Of course! Children can dislike some things as much as they like others. The key-value in all of this that requires modeling, is tolerance and respect.
Tolerance is defined as “the quality of being willing to accept or tolerate somebody/something, especially opinions or behavior that you may not agree with, or people who are not like you”. Respect comes with many different definitions. I am not referring to that which says, respect means honoring someone, you do not have to honor anyone, but yes, we should “refrain from interfering with”, that is the definition of respect we need; understanding that even though we do not like something we need to respect it instead of interfering with it verbally or physically. When children practice these two values, they are developing a mindset of inclusion, where, despite their opinions, they can remain true to themselves, without the need to harm the other. A community where its members share this mindset becomes a diverse and more prepared community, one that is ready to welcome anyone, having as a consequence the gift of knowledge, where different individual ideas come together to create a better whole.
Tolerance. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2020, from https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/tolerance?q=tolerance
Respect. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/respect