Is the glass half empty or half full? Did Rhonda snub Darrell or not? Conflict often results when people perceive things differently. To resolve conflicts effectively people must be willing to acknowledge, but not necessarily agree with, another person's perception. To do this an individual must be willing to set aside momentarily his/her own perception and feelings to accurately hear the perception, feelings, and needs of another person. Acknowledging that different perceptions exist may allow disputing individuals to find common ground and work toward a resolution.
"We judge others by their actions. We judge
ourselves by our intentions."
Appreciation of Differences
"To have one's individuality completely ignored
is like being pushed quite out of life. Like being blown out as one blows
out a light."
Why is bias awareness or diversity education important when discussing conflict management? Miscommunication can result from missing and/or misinformation about other cultural groups. For example, in some cultures eye‑contact is considered respectful, while in others it is viewed as challenging or disrespectful. Awareness of cultural differences can help prevent this type of misunderstanding.
"Violence directed at individuals because of
their physical or cultural characteristics or beliefs is intolerable
in this or any other society. The public schools‑‑with the cooperation and assistance of
parents, students, business and community representatives ‑ have
the moral obligation to prevent, combat, and heal the wounds from hate
violence through curriculum and instruction, student support services and
activities, and, when necessary, direct intervention."
‑‑California State Board of Education Policy on Hate‑Motivated Violence
A central factor in many student conflicts, particularly those involving students who differ from one another economically, culturally, or by gender, is a lack of appreciation and respect for diversity. Studies have shown that children as young as three years old demonstrate gender and racial biases. These negative biases must be addressed at an early age; left unimpeded, they can evolve into prejudice, and eventually become the "isms"; i.e., racism, sexism, etc.
The importance of embracing diversity and arresting this unconscious development of bias becomes even more urgent as we enter the 21st century. As students interact more freely with other world citizens, intolerance and lack of cultural fluency will impair greatly their ability to play a meaningful role in their neighborhood, future workplace and the global arena.
The following are behaviors that students will exhibit that demonstrate their progress toward mastery of the bias awareness/appreciation of differences theme area:
- Increased awareness and appreciation of how others differ from self
- Ability to recognize commonalities between self and others
- Demonstrated understanding of how all people (all life) is interdependent
- Recognition that we all have biases
- Decreased amount of "put downs" based on differences
- Demonstrated pride in personal individuality while respecting differences in others