The Danger of a Single Story

It’s TED talk week here! Sorry, I always love TED talks but this week I’ve seen two really stand-out talks. If you’re anything like me you love an excuse to watch a good TED talk anyway.

This talk is from Chimamanda Adichie, a Nigerian author. I came across it because Globaloria shows this video to students as a part of the curriculum early in the year. This week we have been looking at the curriculum, seeing if we can build up the empathy and social understanding portion. Globaloria is a game design class, so these things don’t have to be a huge part of the curriculum, but I think each class in every school should devote some time to the importance of respecting others and embracing people of all backgrounds and orientations.

I would love to see our schools put more effort into informing students about the dangers of “a single story.” But right now we live in a country where many teachers, administrators, politicians and policy makers also live by one story. This is probably one of the biggest reasons I wanted to be a Social Studies teacher. Students see things like the Holocaust or the Civil Rights movement, and they can see that the way Jews were treated was horrible, or that the way Blacks were treated before 1970 was inexcusable. But we still have so many more subtle instances of racism and hatred today because many people believe ideas that they were told and think it is right to make judgements about all people from one background based on a single story they have heard.

Don’t just believe a story.  Never assume someone is a certain way because of their background. Find out for yourself. It’s always ok to change your mind and alter your thought processes. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, I actually think it means you are so very strong.

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