Teach me that we are more alike than different…

by , under Enrique

 …teach me not to hate. Teach me the lie and shame of racism [because] it hurts all people. Teach me to learn from you and to learn about me… 

Inspirational words from the Center for the Healing of Racism that should be the guiding light enshrined in our national curriculum for schools (opetussuunnitelma) concerning cultural diversity.

What is our aim when we speak of integration of elementary school students?

Is the goal of the teacher to convert these students into ”white Finns” or to socially exclude them by pointing out how different they are? Is the aim between these two extremes?

Identity is a personal matter. Who you are depends on who you think you are. If some have a problem with this, it should be viewed as their problem, not yours.

Social exclusion is like a toxic poison. If  you take away a child’s identity at an early age by seeing no worth in his ethnicity and background, you’ll end up undermining his or her self-esteem. People with low self-esteem do poorly at school.

Low self-esteem is a factor behind prejudice as well, according to a study published by Psychological Science.

In the same way as racism is costly to society, it can impair children’s learning abilities, according to a study by Essex University.

Even if Finland has become more culturally diverse from the 1990s, the biggest mistake we can make – in my opinion – is forgetting the importance of diversity and values such as mutual acceptance and respect.

Thus Finnish schools should teach their students that we are more alike than different..the lie and shame of racism because it hurts all people.

It should teach student the value of their culture and the culture of others.


  1. virmamatt

    Teach me that we are more alike than different…

    Would it not be cool to state that people are different rather than the same?

    -since that is the reality

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –of course migrants are welcome, as long as they abide by the Finnish laws

      Don’t you think that is the aim? People are highly adaptable and immigrants are an example of that. Most immigrants that move here come to improve their lives.

  2. Mark


    Identity is a personal matter. Who you are depends on who you think you are. If some have a problem with this, it should be viewed as their problem, not yours.

    I understand what you are getting at, but this statement is trying too hard to sum up what is a complex issue.

    Identity is also a social matter. Group (shared) identities are a reality as much as any individual identity.

    Who we are often does not depend on who we think we are, but on our innate abilities and characteristics, which may or may not be subject to our influence.

    If soem people have a problem with this, they often make it our problem. And even if it is their problem, it might be our duty as citizens to draw attention to it. This sentence almost seems to be saying that we should just ignore it.

    I’m sure that’s not what you meant.

    Likewise, diversity is not merely somethign that is ‘important’. It’s part of the reality, not something that should be even subjected to value judgements, whether it’s good or bad to have more or less diversity. It’s important that people recognise diversity as the norm.

    It has been normal for example in gender study reporting to talk about differences between men and women, forgetting that small statistical differences between men and women were often much less significant than the larger variation within genders. The same is almost certainly true when looking at cultural differences between peoples.

  3. Abdilmajed

    It is important to have an identity because if you don’t you could be socially excluded and left out. I am Somali and Muslim therefore I have a sense of belonging, however I appreciate cultural differences. If the concept of integration is to be a white I think the vice verse would be helpfull. For me I am concerned more about equal opportunities.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      Hi Abdimajed, and welcome to Migrant Tales. You are right: issues like diversity and equal opportunities are key. Without them there can never be any acceptance, which is key in any culturally diverse society. Acceptance is like having an engine without petrol. The only thing you can do is appreciate the engineering (our values).

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