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How to address cultural diversity in the classroom?

Cultural Diversity
Greg Johnson Greg Johnson

Cultural multiplicity and richness enhances the overall learning experience in all areas of life.  In schools, students get the opportunity to mix and work with, and understand others who may be very different from them. Such heterogeneity creates an atmosphere of acceptance and children learn to function in a diverse multicultural and multiethnic environment.

The role of educators and parents in creating a positive environment within the classroom is of utmost importance. If they promote the idea of equality and diversity in a manner that children understand, it will help them to appreciate unique cultural differences, and learn to cherish these, rather than judge them.  Children need to be introduced to the concept of equality and multiculturalism from an early age. A number of teaching methods can be employed to ensure you build an inclusive environment within the classroom. Listed below are a few approaches that can be effective in addressing cultural diversity in the classroom.

Use of diversity in teaching resources

The resources used in the teaching process must include examples from different cultures. If you acquaint students with the concept of diversity through stories, posters and pictures of people from varied cultures, this may help to imbibe a sense of acceptance. Children realise that such differences are normal and not something to approach with fear or apprehension. Populate wall spaces with pictures and information about people from different ethnic backgrounds this will encourage better understanding of the many races and groups that exist in the world.

Activities and integration weeks

Hosting weeks dedicated to particular themes or a culture is an interesting way to introduce children to the idea of diversity. Stories about traditions, festivals and food can be shared during these events. The knowledge and concepts acquired through these activities can be incorporated in other areas of the curriculum to reinforce the idea.

Discussions and debates

Exchanging and discussing ideas about diversity is another effective tool for creating an atmosphere of equality. Kids should be given the opportunity to express their ideas about diversity. Any negative attitude or thought must be discussed. Parents and educators must ensure that children feel comfortable to discuss or report any incidents of discrimination. Building a strong bond in the classroom makes a student feel valued – a sense of belonging develops and they are able to discuss their concerns openly.

The Equality Act of 2010 brings out the legal responsibilities of public bodies including schools to promote equality. Here are Guidelines regarding  equality and inclusion that schools must adhere to. This must not merely be limited to ensuring that discrimination of any form is not practised; rather, attempts should also be made to imbibe healthy values within children.

Another essential goal for building a culturally responsive education system is to encourage children to appreciate their culture. Children from minority ethnic groups may feel pressured to adopt new cultural norms and traditions. However, it’s important to preserve one’s own culture while respecting and accepting others’. A broad and structured approach with emphasis on acceptance and respect can help build an inclusive education system.

Racial discrimination may also take the form of cyber bullying or cyber racism. Schools can employ e-safety solutions to deal effectively with these issues. To find out more about e-Safety solutions, follow Securus Software on Twitter and connect with us on LinkedIn.

e-Safety guidelines for schools and teachers

Mark Kingham Mark Kingham

The Internet has enabled young people to explore, connect, create and learn in ways never imagined before.  It has, in fact, given us all immense power. It has often been said that “with great power comes great responsibility.” So how can we ensure our children are using this power responsibly? The answer is e-Safety education.

e-Safety is constantly evolving. One company that has been instrumental in safeguarding young people online in the UK is Securus, the leading e-Safety solution for schools and colleges. Securus monitors all computer-based activities, both within and outside of places of learning, and alerts school authorities to anything that suggests a child may be at risk or is breaching acceptable use policies.  Since 2002, more than 3,500 educational establishments have enjoyed the benefits Securus provides, by identifying and preventing thousands of online threats to children every day.

One major concern raised recently by the government is cyberbullying.  A staggering 69% of all school age children report having been bullied, with a large proportion taking the form of cyberbullying.  It is not just the children who suffer, however.  A  guide released by the Department for Education reveals that 21% of teachers have reported derogatory comments posted about them by children on social media sites. Read our blog to delve a bit deeper into cyberbullying.

e-Safety guidelines for teachers

In November 2013, the Guardian published an article, which reported that schools play a very important role in confronting online abuse. A majority of teachers feel that schools should improve their levels of online safety education.

How can schools help keep students safe online?

