Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Diversity in the Classroom

Some quick thoughts about diversity...

Based on Chapter 2 from:

 Brown, H. (Ed.). (2011). Foundational Methods: Understandings teaching and learning.  Pearson Publishing. ISBN 10 – 1-256-16381-3

Prior to reading Brown’s (2011) second chapter, I had a fairly decent understanding of diversity. However, once I finished the chapter, I had a deeper understanding of diversity in relation to diversity issues within schools. When I first thought of the word diversity, the only dimensions of diversity which came to mind were race, culture, and ethnicity. The following passage from the reading allowed me to realize the many other dimensions of diversity:

“It is not realistic to claim that every student can be treated equally since there are significant individual differences that mandate differential treatment if teachers are to effectively meet the learning needs of all their students”

This passage allowed me to think about the fact that diversity can relate to gender, language, sexual orientation, ability, or disability as well as race, culture, and ethnicity. I next began to think of the “equity versus equality” debate. Many people claim to be “colour-blind”, in that that do not see race and instead see everyone equally. Prior to taking the “Diversity Issues in Education” class two years ago, I used to think that the “colour-blind” method was the most proper and correct way to approach diversity. I used to think that rather than seeing everyone as different, I should see everyone as equal. In a way, it sounds kind of nice, but in the end it is very unrealistic. Not only is it impossible to ignore the realities of our differences, but it is also hurtful to both ourselves and to others to not recognize our differences.

Now that brings me back to the “equity versus equality” debate. If I decide to go with the “colour-blind” approach, how will my students be able to receive everything they need to be successful? If I believe that everyone is truly equal or the same, then I would then assume the same for learning styles or needs. Rather than taking the equality approach, I believe the equity approach is most beneficial for everyone. If I simply ignore the diversity of my classroom, I will be giving too much to some and not enough to others, despite the fact that I may feel as though everyone is receiving the same. Rather than ignoring the race, culture, ethnicity, language, gender, sexual orientation, abilities or disabilities of my students, I choose to make myself and others very clearly aware of them. However, it is one thing to recognize the theory behind being aware of diversity, and it is another to actually put this theory to practice. I look forward to entering the classroom as a teacher, and challenging myself to not only recognizing the diversity within the classroom, but to use this recognition to create equity within the classroom. In addition, it is extremely important for me to realize my own advantages and disadvantages due to my macro-culture and sub-cultures (Brown, 2011). It is impossible to approach a classroom with equity in mind without first recognizing my own race, culture, ethnicity, language, gender, sexual orientation, abilities or disabilities which would contribute to being more self aware of my own prejudices or biases. I owe it to my students to try and understand myself before I try and understand them as well.

~ Miss Jaskula

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