The middle school I teach in is economically diverse but is made up of mostly white students, with 12% being non-white. Half of that 12% is Hmong. Each year we have more students coming in with Spanish as their first language. The middle school sponsors a Gay and Straight Alliance which includes 12 to 20 students. With the exception of two, all teachers and administrators are white.
When students experience and understand marginalized cultures, they are less likely to judge and stereotype those who are different.
Growing empathy for another person is the best way to change a mind and heart.
As a language arts teacher, I see students' perspectives change when they read books with characters who are different from themselves. I try to plaster my classroom walls with authors of all races, genders, and identities.
The school mission is for all students to be lifelong learners, caring individuals and responsible citizens. This mission must also include the growing diverse population of our world and our smaller community.
Research proves that when students interact with a diverse population, they learn to empathize. The most powerful growth occurs face to face, of course, but we would like to get the conversation started by creating art in our school that represents all of our students.
The many diverse students at our middle school deserve to see themselves represented on the cafeteria walls in the form of murals, and the majority population needs more experiences involving people who are different than themselves.
Eight murals, all celebrating white/male culture and history, currently border the cafeteria. The school's different races cultures, genders, sexual orientations and physical abilities are not appropriately represented.
The cafeteria mural will help marginalized students see themselves while simultaneously helping majority students see others.
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