I would strongly argue, however, in the light of the increasing division and conflict in the world at the moment, there is a great need for as many people to be aware of this particular world day as possible, especially in schools that are not as culturally diverse. LET’S SHOUT ABOUT IT, MAKE A BIG FUSS AND NOISE, TELL AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE AND CELEBRATE OUR DIFFERENCES!!
Where should we begin?
A good place to start could be to explore what the words mean. All the terms need thought and simplification, especially for younger children.
- For a start – what do children understand by ‘the world’? What does it mean to them? Does it include the Earth, sky, stars, other planets?
- Then, who joins in on a world day? Are there any other ‘world days’ the children can think of? (They might say Christmas, Diwali, World Book Day or the World Cup final.) It is interesting to think of the one day or event that might affect the most people in the world. I wonder what that might be?
- The next difficult word is ‘cultural’ and one that might be good to explore with older children. It is a confusing word with many definitions. Two such definitions of culture are:
- ‘The culture of a particular organisation or group consists of the habits of the people in it and the way they generally behave.’ Collins English Dictionary
- ‘Culture is a word for people’s ‘way of life’, meaning the way groups do things. Different groups of people may have different cultures. A culture is passed on to the next generation by learning, whereas genetics are passed on by heredity.’ Simple English Wikipedia
With older children, get them to explore other definitions and decide which they like best, or make up their own.
- And then of course the word ‘diversity’ (which many children will have heard of as the famous dance group!) You might ask questions such as: Why do you think the dance group chose that name? Would life be easier if we were all more or less the same? Would it be easier to make friends? How much do you want your friends to be just like you? Do you want them to be different? Why?
Here are a few more thoughts about how your school could make this into a special and fun day to be remembered and celebrated.
- Have a special assembly. If possible, invite someone in (possibly from another religion) to tell the children about their life and why it might be different to theirs.
- Have a communal meal. Ask children to bring something from another part of the world. Encourage children to taste food they may not have tried.
- Play music from a different culture.
- Investigate foods different cultures eat for breakfast and create a display.
- Try learning a dance from another part of the world.
- Get each child to draw around their hand, cut it out and decorate it including pictures and/or words about what makes each of them unique. Create a lovely colourful display.
These are just a few ‘starters for ten’, I’m sure you will have many other ideas. World Day for Cultural Diversity is celebrated on May 21st every year. (This year, it actually falls on a Sunday, so for schools, it would probably need to be need to be the Friday before or the Monday after.) What a fabulous excuse to take a day out of the usual curriculum and come together as a whole school to acknowledge not only what makes us different, but also how we can come together.
With thanks to Beverley Smalley for writing this blog. Beverley is an education specialist, writer and former primary school teacher.