I had fully intended to write a post about diversity and neuroscience this week. In my last blog post, I had introduced the topic and was excited to get a few posts out about it. But then Barbie came out with several new dolls and let's face it, they are everywhere! And people have very strong opinions.
I have read some articles that think the new dolls are a triumph. Thank goodness Barbie is now recognizing that women have curves, different color skin, and curly (not those gentle blonde waves cascading down Barbie's back, but something with actual texture) hair. Others are a bit more skeptical, saying that giving girls "curvy Barbie" will only make these girls feel bad about themselves. Still others are saying that no matter what Barbie does, they are not comfortable with the message that it portrays to young girls. So what is a parent to do when their child is asking...begging...for one of the new Barbies?
For more tips about talking to kids about race and diversity, see my posts for babies, toddlers, and school-aged kids. And don't forget to take our survey so we can find out more about what you want to read and hear on Culturally Competent Kids!
I am absolutely fascinated with neuroscience, which is the science of the brain. I have to admit that when I was an undergraduate, I was terrified of the brain. It all seemed so complicated and convoluted to me. I completely avoided the topic even though I knew that I wanted to be a psychologist (and psychologists need to understand the brain-at least a little bit!). In graduate school, I was able to embrace the study of the brain and I have been slightly obsessed ever since. I really believe that it helps us understand ourselves and others so much better than simply describing behavior alone.
So, I decided to start this series to "explain the brain" and how it relates to diversity. I know, those two topics do not seem very connected at all, but they are! Our brain development is significantly shaped by our environment and diversity, or lack thereof, can significantly influence our environment. How does your brain develop if you speak more than one language? How does exposure to peers with different socioeconomic statuses influence the brain? Does learning about different religions change your brain? Using research and my own experience and knowledge, I hope to answer some of these questions in an informative and accessible way.
As we go along in this series, I would love to hear from you. What questions do you have about diversity and the brain? What would you like to know more about? How does this all relate to your children? Not sure where or how to start? Check out some of the other blog posts and resources for inspiration. I may not be able to answer every question; the answer may not be fully understood yet! But I will try to offer some information to mull over and hopefully look at things in a new way.
This series will be ongoing. There may not be a post every week, but we'll keep it going for as long as people have questions that need to be answered! Leave a comment below, fill out the interest survey, or contact me. I can't wait to hear from you!
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Dr. Sweeney is a licensed school psychologist and cultural competence expert. Here are her musings on life in a multicultural world.
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