Black Lives Matter: Auckland teacher goes viral with lesson on racism
A Kiwi primary school teacher has proven it's possible to tackle the topic of racism with kids as young as 6.
In a video posted to her Instagram page, Samantha Richards shared how she discusses differences between people with her class. The video has since had over 83,000 views on Instagram.
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In the video, she explains to the kids that it doesn't matter how people look on the outside, rather it's the brain and heart that matter.Advertisement Advertise with NZME.
Richards teaches a Year 2 class at an Auckland school and says George Floyd's death and the Black Lives Matter movement prompted her to develop ways to teach anti-racism in her classroom.
She told how a study by researchers Katie Ishizuka and Ramón Stephens - titled The Cat is Out of the Bag: Orientalism, AntiBlackness, and White Supremacy in Dr. Seuss's Children's Books - showed that kids as young as 3 can copy racial prejudices from the adults in their lives.
"After reading that I knew I had to do more than just model kindness and tolerance in my classroom," Richards told the Herald.
"My students have loved it! We talk about showing kindness every day. We've started learning about each other's cultures and we're reading books about people of different races. For example, we've read The Proudest Blue by Ibthija Muhammad and Moorhead by Selina Tusitala Marsh. These stories have sparked beautiful conversations about what makes us unique."View this post on Instagram
I’ve been thinking a lot about the quote, be the change you want to see in the world. As a teacher I believe my job goes beyond reading, writing and maths. I truly feel that I have a responsibility to model and teach compassion, empathy and tolerance. My goal is to produce students that can think critically, are anti-racist, loving and kind. It’s a big task. But I am more than willing to work at it all year long. Every year. For my entire career as a teacher. Because these kids are our future and this will matter even when the protests end and the social media posts slow down ?
Richards says feedback from parents has been "incredible".
"I've received a few messages from parents saying that their children have come home and expressed that they feel seen, important and loved. It's encouraging for me to hear that the conversations that we have in class continue on at home."
After lockdown, when the kids came back to class, Richards says they were "bickering endlessly", but that she had seen a shift in the atmosphere after she started talking to them about kindness and tolerance.
"Our class has never felt so warm and joyful."Advertisement Advertise with NZME.
Richards says it's important to have conversations about race with young children.
"To me it seems far easier to raise anti-racist children than to reprogramme harmful racist behaviours later on in their adult lives."