LCS staff and students, united with hundreds of schools across British Columbia, will be exploring learning on racism awareness this next week.
Here is a draft of our Welcome Statement that helps frame our posture as a Christian learning community for our education week:
Welcome. We are a Christian teaching and learning community that celebrates the diversity of our students as part of God’s design and intention for the world. We aspire to be a place of belonging and connection, and a people who model our lives on Christ, seeking justice, reconciliation and restoration by learning from and welcoming the vulnerable and marginalized. We strive to be a place that educates and equips ourselves, students and families, to be understanding of difference and embody dignity, respect, grace and God’s unconditional love.
Why is this week of learning important to us as a Christian school? Why do we engage with learning about anti-racism and bullying?
Our week of anti-racism learning begins with a look at Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is a holiday in the United States to honour the life and legacy of a man who made it his life’s work to end racial segregation and guarantee civil rights for black Americans. A baptist minister, acting on his Christian faith, he organized nonviolent protests and marches with like-minded young people and burgeoning civil rights leaders. He was consistently a target of violence and hatred himself, and on April 4, 1968 he was assassinated in his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee. The holiday that bears his name is celebrated each year on the third Monday of January. He famously shared at his March on Washington speech on August 28, 1963, “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” The echoes to our theme passage this year and the hope of God continuing to reveal himself in our community through learning make it significant for us to explore.
When our world is engaged with such learning and conversations about justice, peace, and equality, we must ask, what is the response of our Christian learning community?
We believe that God’s kingdom is a multi-generational, mulit-ethnic, diverse group of people and that racism neglects the beauty that God has woven into each of us. When we look to our theme passage this year from Micah 6:8, “What does the Lord require of you, but to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God,” we acknowledge that we need to continue to grow in what it means to be like Christ. Education is one such means for thinking about our individual, group, and community contribution to systemic issues of racism, bullying, and inequities. So then, how can we promote God’s shalom peace in the world?
Why is celebrating diversity an extension of our response?
Diversity helps us to see how God has created us uniquely. It is about the variety of dimensions, qualities and characteristics we all possess. Diversity means more than just acknowledging and/or tolerating differences. It is a practice that we do with thought and intention. Diversity involves:
- Understanding how everyone is connected and dependent on each other
- Practicing respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own
- Appreciating how others experience and understand the world differently from how we experience and understand it
- Recognizing that discrimination creates and sustains privileges for some while creating and sustaining disadvantages for others
- Coming together despite our differences so that we can work together to get rid of all forms of discrimination.
This last point above – coming together despite our differences – is reflected over and over again in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul shares the following in his letters to various churches about the need for unity and diversity:
- For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)
- There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
- Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:11)
Coming together despite our differences does not mean that we forget or overlook the experiences, qualities, and characteristics each of us has. It also does not mean that we ignore the systems and structures in place that create and sustain privileges for some and disadvantages for others. It means that we are compelled to work together as one united, diverse, body of Christ that calls out systems of oppression when it sees them, and celebrates the qualities and experiences of everyone:
- If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you”…If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. (1 Corinthians 12:15-21, 26).
What will the learning look like this week?
This upcoming week of January 17-21, teachers are integrating authentic and meaningful connections that already exist in their curriculum to help students engage with some of the concepts (building empathy, learning through story, acknowledging and reflecting on our own biases and assumptions, bullying, racism, perspective-taking, assessing use of language and humour to build others up or tear others down, using kindness, including others, and evaluating messages presented in culture). Students will engage in a range of learning that addresses how those concepts help them to think about a Christian response to bullying and racism to take up Micah 6:8 and Jesus’ radical acceptance of all people.
If you are interested in checking out some books with your children, our Teacher Librarians have a collection of titless that are set out. We hope this week will compliment what are are already doing in our teaching and learning to create spaces where each child recognizes their part in our school community.
K- Gr. 5 – Mrs. Van Hemert and Mrs. Hlady have pulled out and made available a number of resources in the library.
Gr. 6-12 – Here are some titles recommended by Mrs. Friesen, our Grade 6-12 Teacher Librarian.
- “Uncomfortable Conversations” by Emmanuel Acho
- “This Books is anti-racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action and Do the Work” by Tiffany Jewell
- “I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness” by Austin Channing Brown
Online Resources from Mrs. Friesen:
Here are some on helping educators educate students on bullying: