Shaping young minds!
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Whether or not we are content with this fact, our childhoods shape who we become as adults. The kids with whom we play with and the activities that we do, shape our experiences and the stories that we tell each other as adults. Everything we learn as a child comes from our friends, our teachers and our families.
Growing up, I was very close with all of the other kids in my apartment, and we all hung out together immediately after school until it was time to go to bed. I was the only girl, but I hung out with my friends on the block everyday and we spent most of our time playing badminton, basketball and football, some of which were the least bit girly. Now, at sixteen years old, I still love to play as well as watch sports.
Since 6th grade my parents have sent me to an international private school where students all came from different ethnic, racial, religious and cultural background, yet every student blended seamlessly into the community. There always have been some misconceptions about other cultures but being exposed to people of another culture as a child has opened my mind as an adult in more ways than I can understand. These experiences helped me be the person I am today. If all of the kids on my street had been girls, I would have played with dolls instead of throwing a football. In the same vein, had I attended the public school in my town, I may not have had a nuanced understanding of, and curiosity about, cultures and religions that are different than my own.
Two of the major problems that we face in today’s increasingly globalized world are stereotyping and xenophobia. At a cookie-cutter school, students don’t have the same opportunity to debunk stereotypes as students in a multicultural school. As a result, those kids may go through life continuing to believe these stereotypes and then pass these very beliefs down to their children, contributing to a cycle of misunderstanding.
Our world is more interconnected than it ever has been. People are more likely to meet to someone of a different culture than ever before, yet so many of us are not prepared for our new global reality. To solve the problems of stereotyping and xenophobia we need to teach today’s youth about other cultures. So we need to build a world of empathetic, discerning and empowered global citizens.
In the 21st century, the ability to communicate effectively with someone from another culture is more critical than it ever has been. We need to start teaching children these skills at a young age because what we learn in our formative years shapes who we become as adults.