This activity encourages students to reflect on their individual cultures and histories, their backgrounds, the things they grew up with (some that may have been in their control and others that they had no choice about), and their values. In the end, students will begin to enlarge their perspective and recognize diversity of belief and background.
As stated in the essay Service-Learning and Prejudice Reduction, service-learning can be used to dispel stereotypes when pre-service activities help students think about their own attitudes and assumptions. In this activity, students explore their cultural filters while learning to recognize and respect the different perspectives and backgrounds of others. Doing so will help students more deeply connect to the service-learning experience.
- A blank piece of paper and pen for every student
- Valuing Differences handout (PDF)
Students will use a blank piece of paper to create their FRAME -- the things that make up who you are, the unique qualities, similarities and differences you have with other people. Students will use the Valuing Differences handout as a guide.
The teacher will guide students in a discussion about how their FRAMEs affect how they see the world and other people. Individual experiences cause each person to view the world in a different light. These experiences, or our FRAME, lead us to make assumptions about others and the world around us. Sometimes these assumptions lead us to make judgments or stereotypes, or have feelings of uneasiness and mistrust toward others.
Examining their FRAME can help students talk about their assumptions, fears and biases, before engaging in a service-learning project. Students can use the following list of reminders to engage in their projects from a multicultural perspective:
F -- Figure out the facts: Not just what is apparent to you, but all the facts. Seek more information, ask questions and listen.
R -- Reflect on reality: Is it my reality or their reality? Am I looking at this through my FRAME or trying to see it through their FRAME?
A -- Acknowledge and challenge assumptions: Think about your expectations and whether they are appropriate. Are you making assumptions based on your FRAME?
M -- Maintain an open mind: Just because someone else's FRAME differs from yours doesn't make them wrong. What can you learn from them? What can they learn from you? What do you have in common?
E -- Expand your experiences: Explore, expose yourself, and encounter differences; expand your comfort zone; increase your cultural competence.
Adapted with permission from the University of Minnesota's service-learning guide (PDF).