Sprague teachers recently discussed segregation, discrimination, and prejudice as part of their lesson on the life of Martin Luther King Jr. For young learners the lesson has to be simple while still meaningful. One teacher used students’ tastebuds to help them better understand these concepts.
Second-Grade Teacher, Sue Vani, used visuals to help students better understand segregation, discrimination, and prejudice showing them how easy it is to pre-judge someone by skin color, type of clothing they wear, hair style, and body size. To help her students better understand this concept, Mrs. Vani put samples of foods in front of students to try - creamed spinach, yams, mushrooms, avocado, and more. Students were discouraged from making any negative faces or comments about the foods they tried. It was a fun classroom contest with an important message.
“I tell my students that we all pre-judge and make assumptions at different times,” Mrs. Vani said. “We decide if we like a person, an experience, a food, etc. before we really give it a chance.”
After students tried each food, they gave it a score (1-5) to show how much they enjoyed the food. Surprisingly many students gave food high marks even though it was their first time trying the food.
Mrs. Vani added, ‘I’m not trying to tell anyone how to feel about a food. I just want them to try it and control their urge to prejudge it. The goal of this activity is to encourage students to keep an open mind about new things, in the hopes that they will not just practice this attitude with food, but in any new experience or person they encounter. I think that’s one of the core messages Dr. King tried to share in his lifetime. Imagine how much better the world would be if everyone looked at it through the lens of an open mind?”