When we choose to discuss difficult topics such as adultism and other forms of inequity with our students, we are responsible for setting a tone that is hopeful. We can do so by conveying our belief that given the necessary information and with awareness, people’s attitudes can change.
Those whose actions and words are discriminatory, towards young people or other groups, have learned this way of thinking and acting. Someone who lives in an environment in which such behaviour is acceptable may have more difficulty changing. As students witness or learn about inequity in all its forms, this can be discouraging, particularly for marginalized students who experience such inequity to a greater degree.
It is important, however, to believe in change and in people’s capacity to learn new ways of being. We can express this through explicit statements and messages that are positive, and by our approach in addressing inequity and discrimination during the discussion. As teachers, we are significant role models for our students.
"Wow. That word really hurts people. What did you really mean when you used that word? What were you trying to say?"
- While facilitating a discussion about youth empowerment or a related topic, what did I notice about my own internal reactions to students and their comments?
- Were there some students whose views made me feel more comfortable or less so?
- As a facilitator, how did I manage my own internal reactions to students and their different viewpoints?