Discuss about the Teaching for Diversity.
Education for diversity and social justice is an important value that should be included in the vision of every school of the world. The current century is a witness to a rising trend of terrorism, social injustice and disharmony, racial discrimination and a glaring disparity between the haves and the have-nots (Keddie 2012). Developing nations like Australia have seen an increase in the amount of immigrants of various ethnic, linguistic, socio-cultural groups approaching and settling in their countries (Ferfolja and Vickers 2010). The number of immigrants has increased over the years (Taylor and Sidhu 2012). They face the problems of “isolation” and “marginalization” in the society (Benjamin and Emejulu 2012). Hence every school should attempt to do away with the instances of inequality. It becomes the moral and social responsibility of the school to develop strategies to resist this kind of discrimination. Social equality would bring harmony and peace in the society. This would remove the general feelings of fear and xenophobia (Keddie 2012). However, various forces have become obstacles to the development of such strategies such as economic globalization. The government has curtailed its funding for educational systems. Instead, it has focused on the academic performance on literacy and numeric standards. This shift has changed the priority of the schools from learning to management and necessary skills. Such a move proves to be detrimental to the teaching of the disadvantaged and marginalized students of the society (Webster and Ryan 2014). The present education system is inadequate to address their problems. In a country like Australia, where there is a rising diversity in the classrooms, the teachers are not yet qualified enough to deal this diversity. Consequently, the students are not giving their best performance in the classroom. They need emotional, social and cultural support which the present education system cannot provide. However, there is a problematic situation with regards to the minority class. If their concerns are not addressed, then they will be marginalized, and their group will not be given their due status. On the other hand, when the particular group is identified and supported, it will generate the hierarchical notion of difference and create injustice for the group in question (Keddie 2012).
A school needs to follow some processes to achieve equity in the education of the diverse groups. The educator needs to go rationally through the processes to validate its usefulness in the education process. As discussed in "Educating for Diversity and Social Justice," in the case of Peppermint Grave High School, the school first prepares the students so that they can participate in the mainstream Australian education system. It is of utmost importance that they are gradually introduced to the mainstream education system. This determines their period of stay in the school. The students will be inclined to remain in the system once their self-confidence rises (Keddie 2012).
Here the concept of inclusive education comes to the forefront. Earlier inclusive education referred to the inclusion of students with disabilities into the mainstream education. Now it has a broader implication. It takes into account the culturally and linguistically diverse minority groups. Most of the Australian state governments have devised policies to address this diversity in their education systems (humanrights.gov.au 2016).
Every school will have its way to induct the students into their education system or the environment. Keddie discussed the equity-based approach that is followed in the Peppermint Grove High School. The approach implies that the linguistic and cultural backgrounds of the students determine the allocation of the resources of the school. The aim of the approach is maximum involvement of the students which would help them perform well in the class. To address the disparity among the students, the school also offers services which assist them in settling in the relatively foreign society. One problematic situation that may arise in the case of the diverse groups is that it's not stationary. It always changes bringing with fresh bouts of issues. Therefore, the teaching staff needs to be on its guard to deal with such matters deftly and like an expert. The problematic situations need to be discussed, and strategies need to be formulated to solve them (Keddie 2012).
Another way of dealing with the problem of the marginalized group is adequate representations of such minority groups in the teaching staff. In this away, the approaches like the equity-based approach can be fully applied. Students feel that they can express themselves well in front of someone with whom they can relate themselves (Keddie 2012).
The understanding of the educators regarding the concept of equity is also of immense importance. The students belong to different strata of society and are eligible for differential treatment. This implies that certain students will require support from educators more than other students. Equity is in a distributive sense of justice. In this case, the minority group needs extra emotional and socio-cultural support from teachers and society in general (Ferfolja and Vickers 2010). The students' needs should be consulted, and accordingly, they need to be fulfilled. Equity does not mean that all the students should be treated equally. The background, cultural differences and the past life of the refugees are taken into account before deciding which students are entitled to equitable treatment. This is crucial for the conception of justice in a satisfactory manner in the education system (Keddie 2012).
This brings one to the concept of social justice. The aim of the social justice is to enable participation of different social groups in a diverse society. Toleration of the other minority groups is an essential part of that aim. Social justice enables the various members of the society to be self-reliant as well as dependent on each other. Diversity and social justice are the two sides of the same coin. Diversity implies the differences present in the society regarding race, culture, ethnicity and language. Social justice refers to the intermingling of the diversifying factors regarding equity and social inclusion (Adams and Bell 2016).
Cultural valuation of the minority students plays a major role in the equitable treatment of the minority groups. In an attempt to emphasize on the vulnerability of the students in question, there is a danger of over marginalizing the minority group. Therefore certain social and cultural constraints need to be kept in mind while interacting with such students. The cultural valuation of the group should not be such that it will lead to the "belittling" of the group. Hence the cultural support to be provided to the students has to follow the social protocol and conventions (Keddie 2012).
The regional differences in the group itself might pose a problem in creating an equitable approach to education. In the example provided by Keddie, there was a group of African students who were asked to participate in a dance activity where they could showcase their African dancing. However, regional differences in their kind of dancing showed up which led to immense rivalry among the participants. Therefore, this indicates that the educators believe in the homogeneity of the minority group which may not be the case as shown in the example given by Keddie. This cultural difference poses a difficult obstacle which needs to be overcome to achieve equity (Keddie 2012).
