By Iliana Garcia, M.ED
I was recently introduced to the term “Manifest Destiny”, by one of my daughters. I became totally in LOVE with the phrase. So many paths these words could lead me to….
Although this phrase was coined in 1845, by newspaper editor John O’Sullivan to describe the ideology of continental expansionism, meaning that God intended for the United States to occupy North America from Atlantic to Pacific, to me, this term means so much more.
Manifest destiny, to me, means we were made by a Creator to live a life of happiness in a world where we are able to get along with others and share our gifts despite our differences and faults.
More specifically, as an educator, manifest destiny, means expanding my knowledge and expertise as I work with students that I did not have the opportunity to learn from before. It means opening a door to a whole different dimension called “INCLUSION”.
“Inclusion means inviting those who have been historically locked out to ‘come in’. Inclusion is recognizing our universal ‘oneness’ and interdependence, recognizing we are one, even though we are not the same.” Shafik Abu-Tahir
Manifesting Destiny does not exclusively apply to educators diversifying their classrooms, it can be practiced by all individuals in several contexts. Here are some ways we can all manifest destiny to make inclusion happen in our schools, communities, and homes:
Establish a sense of belonging for everyone.- Building a sense of belonging requires active effort and practice. One way to work on increasing your sense of belonging is to look for ways you are similar to others instead of focusing on how you are different.
Be an empathetic leader.- All leaders should commit to embrace and model inclusive behavior. Leaders should actively be open to engaging with all and deliberately include voices from different backgrounds and perspectives. Create and honor a zero-tolerance policy for disrespectful and un-inclusive behavior.
Celebrate diversity.- Learning about other cultures, languages, religions, and holidays aside from their own will help children learn that their classmates may be very different from them and that this is something to celebrate. Being culturally aware is a wonderful way to promote inclusion for all in your classroom or home.
Reduce stigma.- Allow kids to talk about how everyone learns in their own way. They may find that they have more in common with other kids than they thought. This can go a long way in reducing stigma for kids with learning and attention issues. It can also help kids build and maintain friendships.
Manifest Destiny originally referred to something so horribly non-inclusive, but we have the power to change the meaning and the significance of this term to a verb that challenges us to become more inclusive as individuals, as a school, and as a community.
“Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with basic goodness.”
Graham, C. (2018, June 20). Five Strategies To Create A Culture Of Inclusion. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2018/06/20/five-strategies-to-create-a-culture-of-inclusion/#572727261c96
Hall, K. (2014, March 24). Create a Sense of Belonging. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/pieces-mind/201403/create-sense-belonging
Ortiz, J. (2018, December 13). The Importance of Celebrating Different Cultures and Diversity in the Classroom. Retrieved from https://thelittleladybugshop.com/the-importance-of-celebrating-different-cultures-in-the-classroom/
Team, U. (n.d.). 5 Benefits of Inclusion Classrooms. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-i...