Diversity comes in all shapes and sizes just like us. Promoting positive diversity in our early childhood classrooms may be the first experience for some children as a challenge to their cycle of socialization (Harro, 2010). They only know of what they have been exposed to up to this point in their lives and it is perceived as “normal”. Early school experiences are often the first opportunities for children to expand their interactions and knowledge beyond their family and immediate community. The only way to breakout of the continuous cycle or repeated thoughts and actions from generation to generation is to be challenged with another way of thinking that causes you to want to change your thinking (Harro, 2010).
Books and materials depicting homosexual relationships and staff member that may be homosexual can be difficult for people. Some people have very strong personal and religious connections to this “ism”, which makes the topic so much more difficult for schools to respond. I think it is important for everyone to remember exposing children to different types of people and practices is not about how you personally live or your personal beliefs. It is about making children aware of differences in our world and that it is ok to be different and treat others with kindness and respect regardless of their difference. Taking the approach that we are all different to someone in someway may help break some out of their cycle of socialization.
Over my years as a child and as an adult I have hear many gender and sexual orientation phrases used in an insulting manner toward children by children and by adults. They often become so “normal” in our lives that we do not even see them as harmful. To refer to a boy who as a “sissy”, “baby”, “a girl”, or to refer to a girl as a “tomboy”, “lesbo”, or “such a girl” has an impact on that child and on other children who witness. The boy may learn that boys are not allowed to show emotions, boys are not allowed to be sad, if you do these things you are like a girl, which is not good. A girl may learn girls are emotional, girls are not as tough as boys, girls should not do the same things as boys, being a girl is not a good thing. Then as adults, we wonder why some men can be insensitive and more aggressive, and why are some women so emotional and unwilling to take risks. The cycle of socialization from generation to generation has taught us to be this way and yet we still wonder why men and women act the way they do. If we never break these cycles of socialization there will be no real change.
Harro, B. (2010). The cycle of socialization. In M. Adams, W. Blumenfeld, C. Castaneda, H. W.