We Must Teach Understanding

Columns, Political Cartoons — By on April 11, 2017 8:50 am

Opinion by Alina Merlak

Imagine the school playground. For some, this was place of good memories, laughing with friends over childish jokes, and enjoying the carefree nature of being a kid. But for others, the school grounds remind them of the times they didn’t fit in, the different ways they were picked on, or how they were bullied for not being the same.  We live in a world filled with people of all shapes, colors, religions, and sexualities. But just because our world has a wide range of diversity, doesn’t mean everyone who lives in it has a wide range of thinking. To prevent bullying, create awareness, and teach kids to be accepting of others, students in the Mount Vernon School District should continue to be exposed to diverse literature through their counseling curriculum.

As a child you learn the basics of life in school. Everyone knows how to read, add, and spell, right? So if schools took simple steps to teach kids to accept others while they’re young, they would remember and apply it when they are older. This method is being used at Washington Elementary School in Mount Vernon. Four times a month kindergarten through fourth grade students read books about topics like bullying, kindness, and embracing differences. One book that is read is The Family Book by Todd Parr, and talks about the different varieties families come in. Another is My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis, which is about a boy named Dyson who likes to wear dresses.

Unfortunately reading these books to children isn’t as easy as it sounds. Topics like homosexuality and transgender rights is often brought up in these books, and anytime a topic involving LGBT is brought up there is always debate. Some parents do not want their kids learning about these topics in school, or at such a young age. For this situation there is an opt out policy. Any parent who doesn’t want their child to participate in the activity can simply call in. Last year certain books in the curriculum were brought to the school board by individuals who questioned whether they should be included or not. To fix this, the opt out policy was improved for parents to call their kids out of certain books if they chose.

Every day more and more previously silenced people have come out to talk about themselves. Whether they talk about being bullied for their sexuality, discriminated against for their religion, or just don’t know who they are, these people are often ostracized from the majority starting a young age. Our society has been recognizing this a lot more, and making changing for it, a good example: the elementary school’s counselling curriculum. Keeping this curriculum will not only help our schools become a better place, but our society.

Teaching Understanding

Cartoon by Alina Merlak

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