"Children do not need to learn to be better, told what to do or shown how. If they are given access to enough of the world, they will see clearly enough what things are truly important to themselves and to others, and they will make for themselves a better path into that world than anyone else could make for them." John Holt
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Homeschool Blogging Carnival hosted by Lisa at Unschooling Momma. This month our participants are talking about Multiculturalism.
Being an unschooling family we tend to learn things naturally from the world around us and multiculturalism is no exception. Here are a few of the ways our children have learned about different cultures over the years.
1. Food. I easily get bored if I find myself eating the same foods over and over. I will often scour the internet for recipes or become interested in a cook book at the library that has recipes from other cultures. My two favorite types of food are Chinese and Mexican. Over the years we have learned to make foods from different cultures as we became interested in them, for example when my children were younger we often celebrated the Chinese New Year and as a result learned to make many Chinese dishes, eat with chopsticks, and even made our own homemade fortune cookies. For St. Patrick's Day we have made an entire Irish menu with authentic Irish soda bread. When we did a study on Indians we made different dishes from the different Indian tribes, when the children were interested in how others around the world celebrated Christmas we made foods from various countries that would have been eaten at their celebrations.
2. Friends. One of the advantages of being a family that has moved around quite a bit is the fact that we have been able to meet friends from different countries. Through my husband's work we were able to friend a man and his wife who were Filipino. Having grown up in the Philippines he would often tell the kids stories of what it was like to grow up in his village for example how the village came together to prepare a dinner as one and how all of them were poor and would eat the dinner on big banana leaves and then eat the banana leaves after wards. We would visit and eat many cultural dishes in their home and this is where we learned how to make authentic spring rolls. When he went home to visit he returned with a gift for us, a handmade rain stick from his village. We also had several friends that came over from Mexico. My daughter, Dora, became quite fascinated in learning Spanish because of hearing them speak it so often and they would often teach her Spanish words and phrases. Dora and I also learned how to make one of our favorites when we were over for dinner one night, Mexican Cornbread.
3. Shopping, Museums. We lived several years in Denver, Co in what was considered the "Mexican" part of town, which meant their were many shops and grocery stores where you could go and shop for foods and goods that were shipped from Mexico. We tried many new foods and saw things you wouldn't normally see in the local Walmart like cactus. I had never known until this time that people ate cactus. Also living in a big city with a lot of Mexican neighbors we were able to experience Cinco De Mayo in a way we never had before with parades and Mexican flags and music. One of our favorite places to go and visit was the Denver Art Museum, where we were able to experience works of art made from people all over the world. Not long ago in a small town near where we live here in TN while stopping at a park to picnic we ran upon a part of the park that had once been part of the the route taken by the Cherokees on the "Trail of Tears". These are just a few of the examples, I could probably write pages of the things we have seen and experiencedover the years that have opened up our eyes to different cultures around us!
4. Movies. Our family loves movies. We watch several movies a week as a family. As a result many of our movies have opened up our eyes to new cultures. Two recent examples I remember are "The Book Thief" and "12 Years As A Slave". In "The Book Thief" a young German girl steals books at book burnings during World War 2. The children had many questions about the Germans, Nazis, and that time period because of the movie. In "12 Years As A Slave" the children saw the harsh realities of the slave trade and what it was like to be an African American slave in America years ago.
Like I said these are just a few things. We have also collected foreign coins, studied different languages and read books about other cultures around the world. As I write this I glance and notice the learning pack from the library that is all books on Japan, not because I wanted my children to be more multicultural but because my daughter was curious and wanted to learn more about Japan.
As you can see the world has many instances for children and adults to to learn about other cultures and become a multicultural person if you are curious and interested in the world around you like we are. There is no need to seek them out as they will find there way into your life, you just have to be open to recognizing them!
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Visit The Squishable Baby to see how you can participate in the next Homeschool Blogging Carnival where we will be talking about Homeschool Mythsconceptions .
Please take the time to read the submissions by other Carnival participants:
Lisa at The Squishable Baby Will talk about Hello Education - Goodbye Fear!.
Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom Suggests great Asian American Books for Kids.
Lydia Larae from Lydia's Handmade Life will talk about Bilingual Learning.
Shelly from There is No Place Like Home will talk about Multiculturalism is More Than Our Differences.
Cordelia from Multilingual Mama will talk about how Multiculturalism is the Foundation of her Family's Homeschool Education.