Teaching and Talking about Diversity

Joe Cote's 6th grade English class has been learning about diversity this semester, specifically through the story of Auggie in the book Wonder by R. J. Palacio.
To expand on this topic, Mr. Cote brought in four guest speakers from within Williams to help give these students a unique, discussion-based LAB experience.
 
Assistant Head of School for Program Jane Hannon led the class in a bracelet-making activity, where each student was asked to reflect on his or her own racial identity, the identity of their family, their friends, and the star of the last movie and TV shows they watched. They chose beads to add to their bracelet that represented Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, East Indians, and Asian Americans, and then considered the makeup of their beaded bracelets.
 
Next, senior Eric Sale led the students in a thoughtful and respectful discussion of differing political viewpoints on a variety of hot-button topics, ranging from gun control to immigration.
 
Dean of Students Macy Kleinfelder led the students in an activity meant to make them reflect on non-verbal communication; each student was given a sticker for their forehead, instructing the others to treat them a certain way - "give me a high five," or "smile at me," or "turn away from me," among others. The students who received the "turn away from me" stickers helped to spark the conversation about how we should be mindful of those who may feel isolated at school for any number of reasons and make an effort to reach out to them.
 
Information Services Associate Emily Grace Le May led the students through a privilege walk, with prompts like "take a step forward if you are male," or "take a step backward if you ever tried to change your appearance, mannerisms, or behavior to avoid being judged or ridiculed." This resulted in a discussion of privileges, which ones are earned and which are received (or withheld) by sheer luck, and what those with many can do with them to help others who may be struggling.
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