The problem with the current academic system is that the educators are mostly “monolingual” and “monocultural”. Therefore, they face immense problem while handling the diverse students of the class. However, suitable programs can be devised to address such problems. In a modern classroom, the programs will prepare the educators on how to handle such diversity efficiently (Major 2012).
The problems noted above show that the educators should always be on the guard while dealing with the minority students. They should be continuously aware of the cultural and social differences that set them apart from the mainstream students in the first place. In that way, the educators can understand their issues in a better way and find out ways of addressing them effectively. There is no room for assumption or preconceived ideas regarding the culture of the students since the background of the educators will be different from that of the student (Hinchey 2004). Each individual is unique in its own environment (Thompson 2016). If the instructor wants to get the perspective of the students the teachers need to understand his or her students in a comprehensive manner (Keddie 2012).
Therefore, the educators need to be culturally responsive. Structural frameworks are accordingly devised which allow educators to be more inclusive of the minority groups in their classroom teaching. Connections should be maintained between the learning materials and the culture of the minority groups (Gay 2013).
Not just students, but the guardians need to be taken into the educations system as well. They need to be communicating with the school authority so that they can voice their opinion and problems to the educators properly. The guardians may suffer from a sense of prohibition which has to be removed. There is a power imbalance between the students who are in a socially superior position than those who belong to the marginalized group. The school must take steps to remove this inequality (Keddie 2012).
The productivity of the equitable approach to the education system is dependent on a lot of variables. There can be no definite rule of approach which every school can follow blindly (Tichnor-Wagner et al. 2016). The social groups are heterogeneous with issues of their own. The educator and the school authority, in general, need to be aware of the conflicting problems of the marginalized students. The authoritarian character of the educator should be destroyed, and a congenial environment should be established. The students should feel confident enough to approach the teacher with confidence and participate in the education system.
One more barrier that the students face is that they cannot always connect the culture where they grew up and the culture to which they are subjected now. There are some limitations in their society which they would not face in the current one. In this way, their education seems to suffer a setback. Their parents are not always easy with the activities which are common in the school, but they could not perform back in their home environment. The school should introduce activities which would help in bridging this gap between cultures. The students will feel more connected to the new environment (Banks 2014).
For instance, the Muslim girls have to wear veils back at home. They are used to that kind of practice, and they are comfortable with it. The teacher asked them about what they felt about those students who did not wear veils. They replied that there should be freedom of choice with regards to their dress. In their case, they wore a veil generally to protect themselves from "male gaze". Some wore veils to show their preference for religious commitment.
From the above discussion, one can safely say that diversity in education is an inevitable outcome of globalization. This difference holds true for countries like Australia and UK. However, the multicultural policy of Australia ensures the smooth movement of immigrants into the country. Education is one such medium which helps in assimilating the so called marginalized sections into mainstream life. The current education policy also provides the inclusive education of the minority students into the mainstream school system. Problems arise to achieve equity and distributive sense of justice. But these issues can be solved with the help of constructive policies and a sympathetic understanding for the immigrants. The equity is dependent on the role played by the educators towards their pupils. The educators should focus on anti discriminatory policies and enable greater engagement of the students in the class. Material goods should be allocated following the diversity of the students in the school. However, the immaterial resources like encouragement and support also play a significant role. They must be distributed in a way that would enable the marginalized students to participate and engage themselves more in the current educational system. The support system should also be dependent on certain social protocols. Over emphasis and evaluation of the groups may make the students feel inferior though that may not be the intention of the educators. The students themselves contribute to the approach of comprehensive education. They can speak of their cultural differences and how they perceive their current environment. This frank discussion would help the educators determine the paths they can take to assimilate them into mainstream education (Keddie 2012).
Adams, M. and Bell, L.A. eds. 2016. Teaching for diversity and social justice. Routledge.
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Ferfolja, T. and Vickers, M. 2010. Supporting refugee students in school education in Greater Western Sydney, Critical Studies in Education
Gay, G. 2013. Cultural Diversity and Multicultural Education. Curriculum Inquiry, 43(1), pp.48-70.
Hinchey, P. H. 2004 Becoming a Critical Educator : Defining a Classroom Indentity, Designing a Critical Pedagogy. New York, US: Peter Lang Publishing, 2004. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 16 August 2016.
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Major, J. 2012. Teacher education for cultural diversity: Online and at a distance. Journal of Open Flexible and Distance Learning, 9(1), pp.15-26.
Taylor, S. and Sidhu, R.K. 2012. Supporting refugee students in schools: what constitutes inclusive education?, International Journal of Inclusive Education
Thompson, N. 2016. Anti-discriminatory practice: Equality, diversity and social justice. Palgrave Macmillan.
Tichnor-Wagner, A., Parkhouse, H., Glazier, J. & Cain, J.M. 2016, "Expanding approaches to teaching for diversity and social justice in K-12 education: Fostering global citizenship across the content areas", education policy analysis archives, vol. 24, pp. 59.
Webster, S and Ryan, A 2014, ‘Equity and (critical) diversity’, Understanding curriculum: the Australian context, Cambridge University Press, Port Melbourne, Vic., pp.98-115.