Last October we introduced four fun learning characters Tuka, Waaba, Maco and Soca whose personalities and learning styles are as quirky and different as the way they each look. However, one of the key qualities they all share is embracing diversity. To understand why, let’s take a closer look at the significance of diversity and its role in early education.
Diversity is far from a ‘buzz word’. It’s a term which describes the dynamic and vibrant landscape our societies and neighbourhoods are evolving into because of globalization, which is interconnecting us and bringing the world closer. Understanding, respecting and navigating through our differences is a key life skill which is at the intersection of communication skills, problem solving, teamwork and cultural competence. In today’s world it is really important for us to develop the skills necessary to engage positively with diversity, and help kids do the same.
Children are not born with bias, but they learn it starting from a very young age. Drawing the Future, a report published by the U.K. based charity Education and Employers, has found career aspirations in primary school children to be shaped by gender stereotypes, socio-economic backgrounds and TV, film and radio. According to over 20,000 children between the ages 7-11 years from 13 countries across the world, having successful role models is what mostly influenced the decision of who they wanted to be in the future. More interestingly these career aspirations appear to change very little as children grow up, remaining quite similar even when they reach the age of 18.
The problem is you can’t be what you can’t see. As shown in the film, Redraw the Balance, when 66 eight-year-olds were asked to draw a surgeon, a firefighter and pilot, 61 of the children drew men and 5 drew women. According to researchers from the Equality of Opportunity Project in the U.S., boys from white, upper-class backgrounds were more likely to be inventors. Furthermore, white children were three times as likely as black children to hold patents in the U.S., while girls only held 18%. Sadly what all these studies highlight is a harmful trend of being able to predict a little child’s future based on his or her ‘social status’.
This is why our fun learning characters embrace diversity and try to lead through the example of helping each other to reach their goals. It is also why we celebrate women and men from all walks of life from astronauts to renowned cellists who are using their talents to make a positive change in the world. This is why we make innovative educational content such as the Future Astronaut Program available to all at funlearning.com promoting inclusiveness and equality. Kids need role models as diverse as they are to learn innovation and success can be achieved by anyone. We want to create a world where determination, hard work and creativity decide how far you go in life. This is why diversity matters.