Quiz –  You could use a quiz to emphasise the importance of using strong passwords for online security. For example: what was your first pet’s name? What is your date of birth? What is your email address? Or, what is your favourite film? After you obtain the answers, tell them that you now have the information to retrieve their passwords. Encourage them to make the connection between these questions and regularly asked security questions online, and teach them techniques to make the information more secure.

School policy –  many schools have embraced e-Safety, but how many of them consider e-Safety education to be mandatory in their schools? Ensure that school networks operate like home networks – they should be open and trusted, but with regular monitoring and honest discussion when breaches are made.  Additionally, teach your pupils how to use online tools effectively for personal use, education and socialising. Also, help them develop critical thinking skills around all aspects of being online.

Involve older students –  peer education is one of the most positive ways to build awareness on e-Safety. Elect a group of older pupils, and provide them with in depth training to enable them to become e-Safety ambassadors who can train students, staff and parents. Here is what  e-Safety advisor specialist, Alan Mackenzie has to say about this approach: “The students were particularly responsive to this approach as the advice was practical, realistic and relevant. There were no mentions of dated social networking sites or advice of the ‘don’t meet online friends’ nature, which often typify the traditional e-Safety one-off assemblies.”

Engage parents –  e-Safety discussions should be part of the school curriculum and not just something spoken about at an annual event. Families should be encouraged to participate, e-Safety is, after all, a shared responsibility.  There should be regular and open communication with families, where parents can be educated on e-Safety, covering such topics as using filters, parental controls and home computer security. To learn more about how to protect children using parental controls, read our blog.

Be positive –   When talking to youngsters about the Internet, show them its positive aspects as well as its dangers. Do not start any discussion on e-Safety in a manner that could scare them and always emphasise using the Internet carefully and responsibly.

The e-Safety tools available today should help us to feel positive about technology. How positive are you?

Monitoring for Extremist Content Online

Extremist content
Greg Johnson Greg Johnson

Parents, teachers and educational leaders are becoming increasingly proactive when it comes to e-Safety and its measures. Wise use of the Internet is bridging the gap between parents’ concerns and children’s demand for liberal use.

The Internet is the most preferred hub for freedom of speech and self-publication. The UK government has therefore launched a number of polices for e-Safety to counter concerns that include cyberbullying, sexual abuse, and extremism. Extremism is particularly challenging to investigate because there is no accountability per se and the ideology is imparted in an indirect manner, through non-verbal communication and images that can evoke undesirable psychological responses. Nonetheless, we can look for valid solutions through appropriate awareness.

Here are some pointers for applying appropriate monitoring strategies:

Individual reporting

Users who encounter racially inflammatory material can report it directly to the Police. Responsible officials will further review and assess the material in a systematic manner. The government’s Home Office counter-terrorism Internet referral unit received 2,025 complaints regarding extremist content. Consequently, about 10% of the offending web pages were taken down by the authorities.

Safeguarding through open discussions

Teenagers often come across extremist content while searching for other information online. This content is then repeatedly disseminated to them through pop-ups or reminders. To help youngsters deal with this type of content effectively, we can talk to them about the possible consequences at an early stage to make them more aware. Also, it is helpful to maintain an open dialogue with children about what they like to do online, so they feel safe to disclose any unpleasant experiences.

Surveillance versus blocking

It is advisable that we review and supervise the content accessed by children, rather than simply blocking websites because over blocking may cause them to lose out on important information. We need to have a variety of checks in place – is the content age appropriate? Are personal devices (used in schools, libraries) set in line with the regulations? Are the safety filters functioning optimally to give prompt alerts? And, are the monitoring system retaining the accessed data appropriately to revive or review for later use?

Here, former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan explains that the government has launched the Educate Against Hate website. This practically advises e and supports parents, teachers and school leaders on protection strategies against extremism.

One way to ensure online safety is to implement appropriate systems to monitor and filter online content accessed by children. A survey on management of Internet access in UK public libraries revealed that all public library authorities used filtering software to ensure safer usage.

We are here to help you facilitate safe and secure online usage for your children; contact us to find out more about how we can assist you.

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