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You Can't Celebrate That!

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.
Rumi, 1207-1273, Persian Poet

Hearing a child’s unfiltered comment about race and religion directed at another child in her class, Nadia Jaboneta was momentarily stunned:

“I thought of the dozens of anti-bias trainings and workshops I had been to, and the anti-bias workshops that I had facilitated with my colleague, Brian. During all of these trainings, we’d explored how young children learn about race. We practiced ways that we could respond to children when comments about race or other differences came up. But this wasn’t a workshop; this was real life, with real children with real feelings about their family and cultural identities. I wasn’t practicing now, and I wanted to get it right. But here I was, at this crucial moment at the lunch table, tongue tied from nervousness!”

With deep reflection, Jaboneta pursued courageous conversations about race, racism, and religious diversity with children, parents and colleagues and ultimately crafted a learning story as a starting point for further conversations. In it, she writes,

“In the Coyote classroom, we value celebrating diversity, traditions, and holidays. Educators and parents have learned that, between the ages of three and five, children begin to develop stereotypes about themselves and others. Children are influenced by everything that they see around them (television, books, advertisements, adult behavior, etc.). As the adults in these children’s lives, it is our responsibility to help children respect each other, themselves, and all people.

Jaboneta’s account and the entire learning story are included in the short book You Can’t Celebrate That!, part of the Reimagining Our Work (ROW) book collection. Join Jaboneta and co-hosts Sara Gilliam and Kirsten Haugen in a live online Engaging Exchange exploring themes from the book on November 29, 7-8:30 PM US Eastern time.

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