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Educating Open-Minded Students

Children are born without bias. As infants, they don’t care about race, gender, religion (or lack thereof), sexual orientation or cultural identity. As they grow, any prejudice they exhibit regarding others could be the result of learning via observation. That means if you wish to educate students who are nonjudgmental; you must first take a look in the mirror. You must also understand that the key to building relationships and educating nonjudgmental students is through the development of trust and communication. 

Students are more likely to be open and welcoming to others if they are exposed to a diversity-rich environment and able to cultivate friendships with children of many different backgrounds. In addition to exposing students to an environment that is diverse, it is important to talk honestly and openly about the many wonderful differences that make everyone unique. Discussing these differences can make the unfamiliar less scary and threatening, which can help reduce prejudice. 

Practicing empathy and compassion through role-playing is one way to help ensure that students are open and welcoming to others. Start by having your students express concern for someone (perhaps you) if they’ve been injured or had some other misfortune befall them. This is also a good opportunity to reinforce the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want them to treat you. 

For more help teaching empathy, use Boys Town National Training's FREE lesson plans

You should also look for teachable moments along the way. If you see someone who’s being mistreated because of their differences, explain to students why this is wrong. If students say something derogatory about another child because he or she has a physical impairment, explain what that impairment is and that he or she is not “weird” or “dumb” but simply “different,” and different is okay. 

Lastly, you should reward good behavior. Try to “catch your students being good.” When he or she exhibits extraordinary tolerance or genuine concern for another, offer verbal praise, a high five or another positive gesture. 

Though babies are born without bias, nonjudgmental adults are raised and educated, not born. As a teacher, you can have a powerful impact on assisting your students to become nonjudgmental adults. 

To read more, check out The Judgmental Flower.

Jan 11th 2021 Julia Cook, Boys Town Press Author and Former School Counselor

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