A thoughtful curriculum embraces diversity and multiculturalism. Students learn diverse perspectives across the curriculum, whether in history, literature, art, music, health, science or math. Interdisciplinary approaches are often part of the methodology. Some examples from each division are included below:
Beginning in Pre-Kindergarten, a thematic unit “All About Me” is designed to help children realize that every person is unique and special. They also learn that every child’s thoughts and ideas are important.
Progressing through Early Childhood, students learn about each other and their families by celebrating different languages, heritage, holidays, history, and leaders.
In the Lower School, students learn about diverse leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Harvey Milk, Mahatma Gandhi, and others whose greatness and activism changed the world. Students also learn about the brain and growth mindset including how we are all unique, with different learning styles, different likes and dislikes. Learning is enhanced with outside the classroom opportunities such as field trips to the Illinois Holocaust Museum where students delve into understanding the difference between a bystander and an upstander. Students are directed toward discovering how to actively lead by using their voices and actions to create change for those who are less fortunate. Art, music, physical education, and world language also provide opportunities for students to explore many aspects of diversity, whether it entails exploring art as a voice for social justice, learning African American spirituals and their role in African American resilience and empowerment, or exploring what it means to be a part of a team and the interdependence that is required.
In the Middle School, students learn diverse perspectives across the curriculum, in Humanities, art, music, wellness, science and math. In Humanities, literature is selected with respect and attention paid to the authors and protagonists portrayed. A focus is placed on telling the many untold stories, as opposed to “victim” literature and stories of oppression. Literature choices highlight the significant and rich literary achievements of diverse authors, with works that center a variety of perspectives and authentic voices. In art class students are exposed to the work of a number of influential artists from many ethnic and cultural backgrounds, including Frida Kahlo, Faith Ringgold, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, to inspire their own realistic portraits in pencil. They study African tribal masks and learn to make their own masks using metal repousse techniques. Learning from the work of Jacob Lawrence, and his use of color blocking, they engage in figure painting using oil pastels and watercolors. In music, students learn about a wide range of composers, and explore how jazz and blues have influenced many other genres of music. Discussions about song lyrics, the music of Motown, national anthems and music from countries around the world, all afford a window into historical events and the ensuing implications and cultural impact. In PE, a sense of community and interdependence is fostered through participation in sport and discussions surrounding wellness. Social justice issues are explored by learning how past and current athletes navigate social inequalities due to race, gender, socio-economic status, and holistic elements of intersectional identity through the lens of athletics. Resources such as Teaching Tolerance, Facing History and Ourselves, and Rethinking Schools are drawn upon as well as the expertise of our diverse parent body, a number of whom hold academic appointments at Northwestern University, Loyola, or The University of Chicago.
In the Upper School, each discipline incorporates multiple perspectives and diverse representation. All students are required to take Foundations of Literature, which features writings from women, people of color, and individuals whose lifestyles have been historically repressed or oppressed. In Science, culturally relevant and responsive approaches to the curricula include exploring the often untold stories of scientists from diverse backgrounds, critical examinations of environmental crises that have disproportionately impacted Black and Brown communities, and topics in Bioethics. In U.S. History, another required course, the curriculum delves into Native American culture and the impact of European incursion, women’s rights and roles, and the African American experience in America from enslavement to citizenship, reconstruction to voting rights, and civil rights. Race and identity are key themes in World History while AP U.S. History takes a deeper dive on systemic racism in America, as manifest in segregation policies and the denial of equal justice in post-Civil War America. Students become familiar with prominent African American abolitionists and leaders whose legacies shaped and continue to impact society. Race, territorial dispossession, minority relations, and the role of women in history are among the many themes explored. LGBTQ history from the Stonewall Riot to the emergence of pride days, pride rallies and parades, the foundation of Gender Sexuality Alliance and the institution of the first Day of Silence commemorations is also explored. Key court cases such Hollingsworth v Perry and Obergfell v Hodges and their relevance to earlier civil rights cases such as the Brown v Board of Education and Loving v Virginia decisions are also discussed. AP Psychology explores discrimination, stereotyping, attribution, and gender bias. Our new Upper School course – Diversity, Equity, Inclusion: The Formation of American Society/Current Events, as well as Philosophy, Traditional Chinese Literature, Anthropology, Geography, Law, Politics, World Religion, our world language courses, art and music are all taught in a culturally responsive manner, with multiple lenses and perspectives incorporated.
In the Diversity Club, we took on the role of normalizing and holding difficult conversations in the hopes of gaining new perspectives, learning from one another, and challenging our personal biases. So many individuals face a tremendous amount of injustices. We recognize the need for accountability, awareness, empathy, and education on specific events and topics. We challenged ourselves to expand beyond the members of our club and to reach each individual within our Roycemore community whether that was in person or online through various projects, statements, and webinars.
Examples of our activities include:
In the Middle School Diversity Club we discuss topics related to diversity in the world, so that not only do we (the people in the club) have more knowledge of what’s going on, but to see others’ point of views to expand our ideas on how to interpret the complicated world of diversity. General topics include: the different challenges faced by several (gendered, race, religion, ethnicity, etc) people, diversity in the Roycemore community, and more. You can also suggest and talk about a diversity related topic that’s important to you; all you have to do is ask. We hope to see you there, and (it should come as no surprise) EVERYONE IS WELCOME!
The Muslim Student’s Association (MSA) emphasizes a holistic education on Islam as well as encourages comparative discussions regarding Judaism and Christianity, while providing several perspectives in order to introduce Islamic culture to the community. As part of our club mission, we strive to provide a space for students of any religion, race, gender, etc to help facilitate discussion on current events pertaining to Islam and to discuss inaccurate portrayals in media and politics. In addition to sharing general Islamic education, the MSA strives to spread awareness throughout the community by informing the student body on why Islam is worth knowing about, and how each student can do their part in encouraging an inclusive environment for their Muslim peers through newsletters, posters, and active advocacy.
The Gender Sexuality Alliance is an ally group designed to support LGBTQIA+ students. The club is open to all Upper School students regardless of how they identify. Students engage in discussion and exploration of topics such as gender identity, pronouns (he/him, she /her, they/them, etc.) and symbols representing LGBTQIA+ groups. Students explore popular culture representations of gender, and how society stereotypes gender identity. Current topics such as gay marriage, attacks and defenses of LGBTQIA+ rights both in the court systems and in contemporary culture, are examined. The GSA creates a safe space where students who wish can express their own identity without judgement or reprisal. The club is organized and led by students, who direct the club’s agenda and activities to meet the needs of the group.