I apologise for not blogging in a long while. Sometimes it’s hard to put in writing your thoughts, sometimes for fear of offending people or saying the wrong thing or not putting words together or simply time gets in the way.
I write this evening because I have just shared a lovely video on Facebook of children talking about their differences. This links to my feelings above about saying the wrong thing in a way…
In the video the children suggest differences about themselves such as where they live or what they play in sport, not the obvious racial or other physical aspects of differences to us adults perhaps.
My first thoughts were: that’s beautiful. The fact that the children don’t notice or don’t see physical, racial differences is an innocence to be appreciated and as adults if we could see people like that we might live in a kinder world.
I also wondered; at what point in our lives do we notice racial, physical and other differences, often with negative links? Does this come from media, history, family beliefs, exposure or previous experiences? Is it always negative feelings to differences or just misunderstanding of said difference? Or perhaps I’m being a pessimist and everyone sees difference positively…
Then I read the comments and it made me think. One person said should we use this as an opportunity to talk to children about racial differences and some of the issues minority groups face. I do agree with this to some extent, but then if we highlight differences to children with slightly negative links such as issues facing those people does this then make the children see their friends differently to before? And is that good or bad? Is the reason why some groups face difficulties because in history people have seen and disliked differences?
I honestly don’t have to exact answers. When thinking about how us Engligh try to be very PC wouldn’t it create more awareness differences and then divides if we highlight them? And then does that create the awkward feeling of trying to be PC simply because we are aware of a difference?
I work with young children and obviously we create opportunities for children to explore different cultures and what other people may like, do, eat etc. Therefore I am highlighting differences perhaps but not personal ones; General differences whilst making it very normal and easy for the children to understand differences are ok.
In the comments people felt the video was shying away from allowing children, or telling children, about differences. I do think it would be bad to shy away from discussing it. However I feel if and when children notice, the most important thing is that we learn differences are normal, good and celebrated. Then they may not associate difference with negative feelings as I feel many of us do. Even in school I wouldn’t like to stand out and BE different. So some encouragement to embrace difference is needed, while trying to embrace the innocence and perhaps try some for ourselves?