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The Changing World of Childhood
January 10, 2022
Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.
-Mahatma Gandhi
In a December 2019 article from Teaching Young Children, Barbara Kaiser and Judy Solar Rasminsky state, “Many people, including educators, have long believed it is better to act colorblind and/or 'cultureblind'—that is, to not acknowledge color or culture. But research has shown that this artificial blindness keeps us from recognizing, acknowledging, and appreciating important differences. Worse, it may lead to unintentional bias toward or disrespect for those who are different from us.” They point out, “For teachers, it is essential to see and understand your own culture in order to see and understand how the cultures of children and their families influence children’s behavior. Only then can you give every child a fair chance to succeed.”

This perspective extends to understanding how today’s children differ from previous generations. In a new Ed.Flicks offering, “The Changing World of Childhood,” Valora Washington points out several qualities that make today’s children unique: While older adults in the US grew up in a country that was predominantly white, that’s no longer true. “The younger the generation, the more diverse that generation is.” Families are also smaller. Family structures are more diverse, and more likely to change due to divorce, cohabitation or other shifts. Even very young children are tech-immersed and globally connected in such a way that what happens even very far away has a direct impact on their lives.

“I really believe this alpha generation is going to transform adulthood in ways that we cannot even imagine right now… So let's begin the equity conversation with an understanding that childhood has changed, families have changed, …and that must be the foundation of everything that we do.”

Note: Kaiser and Rasminsky have teamed up again in a new article in the Jan/Feb issue of Exchange magazine!


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Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
Exchange Press · January 11, 2022
United States

Francis, you make important points that children's' needs are the same throughout the years. Thank you again for your thoughtful comment.

-Tiffany at Exhange Press

Francis Wardle · January 10, 2022
Center for the Study of Biracial Children
Denver, Colorado, United States

While young children today clearly live in a world different than the one I grew up in, I think it is critically important that we realize the needs of young children HAVE NOT changed. They need love, positive human interactions, sensitivity, encouragement, responsiveness, lots of play, opportunities to succeed, positive discipline, and so on. Also, we must be very clear that while research shows that young children can discriminate all sorts of physical differences: skin color, hair color and style, body size, language and accents, clothes people wear and so on, they do do not discriminate by race and ethnicity, largely because these constructs change over time and differ by nation, society and community..

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