Sharing Isn't Enough
Beyond Integration: How Teachers Can Encourage Cross-Racial Friendships
by Kendra Yoshinaga
NPR.org, July 12, 2016
Teachers play a crucial role in helping students forge, develop and retain cross-racial friendships, especially during adolescence, which tends to be a time when children increase same-race friendships and decrease cross-racial ones. Overviewing a recent Early Adolescent Development Study (EADS) led by Elise Cappella at NYU, Yoshinaga highlights the positive effects of cross-racial friendships on students’ academic ambitions, social adjustment and constructive interactions. With mindfulness that racial identities affect students’ experiences in the classroom, teachers should be intentional about groupings and partnerships, cultivating a warm and responsive atmosphere of respect and trust. Sharing the classroom isn’t enough, Yoshinaga emphasizes; the key is in having students collaborate – not compete – with one another. This article is a helpful reminder of the impact classroom learning has on our world, along with the teacher’s role in developing students’ abilities to know and work with different people. Yoshinaga offers practical tips for fostering the cross-cultural contact – in and beyond the classroom – that is essential to both human development and global citizenry.