Last year, AmazeWorks shared 22 journal prompts on identity for 2022. You loved it! So this year, we’re sharing 23 journal prompts on difference for 2023. The past few years have been riddled with legislation limiting schools and educators from open and honest discussions about different identities and lived experiences. Since January 2021, 42 states have introduced legislation that would restrict critical race theory. Book censorship has increased drastically in the past year, preventing students from reading stories depicting BIPOC and LGBTQ+ characters.
Acknowledging and developing respect for differences is necessary to create cultures of belonging. We hope these journal prompts help you engage in meaningful reflection to help cultivate your anti-bias mindset.
On childhood messages about difference
- What memories do you have of what you were taught about various kinds of diversity among people? Was behavior consistent with what was said?
- What childhood experiences did you have with peers and adults who were different from you in some way? Were these experiences comfortable? Why or why not?
- Which differences do you see accepted and rejected in your social circles and communities? Why are some differences accepted and why are some rejected?
- Think back to when you were a child and first noticed human differences, such as skin color, family traditions, accents, or other differences. How were those differences perceived and/or discussed in your family, school, community?
- Why is it important to respect all the ways in which people are different?
On feeling different (or not)
- Think about your own identity, now and when you were a child. What makes you unique? How was this identity nurtured, or how could it have been nurtured?
- Did you grow up reading about people similar to you in your books, watching people who looked like you in the media, etc? How may that have impacted your ability to develop self-respect and respect for other identities and lived experiences? How might it have changed if your answer was different?
- How comfortable is it for you to talk about identities different than yours, such as race, religion, or gender identity?
- Were you ever the “new kid” or someone who didn’t immediately fit in? How did you feel about that experience? Or how would you imagine it feels?
- What bias, stereotypes, and prejudices might you hold about people with different identities, lived experiences, or family structures? What messages did you receive at home or in school? What are some common misconceptions you’ve heard about that identity?
- What messages did you hear about families, family diversity, and families that are presented as “normal”?
- Did you ever feel like your family was different from other families? How did you feel about those differences?
- Which family types and family experiences do you understand and relate to especially well? With what kinds of families do you have less experience and knowledge?
- How does your family show love for one another that may be different than others you know? How do you feel about this?
- What expectations did your family have for you in terms of how you contributed to the family as you were growing up and what kinds of work you should do as an adult?
On expanding our capacity to respect difference
- What assumptions and expectations do you have about those around you? How do these assumptions and expectations influence your relationships?
- When have you changed your mind about someone to be more understanding? How did it feel?
- What can you do to expand your knowledge and experience with identities and lived experiences different from yours? What have you already done?
- What can you do to show empathy and respect for a difference you may hold bias, stereotypes, or prejudice against? Examples may include a racial group, gender identity, socioeconomic status, religious group, family structure, or other difference.
- What do you notice about how your students perceive their own or others’ identities?
- What opportunities can you give your students to talk about differences like religion, culture, clothing, and language?
- How can your classroom be a space for children to express themselves fully?
- What supportive, affirming messages can you give to the children in your care who may experience bias and discrimination?
*If you are not an educator, how can you apply these questions to others in your life, such as children, friends, or colleagues?