Two Activities on Diversity

1. Exploring Students' Similarities and Differences

Make two lists on chart paper, one for similarities and one for differences.

Ask, What characteristics can we think of that most people have in common? What are some differences among people? (Some of the things that are the same will also be different; for example, people in our society usually wear clothes, but the clothes are different.)

As the students share their ideas, keep in mind the whole spectrum of differences among people, especially the ones subject to bias (appearance, gender, race, ethnic back- ground, class, religion, physical disabilities, sexual orientation). Chances are that students will think of these, but if they don't you may want to encourage them to extend their thinking by asking them such questions as, What about the differences between boys and girls?

Students may be aware of a whole range of differences but reluctant to talk about them openly. You may have to play an active role to overcome their perception that some things are not to be discussed.

Discuss:

  • What are some observations we can make about the similarities and differences among people?
  • What's good about having things in common?
  • Are there difficulties with that? What's good about differences?
  • What's hard about differences?
     

2. Face to Face

Assign partners and have them stand or sit facing each other. Everyone has three minutes to find out and jot down five ways each person differs from their partner, and five characteristics they have in common.

Have everyone change partners and repeat the exercise.

With the entire class, list typical similarities and differences on the board.

Discuss:

  • What were some of the differences?
  • Were there similarities that went along with the differences ( e.g., most people have hair, but hair has different colors and textures)?
  • Which differences are most important?
  • Which are least important?
  • Did you notice mostly physical characteristics?
  • What other characteristics could you have noticed?
  • What features are most people born with?
  • Which can they change? How?