March 14, 2012
This paper will provide a detailed explanation of what diversity is. Included will be the general aspects of what diversity entails, as well as, the specific elements of diversity found in educational settings. What is the newest definition of diversity and how does that affect the students in the class How can Americans solve the Digital Divide? How can educators find the resources they need to help them teach in their diverse environments? As the student population in American schools becomes increasingly diverse, educators must respond with school reform efforts that meet the needs of all students. They must develop culturally sensitive curricula that integrate multicultural viewpoints and histories, apply instructional strategies that encourage all students to achieve, and review school and district policies related to educational equity. Teacher education programs in particular are responsible for preparing future teachers to promote meaningful, engaged learning for all students, regardless of their race, gender, ethnic heritage, or cultural background. This paper will discuss how to evaluate diversity in schools and how to implement best practices in the use of diversity. It will also explain the benefits to students when diversity is used in the classroom and how to implement best practices for the use if diversity.
What is Diversity?
Diversity is a method of teaching that actively engages and supports students from diverse backgrounds. Teachers must become adept at choosing printed, electronic, and audiovisual materials, and in selecting topics and assignments that value the wide variety of perspectives and interests that exist among their students. The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual. Recent studies, however, highlight the fact that our nation's demographic shift is not from White to Black but to a rainbow (Johnson, 2009). Therefore, Teachers have broadened their concept of what diversity is, how it will impact their lessons and what they need to do to prepare for the inevitable future. In fact, the broader definition of diversity goes far beyond race (Hall, 2010). The statistics are compelling: * Older students (those outside of the traditional 17- to 22-year-old age range) now make up more than half of student population in higher education. * Nationally, women account for 54 percent of bachelor’s degree students. * The presence of minority students is growing, led by Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans.
* Gay, lesbian and bisexual students are becoming more vocal about their presence and their needs.
* Students with learning or physical disabilities are being identified more frequently. The New Definition
This shift in demographics is clearly understood by schools. Many of them are scrambling to develop new strategies for teaching. Because of the legal attacks on race-based affirmative action programs, Schools have had to rethink the strategies used to achieve their diversity goals. In response, a new definition of diversity has emerged -- one that includes race and other characteristics. In its broadest context, diversity candidates are being defined as "individuals who bring unique perspectives or outlooks to the classroom." The new definition of diversity includes the traditional categories of race and gender. In addition, it includes people with...