Since it’s Black History Month, educators are trying to come up with innovative ways to teach kids about Black culture and experience.
Natasha Mentore, acting principal at St-John Fisher elementary in Pointe Claire, who is Black, started a workshop that she says kids can easily identify with, and help boost the self-confidence of some students.
She’s teaching them about the realities of her kind of hair.
“It’s just something a little bit more practical that Black men and women face on a daily basis,” she told Global New following a morning workshop Thursday.
She said that includes putting a hand in someone else’s hair.
“Touching hair is something that happens a lot,” she explains. “Adults touch kids hair, kids touch each other’s hair.”
She said with her workshops, she wants to acknowledge the kids’ curiousity about each other’s differences while teaching them to be respectful and accepting.
“Whether our hair is straight, whether our hair is curly, we really are human beings first,” she insisted.
Kindergarten teacher Katherine Mohamed agrees, saying the students use the workshops to connect with each other differently.
“We live in a world that’s very colourful,” she pointed out, “and I think it’s important that they notice and acknowledge the differences.”
Mohamed said she also hopes the workshop will help at least one of her students another way. Five year-old Mia Legault-Symonds, who is bi-racial, has naturally curly hair. According to her teacher, the child said she prefers it straight.
“To be like the other girls with straight hair,” explained Mohamed.
“I like it because it’s beautiful,” Legault-Symonds pointed out. There are knots in my hair when it’s curly.”
The principal thinks for too many kids, especially those of colour, the image of beauty they often see is straight hair.
“I think it’s sad that they feel that the standard of beauty isn’t what they see when they look in the mirror,” Mentore noted.
She observed that it’s not the parent’s or teachers’ fault, necessarily, but just the way that society is.
But Mohamed stressed that the workshops help reinforce the idea that being different is beautiful. According to her, the child’s classmates are learning that lesson already by what they say when Legault-Symonds comments about her hair.
“If they hear her say it they will make an effort to comment on how they like her hair both straight but also curly,” she smiled.
Mentore and Mohamed hope the kids learn to accept each other for who they are.