As we raise kids in this day and age, we tend to fall back on what we saw as “the norm” growing up – and then mix and match our older “lessons learned” with some newer rules that allow for factoring in the changing times. And this has kept us in good stead. More or less.
Having said that, we as a society and within our educational institutions, continue to believe that discourse about bias, diversity, discrimination, and inclusivity should happen in middle and high schools. Either from wanting to shield kids from the injustices of the world or thinking that little kids wouldn’t be able to grasp the complexities of said topics, we find ourselves delaying serious conversations.
But I believe that there is most definitely a middle ground. We now know as fact that the most formative years for a kid are up to the age of 8. These are the years in which a child experiences rapid cognitive (intellectual), social, emotional, and physical development. They also learn more quickly during this period than during any other.
And so, it becomes all the more critical to have important discussions (however difficult they may be) early on, using age-appropriate literature, intellect-appropriate language, and relatable real-life examples.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RECOGNISING BIAS:
Biases can be conscious or unconscious and while they may save time by being “mental shortcuts”, they may also be getting in the way of making choices that are “right” for us, the group, and/or the community.
It’s important to always be cognizant of the shortcuts we’re taking and of what they cost us in the long run. So when we save time in the short-term by clinging on to a bias, we’re also making ourselves vulnerable to becoming the kind of humans that are closed off from growth.
WHO WANTS TO BE ONE OF THOSE “GRUMPY OLD FARTS” THAT NEVER LEARN, CHANGE, OR ADAPT? NOBODY DOES.
But before you know it, your biases have become a crutch in the face of every problem statement and you don’t know how you got there.
Now, think of what it must be like for kids today.
Kids these days, with their almost limitless access to information, are incomparable to kids of any other time. Because there is a sensory overload of facts, figures, opinions, and judgments coming at them almost all the time, it becomes even harder for them to recognize bias in their daily lives. And so, it’s important to provide them with the right tools to critically think and assess all that comes their way.
FROM DIVERSITY, THERE CAN STEM GREAT OUTCOMES. BUT TO TRULY LIVE A LIFE OF INCLUSIVE ACCEPTANCE, IT’S IMPORTANT THAT KIDS LEARN TO ACCEPT, RESPECT, AND EMBRACE SAID DIVERSITY.
Which brings us back to the right kinds of learning materials, projects, and positive discourse that slowly become a way of life in the household.
EMBRACING INCLUSIVITY, ONE DAY AT A TIME
One of our attempts to get kids on board the Skill-Building Train has been through videos that might seem like everyday cartoons, but are actually episodes that subtly teach them the values of kindness, empathy, generosity, inclusivity, and critical reasoning, and problem-solving.
In celebration of Pride Month, Vathsan, the Director of The Yowie Show on DIY, takes us through an episode titled ‘Yowie Feels a Little Grey’ and breaks down the message that the episode has already conveyed to thousands of kids around the world:
THINGS DON’T NECESSARILY NEED TO FALL INTO CATEGORIES, MOLDS, OR OUR EXPECTATIONS FOR US TO APPRECIATE THEM. MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, PEOPLE WILL NOT CONFORM TO YOUR PERCEPTION OF THEM AND IT’S IMPORTANT TO BE COMFORTABLE WITH THAT.
Watch the whole Director’s Episode Break-Down below:
Let us know what you thought of the episode by writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’d also love to hear from you about other methods that you believe incorporate big learning, seamlessly, into the day-to-day of growing kids.
Tanushree, Team DIY
About the Director: Vathsan is a professional animator and director. Creativity in all forms is what keeps him going and he is also one of the most wonderful storytellers at DIY. He’s a certified (by friends and family) film nut and spends oodles of time-consuming all kinds of content – and even more time analyzing them!
About the Writer: Tanushree is part of the Marketing Team at DIY and is also a professional musician. She has worked closely with kids of all ages and firmly believes that they’re a lot smarter than grown-ups give them credit for.