One reason people have conflicts with others is that they have preconceived ideas about the people they disagree with. By facing their own stereotypes and then learning ways in which their opponents are similar to them, people who have disagreements can learn to work with people different from themselves to come to a compromise. This lesson helps students understand that we all hold preconceived ideas about others.
To find out what stereotypes or preconceived ideas the students have about a group of people, a place, or a topic and then analyze where these ideas come from.
Age level: All
Prepare a digital slide presentation or set of pictures that show images of a group of people, a place or other topic that challenge stereotypes such as in these examples:
Before a study of Africa show pictures that show a range of images from rainforest, tribal people, people in contemporary dress, modern cities, as well as African animals, jungles, etc.
Before a study of Native Americans show a range of images that include both historical and contemporary life.
Show the pictures or slide presentation to the class and have them write down or indicate in some way if they think the picture shows that group of people, the place or the topic. i.e.. Which pictures show Africa? Which pictures show Native Americans? Then repeat the show identifying the pictures.
Follow Up Discussion Questions:
Why was it hard to know which pictures reflected the place?
Do you think everyone has stereotyped ideas about unfamiliar places, people, and topics?
Where do we get these ideas? Have students look for examples of these stereotypes in popular media.
Research shows that it is easy to spot differences, but harder to find similarities.
Follow up by reading books that show the similarities in people. For preschool to 2nd grade share books like Everyone Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley, House and Homes and Bread, Bread Bread by Ann Morris and One Day One World by Barbara Kerley.
Older students can research different cultures in the library and on the Internet and make an oral or digital slide presentation or use flipping book software such as http://www.flipsnack.com to make a booklet to share.