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First Things First

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During the past year, a colleague and I were asked to develop and mentor a series of workshops for administrators of a school district concerned with public perceptions of a lack of sensitivity to multicultural issues. One of the hypotheses that we returned to regularly was that cultural stereotypes derive from a lack of intimacy; when we open ourselves in the at tempt to experience as others experience, stereotypes lose their objectifying power. Over the course of those workshops, all administrators (from superintendent to building-level assistant principals) demonstrated an incredible willingness to take some significant risks — to share personal insights and values with each other, to open themselves to peer-critique, to grapple with troubling aspects of the images and discourse that emerged at several points.

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