Our Minnesota Community Educator Guide
A tool for greater engagement and community building across classrooms and groups.
To better facilitate this learning experience, we have created comprehensive Educator Guides to serve as companion teaching materials for each of the thirteen Minnesotans and their cultures featured in the 48-page activity book Our Minnesota Community. The guide is also broken down into standalone sections for each Minnesotan profiled.
A note from Our Minnesota Community Author, Colleen Waterston
Thank you for joining us on this journey toward fostering the next generation of culturally curious and thoughtful young Minnesotans!
We understand that topics pertaining to culture can feel tricky – especially in the land of “Minnesota Nice”, where it is part of the culture to avoid potentially awkward conversations. Even during the process of creating this activity book, our team learned all sorts of lessons as to word choices that could trigger children, narratives that perpetuate stereotypes or systems of privilege, activities that could be deemed as cultural appropriation, and other sensitivity issues.
The lessons learned only deepened our desire to create this tool to inspire curiosity and conversation for learning about ourselves and others. We believe a mindset of curiosity around intercultural engagement in both children and adults is the best way to actively build a more inclusive community. We realize that cultural conversations can lead to uncomfortable territory and want to help you navigate this important topic as smoothly as possible.
Before we dive into the ways you can implement the activity book’s lessons alongside your current curriculum, we want to clarify important points about the cultures and people in the book.
The Minnesotans featured represent just a portion of the many cultures in our state.
In the activity book’s Table of Contents, the ordering of the profile pages is meant to call subtle attention to waves of immigration that make for constantly changing demographics in our state. According to MN Compass, children and youth are leading the trend toward a more racially and ethnically diverse Minnesota. While residents of color make up 21 percent of the state’s population, nearly one third (31 percent) of Minnesota’s youth (0-19) are children of color. St. Paul School District’s student population speaks more than 125 languages and dialects. Our goal was to collect a sampling of unique perspectives and backgrounds, but with only 13 cultures featured, Our Minnesota Community is meant to serve as a starting point for learning and exploration about the diverse people who call Minnesota home.
The Minnesotans featured in this book represent their own views and beliefs.
The ideas presented for each person are unique to them individually. The content on their pages is based on the values they wanted to share that stem from their culture of origin. The snapshots are not meant to be indicative of all people from that culture of origin. The takeaway is that in order to learn about a person, no matter how much you think you know about the culture they come from, you need to connect personally with them rather than learn through generalizations, or worse, stereotypes.
In order to learn about the Minnesotans in the book, we asked them the following questions:
- What does family mean to you?
- What is most precious to you about your culture?
- Which cultural objects or buildings are most important to you?
- What challenges have you faced as a result of being a part of your culture?
- What is the biggest stereotype that people have about your culture?
- What else would you like people to understand about your culture?
As well, they were asked questions connected to the original Big Shared World project:
- What does a good life mean to you?
- In your opinion, what is the biggest threat to humanity today?
- What do you think the world will be like 50 years from now?
The Minnesotans featured offer a “windows and mirrors” experience for self-reflection.
The book has a “windows and mirrors” approach, offering young people the opportunity to look into the lives of others while reflecting back on their own values, beliefs, family, heritage, and elements that make up their own culture and worldview. Self-reflection and understanding are critical elements to ground oneself in before learning about the cultures of others. Thus, the questions and activities throughout the book are meant to maximize the learning opportunity. It is our hope that through the activities presented and conversations started in the pages of Our Minnesota Community, your students can grow in their familiarity and openness toward all people in our great state, and even, in the world at large.
We hope this activity book and curriculum inspires much more exploration in classrooms, homes, and beyond. We look forward to creating more ways to connect and learn together in the future.
Colleen Waterston and the Big Shared World Team
Pictures above show Our Minnesota Community author, Colleen Waterston, sharing the activity book with several individuals featured in the book, as well as friends and educators. (Photo does not imply endorsement.)