Education Reform From the Teacher's Perspective

Thursday, December 13, 2007

There is a new movement in education, that of cultural diversity. The results of the 20th centuries struggles over civil rights and destroying the concept “separate but equal” has found its way into educational settings across the country. It is no longer acceptable to simply rely on anecdotal accounts of student learning, rather, administrators and faculty in higher education are more and more hard pressed to actually document student achievement through systematic assessment (Quaye & Harper, 2007).Faculty and administrators on campuses have many emerging ethical responsibilities to consider when not only including diversity, but also when considering excluding diversity. Quaye & Harper (2007) suggest that the adopted curriculum itself exhibits the inclusion or lack thereof of diverse content. They propose that curricular choices such as readings and books not come from a single cultural group, but be expanded to include as much diversity as can be accommodated.

Grillo (2005) writes that diversity is not a concept but a verb. She states that educators must embrace diversity by seeking and understanding others viewpoints and cultural experiences. Grillo goes on to state that honoring diversity forces us to not only recognize our own cultural identity, but that in so doing, we must consciously confront how our own cultural identity colors our reactions and education of our students and even colleagues with varying cultural identities.

Lee (2005) takes diversity and the ethics associated with it a step further. She states educators need to go beyond diversity for diversities sake, and “forg[e] critical thinking through a more nuanced and increasingly complex intellectual landscape (p. 202).” Lee suggests that by infusing critical thinking, especially in regards to multiculturalism, we can enhance communication among the diverse groups and individuals and endow true diversity in the process. (Lee, 2005).

To conclude, there are several ethical goals that should accompany educators in their campus diversity. The curriculum should be inclusive. The days of teaching the words of “dead white men” are over. Educators must actively seek out and incorporate into their teaching, curriculum and personal views cultural experiences that are unique and different from their own. Also, educators should encourage critical thinking and dialogue between diverse groups and individuals. While this is far from an exhaustive discussion, these three steps will go a long way toward promoting diversity on the campus.

References
Lee, T. (2005). Intercultural teaching in higher education. Intercultural Education, 16(3), 201-215.

Grillo, L. (2005). Diversity is an action verb. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, 22(21), 45.

Quaye, S., & Harper, S. (2007). Faculty accountabliity for culturally inclusive pedagogy and curricula. Liberal Education, Summer, 32-39.


Dr. James Norwood is a middle school teacher (English/Language Arts and Drama). He is very passionate about true education reform that reaches all students and all parents. Dr. Norwood possess a PhD in the area of curriculum and instruction and spends much of his time working with his school and district developing a more holistic approach to the curriculum. Contact me james@drjrn.us

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