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Posted on March 15, 2015 12:03 am
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Kristin Doyon
Kristin Doyon
Reps: 108
Preparing Small-Town Students for the Big World
A teacher spent most of her career working at a 5-A high school in the suburbs of a large city. She has relocated to a different state and now teaches at a 1-A high school in a very small, rural town. Many of her gifted/honors students would like to go to major universities; however, many of the gifted/honors students express extreme narrow-mindedness in class discussions. The teacher has tried and tried to explain what living in a large metropolitan area is like, in addition to the countless explanations that "not everyone would agree" with the students' perspectives. These narrow-minded perspectives range from the non-acceptance of various races, homosexuality, and religion. Students will only whisper the word "atheist," because they believe it is so bad. One student expressed that "if the coins in the U.S. say 'in God we trust,' how come we can't kick out the homosexuals?" How can this teacher help prepare her students for the big world outside of this tiny town?
 
     
     
 
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Solution 1
Posted March 15, 2015 2:48 am

qaqyvy
qaqyvy
Reps: 135
This is a tough situation. I would say the best thing to try would be to discuss "real world" matters through current events. I find that when I bring up current events on topics that deal with religion, sexuality, and/or race that students are quick to jump to a similar point of view because we live in a small rural town in the South. I tend to play devils advocate with them to get them to think outside of the box that they have grown up in. I use examples from my own life about how "eye opening" college/real world is. I find that these current event discussions are an easy way to bring up topics that they do not know much about and/or have negative beliefs about. These discussions can be a stepping stone to a changed attitude.
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Comments posted for this solution

neHaGy
neHaGy
Reps: 200
This is an great solution! i will definitely use this in my classroom.
  Posted on: October 2, 2015 6:28 pm

baQumy
baQumy
Reps: 100
Great idea!
  Posted on: October 15, 2015 4:34 pm

Kady Schlemmer
Kady Schlemmer
Reps: 202
I appreciate that you are bringing real world situations to the classroom. It is important for kids to know that, while it is ok to disagree with something going on, it does not give them the right to snub those with different thoughts or life choices. You are doing the students a favor by showing them the real world.
  Posted on: July 9, 2016 3:27 pm

Kathy Allen
Kathy Allen
Reps: 100
This is a good idea! It is important to put a real-world context with some social things.
  Posted on: February 23, 2018 8:07 pm

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Solution 2
Posted October 17, 2015 8:19 pm

ySudyG
ySudyG
Reps: 166
I work in a town like the one you described. Very conservative. Very un-accepting. One thing I have tried to appeal to my students is debate. My students love to argue- about anything! So, during different points of the year, I have given them topics from legalizing marijuana to the importance of workers unions- they have even recently debated Germany's acceptance of Syrian refugees. The students are assigned an opinion to defend and they must do so with facts and research. Being forced to look at the other sign of the coin, to research an opinion that may very well differ from their own, has been outstanding in giving students the ability to look past their own opinion or prejudice. Many students, after doing research on their own opinion, have changed realized they did not understand their own beliefs.

The other thing I have done that is much more difficult is going international. My school is lucky enough to have a German/American exchange program in which the students live with a German family for three weeks. During this time students are exposed to opinions, cultures and habits very different from their own and they usually come back much more tolerant. I know it isn't an option for all schools but I really believe the exposure to other beliefs is important.
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Solution 3
Posted March 15, 2015 3:48 pm

XyGady
XyGady
Reps: 106
This is quite a difficult situation. However, I think it can be solved by simple positive reinforcement of activities and open discussions where students are able to express their views, analyze those views, and participate in activities where they are able to see how they relate and are similar to students that are belong to these types of categories in society. I think the teacher should first conduct an activity where students are able to recognize how they feel and why. Often times, the opinions of children stem from their parents. Once the students have begun to understand the root of the perspective, they can be able to then analyze the pros and cons of their opinion. Next, I feel it would be better for them to see how they relate to these students through positive, interactive activities. The overall mission of the lesson is to get students to celebrate the similarities amongst themselves and other people while recognizing their differences without criticism.
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Comments posted for this solution

neHaGy
neHaGy
Reps: 200
This is an great solution! i will definitely use this in my classroom.
  Posted on: October 2, 2015 6:28 pm

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Solution 4
Posted March 15, 2015 9:10 pm

yqeSeL
yqeSeL
Reps: 102
I believe exposing them to what the world has to offer is the best possible strategy, apart from, placing them in the actual setting they "wish" to one day reside in. Exposure to all the "differences" of the world and trying to encourage students to respect one another no matter, race, ethnicity or gender is definitely important in implementing during daily lessons. Use role play to help encourage students that they have to give respect in order to gain it.
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Comments posted for this solution

neHaGy
neHaGy
Reps: 200
This is an great solution! i will definitely use this in my classroom.
  Posted on: October 2, 2015 6:28 pm

Kady Schlemmer
Kady Schlemmer
Reps: 202
Role play is a great idea! Thank you for sharing.
  Posted on: July 9, 2016 3:29 pm

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Solution 5
Posted October 4, 2015 6:43 pm

VeHyge
VeHyge
Reps: 229
From having experience of growing up in a small town (2500 population), I think that the teacher is just explaining and not actually showing what she is talking about. I feel like if she could use her knowledge and show visuals such as pictures, videos, and maybe assign a assignment for the students to do research on what it's like to live in the big world, this could open their mind.
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Solution 6
Posted October 17, 2015 8:43 pm

duryvy
duryvy
Reps: 76
It looks as if these students need more exposure to the world outside of their own. I think they would benefit from reading various current events articles simply to gain an idea of what is going on around them. Kelly Gallagher posts an 'article of the week' every week that are made for students, so this could be a good start. The teacher could also share TED Talk videos or videos of a similar premise so students can see lives, troubles, and experiences outside of their own.
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Solution 7
Posted March 1, 2016 4:26 am

Beqena
Beqena
Reps: 100
This teacher can explain that there is so much more to life than their town. She can also use real life demonstrations and scenarios to keep students engaged.
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Solution 8
Posted October 18, 2015 6:23 pm

runyJu
runyJu
Reps: 76
Several people have mentioned current events. Divide your students up and have them research the two different sides of the event and then allow them to use that information in a debate or class discussion. Maybe they won't change their minds, but their minds will be opened to the realities of the world.
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Solution 9
Posted October 12, 2016 12:38 am

yNubas
yNubas
Reps: 101
My solution would be to teach them about the world around them and show them that each and everyone is unique and this is how some people live for example in the big cities and this is how people live in Islands. The more knowledge a student has about the world around them the more accepting they will become.
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Solution 10
Posted October 16, 2015 6:38 pm

Hudyja
Hudyja
Reps: 84
Show the students the "world" outside of their town as much as possible. Teach them lots about colleges and so forth to help strive to do things other than what their small town has.
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