Manchester teachers end school year with diversity awareness session
Gorski acknowledged the red shirts worn by many members of the Manchester Education Association in the Practical Arts building auditorium at Manchester High School Central. “What we need in the schools today is that sense of solidarity,” Gorski said.
Gorski cautioned against accepting deficit ideology. Saying parents don’t care or that students don’t want to learn are examples of deficit ideology, he said, and it’s important to get rid of passing the blame down the line.
For example, he said, when students are complimented, boys are usually praised for their intelligence. What are girls most complimented on? Members of the audience called out and he agreed. “Yes, appearance,” he said. So why do we wonder, he said, why some girls dress the way they do when they get to middle school?
Gorski asked the audience to remember a time when a teacher made us feel part of the group and supported, and then to remember a time when we felt excluded and humiliated. He said we remember those times, but, if asked, the teachers wouldn’t. He gave two such examples in his life, saying they had a lasting effect. He urged those in the audience to examine their assumptions about individual students, assumptions that are sometimes based on color or country of origin or economic status.
He acknowledged that teachers sometimes feel beaten down and that’s when they are likely fall into reciting examples of deficit ideology. “Diversity is not the issue,” he said. Too often, we assign differences to students based on stereotypes that are not valid, he said.
One of the simplest, but very important strategies is to learn to pronounce a student’s full name correctly, even if it requires repeated help from the student. “Children shouldn’t have to check their identities at the door,” he said, and use an Anglicized name for the teacher’s benefit.
When it comes to making those changes necessary to ensure all children reach their full potential, Gorski assured his audience: “Nobody can do this better than educators. We are built for this.”
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