What’s going on with the world?
I don’t want to get into politics but you can’t help but ask where the kindness in the world has gone. So instead of going into another political rant which we’ve all heard a lot of the last few days, let me just tell a quick little story of why equality and diversity is important to me.
I never knew the term discrimination when I was a kid. It luckily never affected me and I had no need to know about it. But one teacher thought we all needed to learn. And instead of giving us a boring lecture, he decided to educate us young kids the best way he knew how: in practice.
This teacher divided the whole class in half; just a random numbering off (not picking out students specifically in anyway) and separated us on different sides of the classroom. And we all thought, ‘well this isn’t that bad’. Until he declared that one half (my half of the room) was not allowed to use the newer equipment during PE and, most importantly to seven year old me, not allowed to use the new or unbroken crayons.
A harsh but realistic lesson on discrimination.
And even today when I hear about discrimination of any kind, I think back to what it felt like to be in that half of the class that missed out no other reason than someone telling me I was a lesser person. And I can only guess those kids who were on the lucky, non-discriminated side felt awkward and upset also; I distinctly remember a few of them offering us their crayons or sports equipment before being told by the teacher they couldn’t give it to us; because we weren’t allowed it. Simple as that. And at the end of the day he asked us all how it felt; to be the ‘have-nots’ and to be the ones watching from the sidelines.
And even though some may complain it was a harsh way to teach us all a lesson, it is one that has stuck with me. So it must have worked. And in my opinion, that is teaching at its finest.
So next time you judge someone based on their culture, gender, religion, etc, just imagine what it feels like to be them. Imagine seven year old you being told you can only use the broken crayons whilst the other students, who are no different to you and for no given reason, get to use all the new ones. And think about how bad it would make you feel (…and how bad your drawing would look compared to those of privilege).
And since that day I have never forgotten what discrimination is or how it feels to be on ‘the other side’.