Diversity in the Classroom: 4 Ways to Keep English Lessons Inclusive

Source: Gaijin Pot
Diversity in the Classroom: 4 Ways to Keep English Lessons Inclusive

I want to begin this post with a quick story. Let’s see how you would have handled this situation if you were me.

Back in 2014 I was working in an elementary school in Osaka City. My morning break was interrupted by the fourth grade teacher. She’d brought along her student, thinking that this terrified little kid might open up and speak English better when confronted with my big, fat foreign face.

“This is Ryu,” she said, nudging him forward. “He’s from Brazil.”

Having some Brazilian friends, I was intrigued to hear more.

“Oh, really,” I said. “What part of Brazil are you from?”

The kid gazed at me, bewildered. I repeated the question, this time in Japanese. He just shook his head. I tried a different angle.

“Where were you born?” I asked him in Japanese.

“Osaka,” he answered.

“Have you ever been to Brazil?” I asked him.

“No,” he replied.

“Oh, well, then you’re Japanese.”

“Yes.” He smiled.

His teacher interrupted. “No. His father is from Brazil so he’s not Japanese — he’s Brazilian.”

At this point I asked the boy, who could clearly understand we were talking about him, to wait outside.

‘No. His father is from Brazil so he’s not Japanese — he’s Brazilian.’

I said to his teacher: “Look, I don’t know what point you’re trying to prove but this boy has never been to Brazil, he knows little about the place, he was born in Japan, has lived here his whole life and he even has a Japanese name. This kid himself says he is Japanese. Why is that a problem for you?”

The teacher just gave me a dismissive look: “Well, you’re not Japanese, so I don’t expect you to understand.”

Some might call it racism, some might call it bigotry. I tend to think it’s a blend of the two, with a large scoop of willful ignorance …continue reading