Diversity in Education


Diversity is a very important trend in education. Diversity is a commitment to recognizing and appreciating the variety of characteristics that make individuals unique in an atmosphere that promotes and celebrates individual and collective achievement (Bauman & Dillion). As time goes on, diversity is more prevalent in the classroom. There are more minorities such as Hispanics, African Americans and Asians in American classrooms than ever. Diversity, however, does not refer only to race. The richness of inclusion has been stretched to recognize differences in age, gender, social and economic differences (Marx, 43). Diversity also includes students with disabilities. In the classroom, teachers need to be aware of differences among students in order to teach effectively to all students.

The United States is becoming a nation of minorities (Marx, 40). In 2007-2008, students with disabilities in America were 6,606 ( National Statistics for Education Statistics). In Jefferson County in 2006, racial diversity in the classroom included: 96% white, 2% black, 1% Hispanic, 1% Asian, and 0 % Native American ( New York Times).

In the United States, percentages among racial groups are: 59% White, 14% Black, 0.9% American Indian, 5.3% Asian, and 20% Hispanic. The projected statistics for 2100 are: 36.1% White, 12.7% Black, .75% American Indian, 12.7% Asian, and 37.6% Hispanic (Marx, 42).

The diversity trend relates to many other trends in education today. Trend 8, continuous improvement relates because if teachers can effectively observe and teach to diversity, there will be continuous improvement in education. The ethics trend relates in some way because students should be taught to respect diverse students. They should be taught that it is unethical to bully others because of their differences. Trend 13, personal meaning relates because once students can come to terms and be confident with their differences, they can find personal meaning in their lives. The poverty trend is related because poverty is a part of diversity. Students that have families that are poor, middle class, or high class are very diverse from the other groups.

Teaching to diverse students in the classroom can often to be a difficult task. Teachers first need to be aware of these differences and of each student’s home life. For example, if a family is very poor and the student may not have eaten breakfast that morning, it may be hard for the student to concentrate in class.

The teacher should set up discussions or lessons about diversity in their classrooms. The first step in preparing, pedagogically, for discussions of diversity is to begin where teachers are comfortable. Students are sensitive to the teacher’s comfort level, and will take it as a signal that the discussion of differences is acceptable and appropriate. Teachers can build off this foundation by including diversity issues from the very first day of class, so that diversity becomes normal in our classrooms. Starting early and emphasizing openness is essential in teaching diversity awareness. Students should be taught that everyone is special because of their differences. Another step to making diversity normal is to integrate diversity issues throughout the class, rather than having a unit on women, a unit on race, etc. This can be done by incorporating any or all of the following: examples with diverse topics; guest speakers from diverse backgrounds; role plays or exercises which raise points around diversity; assignments on or for a specific group–senior center, black inner-city kids, rural or the poor, et. Another ideas is to have students research diversity figures in a particular discipline–how did that person’s particular differences affect their career? Field trips can also be taken. Students can witness key inventions and discoveries created by minorities. This way students can see that even if they are a minority, they can still be successful in the world (Suite 101).
If there are no such figures, have them explore what historical forces kept there from being any.) In preparing for a particular class session, we need to read the material thoroughly and anticipate students’ challenges and questions. Teachers should also teach diversity with the curriculum (Bauman and Dillion, 1). Social studies is a great way to discuss diversity in the classroom. Real life examples should be used. Speakers can be brought into the classroom to discuss diversity.

Students should be given the option to give presentations about the countries they are from and to teach their classmates information about their home country. Instructors should instill in their students a sense of pride in where they come from. Teachers should always keep differences such as disabilities and poverty confidential. Students may bully each other if they are aware of certain diversities.

In conclusion, diversity is prevalent in every classroom in America. Some teachers have more diversity than others. Diversity can be in race, gender, income status, disabilities and many other forms. To effectively teach to all diverse groups, teachers must be aware of these differences and have ideas on how to teach based on the diversities of their students.

References

Bauman, I., & Dillion, R. (n.d.). Tips and Techniques for Including Diversity in the Classroom. The Schools of a Country are it's future. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from www.stamnet.org/journal/volume32/bauman.pdf

Diversity in the Classroom. (n.d.). The New York Times. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from projects.nytimes.com/immigration/enrollment/missouri/jefferson

Fast Facts. (n.d.). National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=64

Marx, G. (2006). Sixteen Trends, Their Profound Impact on Our Future: Implications for Students, Education, Communities, Countries, and the Whole of Society. Arlington: Educational Research Service.

Russell, S. (n.d.). Six Tips for Teaching Diversity. Diversity in Education. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from www.suite101.com/content/six-tips-for-teaching-diversity-a30336

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