Building Bridges Newsletter

Newsletter Two

This is one of a series of newsletters written by Peter Porr and Paul Sjordal between September 1993 and December 1995 for the purpose of explaining the South-East Asia Center’s Building Bridge’s objectives, philosophy, and approach to learning.

Multicultural Educational Resources

In our first newsletter, we explained the new perspective on multicultural education that is being developed by a team of educators at the South-East Asia Center in the Uptown area of Chicago.  This newsletter will provide a review of the best multicultural educational resources that were used by the Center’s team to help develop their curriculum for grades 1-3 and 7-8.

The vast majority of the material reviewed appeared to be intended for suburban, not inner city students and therefore not effective for the Uptown pilot program.  Some ethnocentric material was considered counterproductive because it would more likely create divisiveness rather than unity.  Other material was rejected, because it seemed more theoretical than classroom-tested.  The best  material was from authors who had collected material and activities from teachers who had tested and refined their ideas in the classroom.

The team found the Illinois Prevention Resources Center Library at 720 N. Franklin, north of the Merchandise Mart, to be an excellent source of curriculum material.


COOPERATION: Learning Through Laughter, Charlene C. Wenc, American Institute of Alderian Studies, Ltd., Chicago, 1986: Contains 45 cooperation activities that help students learn to work together better.  The games help transform a classroom into an encouraging emotional environment.  The activities have been tested with groups of all ages in various settings.  They are useful in school, church, scouts, clubs, or any organization where group  cohesiveness needs to be developed and maintained.

SELF-ESTEEM: What To Say  When You Talk To Yourself , Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D., Grindle Press 1986: This book shows people of all ages the most positive, esteem building way of talking to ourselves.  It shows the individual self-improvement that can come from self-talk that is kind, loving, caring, strong, demanding and determined. It shows how negative self-talk placed in our brains by ourselves and others can be changed into positive, habit-changing, positive self-talk.  Dr. Helmstetter shows how to program ourselves for victory rather than defeat.

Enhancing Self Esteem, Diane Frey, Ph.D., and C. Jesse Carlock, Ph.D., Accelerated Development Inc., Muncie, Indiana, 1989: Discusses factors  influencing self-concept development, psychological pathogens, the characteristics of fully functioning individuals, the family social system, support networks, interpersonal skills, communication stances, strokes, and cognitive distortions.  Contains numerous group and individual activities.

MULTICULTURAL: Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children, Louise Derman-Sparks and the A.B.C. Task Force, National Association for the Education of Young Children, Washington D.C., 1989: The book represents the work of a task force of early childhood educators with a variety of racial ethnic and class backgrounds.  This value-based, anti-bias curriculum embraces an educational philosophy as well as specific techniques and content.

A World of Difference: Teacher/Student Resource Guide (Two volumes, grades K-6 and 7-12), The Anti-Defamation League, Chicago, 1986: Contains curricular guidelines, themes and instructional activities that support them.  The only drawback to this excellent publication is that many of the activities seem to be suburban versus inner city oriented.

Black and White, Styles in Conflict, Thomas Kochman, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1981: The author taught a course for many years in black and white race relations before writing his book.  His book addresses the meaning and value black and white cultures attach to their own and to each other’s behavior.  It looks at how the fundamental aspects of cultural customs and communication patterns have meanings and values that can easily be misunderstood.

Helping Children Choose, George M. Schuncke and Suzanne I,.  Krogh, Scott, Forsman and Company, Glenview, Illinois: Helps children K-3 learn the art of rational decision making. Thirty-four class-tested decision stories contain dilemmas frequently encountered  by young children.

Helping Kids Learn Multi-Cultural Concepts, Michael G. Pasternak, Research Press Company, Champaign, Illinois, 1979: Activities in this book were developed by a diverse group of people including professors, graduate students, community personnel, school principals and classroom teachers.  The creators wanted to expose their students to alternative lifestyles and cultural options, to develop understanding and appreciation for the validity of others’ ethnicity and to fill the education voids that most students have concerning cultural and ethnic diversity.

CONFLICT RESOLUTION: Learning The Skills of Peacemaking, Naomi Drew, Jalmar Press, Rolling Hills Estates, California, 1987: A book filled with concrete activities that allow children to learn self-awareness, sensitivity to others, mediation, compromise and cooperative problem-solving. Her classroom-tested methods contain five key ideas: peace begins within each individual; peace can be spread through cooperation once we have an understanding of ourselves and others; we are all interconnected-all part of the “human family”; conflicts can be resolved through non-violent means; and each of us is responsible for finding and using peaceful options.

Creative Conflict Resolution, William J. Kriedler, Scott, Foresman and Company, Glenview, Illinois, 1984: This very practical book offers more than 2OO classroom-tested activities for use with children in kindergarten through the sixth grade.  The book begins with a chapter entitled, “Understanding Conflict” and then proceeds to a series of chapters with suggestions, exercises, and games related to specific types of Conflicts; student vs. teacher conflicts; and conflicts between teachers and other teachers, administrators, or parents; peacemaking; communications; handling anger, frustration and aggression; and tolerance.

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