Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Teaching Diversity A Priority

While it is very important to cultivate teacher diversity in schools, colleges, and universities, it should not be the main goal of the educational system. Rather, teaching diversity should take priority.

Teacher diversity is when there is a closer gap between teachers and students of colors. To enhance teacher diversity is to increase the number of minority teachers, so they can reflect the growing number of minority students in the academe, and in their own classroom, particularly in the lower grades.

Minding teacher diversity is also a way to avoid racial discrimination against minority teachers, or teachers of color. In other words, minorities applying for teaching positions are not to be discriminated against specifically due to their race, and should rather be considered for hiring if the minority teacher applicant is qualified and has a genuine love and passion for teaching.

However, teacher diversity must be put into a proper perspective because teacher diversity for solely diversity's sake is somehow limited in vision.

A Role Model

One argument for teacher diversity is it inspires a student to aspire to any of the careers wherein they see someone of their own race. A minority pupil, for example, may later choose to teach, if that child has a teacher role model, one from his own ethnic background. As Esther J. Cepeda, a teacher and columnist, writes in one of her recent articles this argument doesn't hold water.

She also writes that we don't need teachers of many different ethnic and racial backgrounds. We need these role models dearly — but not just so they can minister to the minority students who are struggling through poverty. The non-minority kids at the well-to-do schools in predominantly white neighborhoods need such teachers just as much, so that they can enter an extremely diverse and evolving workforce understanding that minorities are leaders, thinkers and mentors to be respected. -Read more at

Clearly, if there is to be an authentic environment of diversity working in institutions of learning, diversity should be developed, true – for the right reasons. If we want to promote a culture of acceptance, diversity and inclusion, then it is right when a white man can teach a black girl to read, and all he sees is a child, and all she sees is a teacher.

The importance of having a minority teacher to teach a minority student should not be discounted, yet the more important point: students benefit from good teachers, whether or not they identify with them ethnically or racially.

Teacher Quality

This brings us to another argument for teacher diversity: that it helps improve students' performance in the classroom and in standardized tests.

Therefore, all means must be done to improve the quality of teachers, be they white or minorities. One way is to get back to hiring "the most qualified" person to do the job. Equality means everyone is looked at the same way and the person that is most qualified for the job gets hired.

Excellent teachers love their job with much passion and dedication, and are willing to go the extra mile for their students. Whether they "mirror" their classroom or bring diversity to their classroom, high-quality teachers make their students learn. Excellence begets excellence.

However, improving teacher quality is a long-standing issue as well, and President Obama's administration is taking action to improve teacher preparation. A press release written by the White House notes:
Recruiting, preparing, developing and supporting great teachers has a direct impact on the learning and success of America’s students. Research confirms that the most important factor in a student’s success in school is a strong teacher, and excellent teachers are especially important for our neediest students. School districts, principals, parents and children depend on great teachers to provide a world-class education. Read more here

Teaching Diversity 

Having teachers who can teach diversity, tolerance not hatred, is essential. Today’s teachers must be prepared to enter the increasingly diverse classroom, Cheryl W. Van Hook wrote in her academic paper, “Preparing Teachers for the Diverse Classroom: A Developmental Model of Inter-cultural Sensitivity.” Part of her abstract says: One role of teacher educators may be to facilitate the development of greater inter-cultural sensitivity among pre-service teachers. Teachers need to carefully examine their world view to determine whether or not unintentional and subtle biases are promoted. Therefore, it is vital that teacher educators have an awareness of these stages of personal growth related to inter-cultural sensitivity. Read more here

More than focusing on teacher diversity, more attention should be given to better training of teachers of all races and ethnicity, and preparing them to teach in the growing multi-cultural classroom of today, for in this way can they teach diversity more effectively through their own person.

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