Jasen is a community organizer, father, early childhood educator, and social justice advocate based in Seattle. Along with directing Columbia City Preschool of Arts and Culture, he is the co-founder of Kids & Race Seattle, which has been featured in Parent Map Magazine and on NPR's Seattle affiliate KUOW; the program served over 500 people to date, and rising every month. His various actions around race and social justice have made front page news in Seattle and have been featured on the local news on numerous occasions. He has 15 years of experience working with children in various capacities.
For over a decade, Benjamin has worked with human beings ranging in age from newborns to seniors in a variety of settings: teaching English as a Foreign Language in Nong Khai, Thailand, and later at The Evergreen State College; counseling at a group home for teenage foster boys in Lacey, Washington; organizing activities for a day shelter in London, England; as well as five years of classroom experience as a preschool teacher here in Seattle. Education is a passion, be it teaching or learning (sometimes it's hard to tell the difference). Other passions include music, art, conversation, imagination, and a good old fashioned game of baseball. He studied Educational Practice, Developmental Psychology, and Consciousness Studies at The Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Washington.
This month, we will focus our studies on identity: exploring the self, family, and culture of each member of our class. We will engage in conversation, activities, and art that encourages our students to ask questions surrounding the concept of identity, and fosters a curiosity to learn more about themselves and others. These questions and realizations will be utilized by the Kids and Race content team, and worked into events to illustrate the depth of concept and cognitive capability of young children. Sharing facts and evidence from research is useful in helping parents and educators to know where to start difficult conversations with their kids, but there is nothing like the thoughts, feelings, and stories of real children in the community to drive the point home.
This month, we invite our families to hold conversations with their students focused on personal, family, and group identities. These are BIG concepts, so it's important to begin small and zoom out over time. In Cognitive Development Theory, Piaget describes preschool-aged children as being in the "preoperational stage". This means that they are constantly exploring their inner and outer boundaries, and forming a sense of self that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Some key questions surrounding this subject include:
Most importantly, have fun!