10 April 2006

Mapping, and Speaking, Diversity

It is hard to get people to really accept and respect human diversity, and that is a huge issue for those of us with, and/or who work with, students with differences. But the world is full of differences, and maybe if our schools were better about teaching the breadth of that diversity, acceptance and respect would come more naturally to the classroom.

One thing that has always bothered me is our willingness to call other people's nations and cities by names we choose, instead of the names they choose. There are no countries called "Germany," or "Spain," or "Hungary," or "Finland," or "China." No one travels to "Vienna," or "Rome," or "Munich." These are just English names, and teaching them to our children "in isolation" encourages a "one correct way" vision of the world, that not only interferes with heir future in the world but probably backfires badly on our students with differences and disabilities.

There are, thanks to technology, solutions for this. Here's a world name list, and most Wikipedia entries are great, often including sound clips. My little contribution is now available at Wayfaring

It is an attempt to give classroom teachers the ability to show students how the people of the world name themselves. The idea is to collect "native names" - offer pronunciation guides, and even link to "in language" radio stations. Click on a few waypoints to see. Send me information on a country if you'd like to help me add on, or if you want to correct or expand anything.
socolira "at" msu.edu

-Ira Socol

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