Students will inevitably begin to talk about racism and prejudice. Make sure they understand the definitions for both. Provide students with a definition for racism and for prejudice. Here are some examples:
Racism—to feel superior to a group of people from another race because they possess qualities or abilities that are different
Prejudice—an unfounded hatred, fear, or mistrust of people of another religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, or social status based on inaccurate stereotypes, irrational feelings, or insufficient knowledge of that group of people
Move students into small groups and ask them to discuss the issues on their lists. They can respond to the issues by answering some of the following questions:
- Why did the characters respond this way?
- How were they treated?
- Who was responsible?
- What happened as a result?
- What does it mean to be fair?
- How should people behave?
Make sure to not impress your own personal beliefs on students and explain why it is important to respect everyone’s belief system. Provide students with one final definition:
Tolerance—the acceptance of views which differ from our own
If discussing topics such as ethics, racism, prejudice, and tolerance is a touchy subject in your school or classroom, broach the subject in a different manner. Incorporate picture books, try role-playing scenarios, or read about non-fiction historic accounts. These topics are not pleasant to discuss, but they are necessary, and if presented in the proper way, students will be able to make their own informed decisions about the world around them.