We are parents and educators committed to a just and equitable society. This blog is a forum to share ideas and resources to help us teach our children and ourselves about social equity issues.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Discussing Diversity: Religion

We had our last Discussing Diversity session on Thursday evening with Dr. Pamela Taylor, Associate Professor at Seattle University. For those who were unable to attend, here were some of the highlights:

 1. Given the dominant Christian tradition in the United States and the current deep fear of Islam, Dr. Taylor started the session with an exercise with facts and quotations from holy books and we had to decide which applied to Judaism, Christianity and/or Islam. This exercise made clear the deep commonalities between these three Abrahamic religions, which are surprising even to those well versed in their own religious tradition. We also viewed a trailer for the documentary, "Three Faiths, One God: Judaism, Christianity, Islam" which Dr. Taylor recommends for those interested in learning more this. Here's a link.
2. We then had a far ranging discussion touching on atheism, Buddhism, Hinduism and our own personal stories. Noted was the challenge of respecting the traditions of our families and of others without being silent about the unfairness in the practice of religion towards the LGBTQ community and other religious traditions, for example.
Dr. Taylor's advice boils down to things we have already learned to be true about an ideal anti-bias curriculum:
a. Know your own traditions and beliefs and celebrate them with your children (Knowledge of self and group identity.)
b. Be knowledgeable about other people and groups. Read about and experience different traditions. (Empathic engagement with difference.)
c. Be mindful of your language and speak out against jokes and slurs and harmful myths and stereotypes. Silence sends a message that you are in agreement. (Ability for critical thinking and taking action.)
3. Some children's books that I have found helpful are: (click on links to take you to Amazon if you like)

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