From Inly’s world language programs to after school offerings; cultural curriculum to the school-wide focus on character education; from extension opportunities for students to professional development offerings for faculty, there are always many examples of multicultural education in action at Inly. Here are a few of our most recent school-wide happenings, discussed through the lens of diversity and multicultural education.
On the afternoon of our September 26th early release, the faculty participated in a Council on Diversity and Equity (CDE)-facilitated workshop about inclusive classroom language. We shared anecdotes, had great conversations, and left with many new questions to consider and discuss. We also left with some new resources, including “Gender Doesn’t Limit You,” a Teaching Tolerance curriculum for grades K-6 that directly addresses student comments like “girls can’t play,” “girls have to be the nurses,” and “boys are better at math than girls.”
As always, our Assembly offerings this fall have broadened the worldviews of our students. Toby Forrest spoke with the students on October 2nd about life in a wheelchair. His messages that “being different makes a difference” and “playing safe is fun” were impressive and interesting, and his easy-going nature and excellent storytelling abilities made him a joy for our students to hear from. Ventura Fabian is a craftsman from Oaxaca, Mexico who is a part of a strong family history of master wood carvers. He brought his work (including a fun stop-motion animation video of his dancing wood-carved chickens) and story to us on October 30th.
On October 21st, we welcomed two new members to the Middle School community with the arrival of Guatemalan exchange students Juan Di (staying with the de Murias family) and Abby (staying with the Snyder family). The students are here during their “summer” break to live with American host families and study in an American school, and they will be with us up until the start of our Winter Break. This is an excellent extension of Inly’s mission to create global citizens, as the cultural learning for our students during this exchange is immense (plus, of course, the authentic Spanish that can be practiced with two more native Spanish speakers in the community is boundless).
We had our first Omran-Nelson Speaker Series event of the year on October 23rd when Joe Ehrmann came to campus, opening a dialogue about masculinity and femininity among the faculty and parent body. He made many great points about the culture of sports in our society and how adults can be powerful figures for social good and character education in young folks’ lives.
Coming up, there are even more diversity and multicultural-related events and opportunities to look forward to. Many of these opportunities will take place on-campus, while some will take place away from Inly. AISNE (the Association of Independent Schools of New England, one of the bodies that accredits Inly) hosts several diversity-themed conferences over the course of the year, including a Diversity Conference on Friday November 8th that five faculty members, board members, and administrators are attending. The day is packed with dynamic opening and closing speakers, and workshop sessions to choose from include “How Teachers and Parents Can Talk with Children About Issues of Difference,” “People of Inspiration: a Year-Long History Curriculum for Young Children,” “Diversity Directors: Strengthening Our Programs through Regional Collaboration,” and “Cultural Humility — Using it to Learn about Self and Others Across Difference.”
On Saturday, November 16, some 7th and 8th graders will spend the day at the Fenn School in Concord Massachusetts, attending AISNE’s Middle School Diversity Conference. AISNE holds this conference each year, providing middle school students with more opportunities to explore topics related to diversity in interesting, interactive, thought provoking ways. According to AISNE’s website, this conference focuses on “helping middle school students better understand themselves and their peers through reflection, dialogue, and leadership opportunities.” The title of this year’s conference is called “We Are All Connected” and workshop titles include “Capoeira: Brazilian Martial Arts,” “Cultural Identity Collaging,” “Introduction to Hip Hop Dancing,” “Future Global Leaders,” “Why We Love Rebels: Music, Identity, and Social Climate,” “Our Common DNA Heritage,” and “I am Cambodia,” among many others. Workshop formats range from presentations to interactive theatrical games to writing workshops, and according to students who have attended opportunities like this in the past, “it’s really fun,” and “it made me think a lot more about who I am and about the identities of the people around me.”