A year-long diversity workshop

A year-long class on diversity is an elective at affluent, high-performing Jericho Middle School, where most students are white or Asian-American, reports the New York Times.

Fifteen eighth graders at Jericho Middle School were considering a fictional case of stereotyping by hair color the other day, or how a boy came to be prejudiced against people with green hair, or “greenies.” From there, they extrapolated to the stereotypes in their own lives: dumb football players, Asian math whizzes, boring bankers.

Teacher Elisa Weidenbaum Waters hopes to “build acceptance, awareness and appreciation that people may be different than you.”

There are no quizzes or tests in the class, and homework is assigned only occasionally. Instead, there are free-flowing discussions about privilege, discrimination and oppression, and readings, like the recent one about people with green hair from “Prejudiced — How Do People Get That Way?” — a book published by the Anti-Defamation League.

School leaders say students growing up in Jericho need preparation for the diverse world they’ll encounter in college and beyond.

The class easily could turn into “amorphous mush” with little intellectual value, warned Rick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.  Class discussions could be slanted to “favor more popular, progressive views,” Hess added.

You know it’s a bad idea . . . when Crash is on the teacher-training syllabus,” writes Liam Julian on Flypaper.

A year-long diversity workshop sounds like a giant bore, even if students don’t have to do much work. It’s possible to learn a great deal about human differences and similarities by reading literature or studying history. Why not design a humanities class that deals with these issues while also asking students to read challenging books, not just pamphlets, and expand their knowledge of the world?

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Comments

  1. Much of this “diversity” stuff seems to completely ignore the fact that differences among humans are not merely a function of race, gender, etc…the difference in the mental world of, say, an extreme extrovert and an extreme introvert is probably at least as great as the difference in the mental world of the average black person and the average white person. Also, much bullying occurs *within* ethnic and gender categories.

  2. One of the dirty little secrets is that black and Hispanic kids who are working hard and doing well in school are often bullied by their same-ethnic-group peers, who see academic effort and success as a betrayal of their ethnicity. Being taunted as an oreo – or various Hispanic variations – can be the least of it; as some of our friends’ kids discovered. They ended up moving their kids to private schools to escape the situation and to avoid poisoning their futures by adopting the socially-accepted attitudes and behaviors.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    Doesn’t sound as if there will be many papers or tests to correct….

  4. This is not a class, it’s a very long sensitivity session. Remember them? back in the ’60’s and ’70’s they were popular and used to good effect for similar reasons. BUT, no-one tried to equate them with instruction.

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    EB
    I don’t know that there is much objective evidence about the good results of sensitivity. Usually only the good results are noised about, with much hype.
    In the Fifties and Sixties, there was a business psychology process known as T-Group, from the way the tables were set up. Like a T shape. Pretty deep, that, and it got better. Executives were said to have fled the process weeping. Thing is, we all have ways of scabbing over our flaws and the lipsmacking ghouls who love to pull those scabs think reducing folks to weeping “self-awareness” is actually progress. No attempt to prepare the person for the result, which a good therapist would do.
    Book about a Catholic order of nuns, “Sisters” describes how the whole thing was basically t-grouped into ruin.
    I really don’t like messing about in someone’s head, especially when done under color of authority, especially when the messer-about has no training in how to spot trouble and deal with it, especially in a group setting.
    “sensitivity”? Basically saying that if you have a question, you are wrong. Catch Gen. Casey the day of the Ft. Hood shooting. Didn’t want to lose “diversity” which is our strength. Means if you know of a Muslim who has appalling performance and neon-backlit nutcaseness–like Hasan–he doesn’t want to hear about it.

    Mayoral candidate for LA, said that it’s the Asians’ fault they keep getting beat up by black kids. The Asians politely don’t make eye contact, the black kids feel disrepsected and can’t help themselves. So who, in this situation, would be required to be more sensitive in this class? Never mind.