At Park School, we realize the education is about what we say, what we teach and what we demonstrate. And, education is also about what we fail to discuss, what we fail to show, and what we fail to share.
Our nation, currently, is undergoing such turmoil. While this is not unlike what we have seen in our nation’s past, we bear witness to our current conditions, especially, of Islamophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments.
A number of my colleagues, parents and friends have approached me to ask how to support our students, families, and coworkers who identify as Muslim. Especially during this conflicting time of both peace and of fear, many allies are seeking proactive ways to honor the humanity and dignity of others. This is not a political statement, rather a way for us to consider, as a Park School community of teachers and learners, how to best honor and role model the humanity and dignity of others.
I recently came across a post from a Muslim woman who wrote simply and eloquently about how to be an ally. Her name is Sofia Ali-Khan and she has provided a number of helpful suggestions in this link here.
I’m also often asked how to talk about what’s going on in our country with our youngest scholars — our elementary school children who may or may not even know what is happening in our country.
First, know that our children hear you. Even if you are whispering, talking after they have long gone to bed, or turn up the radio in the car ride home while on the phone or talking to an adult passenger, they hear you.
Second, our young scholars see you. They see if you have crossed the street when you see a person in hijab or niquab coming towards you. They see you avoid eye contact — or, stare intently — at a person with dark skin. They see you smile at a family and say “Good morning” as you walk into school. Our youngest scholars, they see you.
Third, our young scholars want to learn from you. They want to read books with you, see beautiful images of people, and hear about children from other faiths, practices, cultures, countries, and towns. Our incredible library faculty have put together a display of books that include and address issues of Islam and Middle Eastern communities. Our young scholars, they want to learn with you.
Today in kindergarten, Ms. Dunn Rossi chose a book for read aloud called Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns which has beautifully rich colors that her young scholars could identify. The book also highlights images that are found in Muslim communities. The children were able to learn about women in hijab, men in kufi, and families in prayer. And, they were able to connect the colors that they use every day in her class.
Thank you for asking how to be better allies and for engaging in respect and kindness for all.
Peace and Park,