Byron's Babbles

Different As Dilly Bars – 2nd Edition

Posted in Education, Education Reform by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 9, 2014

IMG_0537.JPGWith the end of October came the end of National Antibullying Month. In my opinion, however, every month should be antibullying month. What was fun for me was to bring an activity I had done in the past to my new school system, Hoosier Academies. A few years ago I did a project called Different As Dilly Bars. Click here to read the post I wrote then. Our theme this year was that we are all 99.9% the same. Genetically, we are all 99.9% the same and it is only the .10% that makes us different. Just like there are five different flavors of Dilly Bars: chocolate, butterscotch, Heath Bar, cherry, and mint; they are all vanilla on the inside and the only difference is the flavor they are dipped in. It was exciting to bring all the students together at our elementary school, middle school, and high school and talk to each group about how our differences are really our strengths. It is really asset based thinking – the fact that we all bring strengths to every situation we are in. Again, our strength lies in our differences not in our similarities.

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I talked to the students about how there are five different flavors of Dilly Bars, but there is no, one best flavor. If I like Butterscotch and you like chocolate it doesn’t make one Dilly Bar better than the other. The strength is in the fact that we have both to choose from and you can have what you like best and I can have what I like best. The students were then able to pick a Dilly Bar flavor of their choice to eat!

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People should be recognized and respected for who they are individually, who they are as defined by the characteristics they possess, and who they are as part of the groups to which they belong. At a minimum, when we think about diversity, we need to consider not only race but gender, religion, physical challenges, economic status, age, disability, sexual orientation, and learning differences. Indeed, some people define themselves not by their race but by one or more of these other descriptors. And, as I said earlier all of those differences become our strength when we all come together. Human diversity is what we espouse to embrace, but seldom do fully embrace. The 21st & 1/2 Century begs for an understanding among peoples and cultures. We have a mandate to teach our students the importance of attaining this understanding with an open mind and a willingness to challenge old beliefs.

Every student has unique cultural experiences, types and amounts of schooling, varied interests, and preferred ways of learning. As students learn, they approach each task with the beliefs, values, and information acquired through their respective backgrounds and knowledge of the world. It is exciting to me that they bring a wealth of experiences, knowledge of vocabulary and concepts, and hopes and dreams to the classroom. It is our job as educators to facilitate a way for our students to express this knowledge and their aspirations in a safe and nurturing environment. With asset based thinking teachers remove barriers to learning and replace them with sound pedagogical practices and culturally competent learning environment. Students’ differences are viewed as assets and respected when planning quality instruction and all students have opportunities to make connections between prior knowledge and new learning, build on existing schema, be active participants in a community of learners, and have numerous opportunities to converse and interact with peers and adults. Above all, in an asset driven classroom and school, all students are provided numerous opportunities to experience success.

Remember, we are different as Dilly Bars. But, it is in those differences we find our strengths.

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