Tales from Lower School
Teaching Empathy & Social Justice to 1st Graders
By Elissa Kompanek, 1st Grade Head Teacher, and Camille Jumarang-Oyola, Associate Teacher
Since the beginning of the year, we have been talking about how our first job is “Taking care of each other.” We have recognized how each one of us is unique, and we have read many stories that describe unfair treatment of characters just because of the way they look. These conversations led us to learning more about Gandhi.
Children eagerly sat and listened as we told them that Gandhi is a hero to many people, including their teachers and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They listened closely as we read and talked about how Gandhi was shy and afraid of the dark. School was hard for him, but through all of this, he believed that all people should be treated fairly. One of the first points that resonated with the children was the cast system in India that would not allow Gandhi to play with his friend. They could not believe that some people could not walk on the sidewalk or be in a railroad car or own land.
When Gandhi tried to help make things fair, even if others tried to hurt him, he did not fight back; he was peaceful but strong in his belief, and he helped change the world.
Through our social justice curriculum, we will continue to learn about Gandhi and his march to the sea as well as other leaders who were inspired by his nonviolent path.
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