Two weeks ago, I shared a few thoughts on inclusivity and how it differs from diversity. Since that time, I have had several conversations with parents, with students, and with colleagues that have me thinking about what it means to extend inclusivity beyond how we identify ourselves individually to how we think and what we might believe as well. This kind of inclusivity requires both empathy and listening, two of our values and practices at Crossroads. It also requires courage and a great deal of insight into ourselves.
Listening to understand (rather than listening to respond, debate, or refute) requires us, not only to listen, but to monitor our own internal thoughts and reactions as well. It requires us to consider the context and point of view of the speaker. Of course, the speaker has a role in this as well. Considering the other in a conversation is an act of empathy and respect. Our words matter, and how we take into account the thoughts and feelings of others as we speak matters, too.
Conversation and dialogue is an opportunity for all of us to participate in the life of Crossroads. It is another way to practice what it means to be inclusive in a way that captures our identities and experiences and what we are learning and thinking about as well. A parent reminded me this week that “The way we frame our discussions matters.” This is true for a group of seniors working to facilitate a conversation about diversity and inclusivity in advisories for the rest of the school. This is true in classes where history, politics, and religion are a part of the learning or the discussion. And it’s true when work to come to know one another, to collaborate across our differences, and to understand and respect what all of us bring to Crossroads.
We are not diverse without a multiplicity of identities, experiences, thoughts, and beliefs. We cannot be inclusive until we bring intention to creating space for all of these differences to co-exist. Our curiosity, our empathy, our courage, and our good listening will serve us well here.
With great expectations,