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A World of Difference: Helping Children Embrace Differences and Learn Empathy

by Donna Housman
November/December 2022
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Article Link: http://exchangepress.com/article/a-world-of-difference-helping-children-embrace-differences-and-learn-empathy/5026808/

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

               —Nelson Mandela

 

One of the magical aspects of early childhood is that everything is new and open to discovery and exploration. Human development is the dynamic interaction of biology and experience. Given the plasticity of the early developing brain, it is the context and daily experiences that help to shape and inform the brain’s architecture. Children are not pre-wired with their beliefs, values, or morals. These are developed over time, including children’s knowledge of and understanding of others and of differences. 

We often assume children recognize differences from the start—the difference between red and blue, big and small, round and square. In fact, children are not born understanding differences. They are, however, born with the propensity to develop an understanding of differences. It is important to note that the formation of bias—an unfair tendency to believe that some people, experiences, or ideas are better than ...

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