Amid growing awareness of long-entrenched racism in the United States, many schools are taking steps to create a more inclusive environment. But it’s unrealistic to aim for a scenario where students and teachers get everything right, says Eric Abrams, chief inclusion officer at Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE).
“We all make mistakes,” he says. “It's impossible for any of us to understand every single nuance of every culture, every faith, every sexual orientation, every ability status that exists in the world.”
On this episode of School’s In, Abrams joins GSE Dean Dan Schwartz and Senior Lecturer Denise Pope to talk about what a more inclusive school or campus can look like and how to move toward that vision, including ways to help kids learn to fight racism in their own communities.
Abrams says his job is not to change people’s minds or to tell them how to think. It’s to help them be more conscious of the actions they take.
“I don't think it's possible to make a space that's going to be safe in terms of nobody ever having their feelings hurt or being offended by something that happens,” he says.
But it’s important, he says, for people to develop the capacity to face their misstep with grace and to learn how to apologize in a meaningful way. “It ought to be okay to make a mistake and have somebody call you on it,” he says.
Learning these skills takes time, he says—a lifetime, even. ”If we can put conversations about equity, diversity and inclusion in the category of lifelong learning, we'll all be much better off.”
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