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September 26, 2012

Diversity in Today's Schools

Diversity means difference or the verities of ideas, practices and perceptions. It should be kept in mind that diversity doesn’t means division and isolation of different element and entities. Diversification can be seen in any shape and from any angle such as in cultural, lifestyle, goals, values, etc. According to the definition “The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences.” (Gladstone, 2010) The paper is comprised with the brief discussion on the diversification in the schools from the perspective of the students that belong with different culture and socio-economic backgrounds.   
The diversity in the schools, it is to play a key role to bring together the different entities, different values, different ideas and in short different variables to work in the identical environment with equal opportunities. This diversity is the catalyst to cover the social and cultural gap among the different entities. However, it should be remembered that diversity in the schools has its own pros and cons. As far as it is cons are concerned; it is a big challenge for the school teacher to pay equal attention to each and every student who has their own mindset and perceptions. Therefore, a teacher must have the ability to mold him or herself to cater the need of each and every student. This teacher quality has become the part and parcel practice because it is almost impossible for any school to develop such type of curriculum that could be fit for everyone. (Ncrel, 2010) It is the teacher who should have the quality to be customized according to the time and need demands. The Pros could be demonstrated in that way “The American educational system gains much of its prominence and strength partly because of its rich diversity of students. There are many positive advantages of diversity in the classroom, as well as the challenges it brings to educators. There are benefits society has received by including students of other cultures, races, religions, and learning styles. Diversity in the classroom has led to an increased understanding of other cultures, and brought about change in how teachers present information.” (Dozier, 1997)
Therefore, this diversity is the key catalyst that enriches the society that has different colors and converted it as an unique identity. This diversity is like the different colorful flowers and plants that cumulatively add the beauty to a garden. Therefore, in that connection a teacher should take this diversity as the opportunity of development because every student brings the unique interest, values and traditions whenever he or she joins any program and enters the classrooms. These diversified values and characteristics should be nurtured properly by addressing each and every difference that makes a teacher an appealing and acceptable personality for everyone. (Familyeducation, 2010)
Related authorities should develop comprehensive training program and series of workshops so that a teacher could be accustomed to develop and devise the customize technique and methods into his/her teaching and training program. The reason behind this modification and incorporation is that, educational institutes and schools are the hub of knowledge and education. These are the places where tolerance should be taught so that the student could be able to receive others’ ideas and perceptions. This diversity is the source to learn and understand the different culture and phenomena at one place. This learning practice will able the student to have information about the different cultures, traditions, foods and eating preferences etc., with open mind. Therefore, “As more and more students from diverse backgrounds populate 21st century classrooms, and efforts mount to identify effective methods to teach these students, the need for pedagogical approaches that are culturally responsive intensifies. Today’s classrooms require teachers to educate students varying in culture, language, abilities, and many other characteristics.” (Gollnick & Chinn, 2002) Furthermore, if these students do travel to explore the world, they will feel comparatively very flexible to adjust themselves according to the customs and traditions that will inversely help them to deliver their ideas openly. Additionally, this quality of acceptance will be the catalyst to erode the sense of superiority and prejudice, this eroding will act as catalyst to be acceptable citizen and ambassador. In USA there is gigantic amalgam of different religions and ethnic groups that are playing their role to support the USA economy directly and indirectly. Therefore, to cop, teachers this intense sensitivity roles have further become more important and inevitable to bring the different minds in one place and motivate them to work as a united team members so that their diversities could be converted as an ornamental mosaic than to be a perplexed puzzle.
The teacher should adopt the strategy as a counselor than to be a chief, in that connection, group learning techniques will be useful that will act as a bridge to cover the gap of different thoughts, perceptions and ideas that are resident as a built-in element or may develop on the basis of biased perceptions and specific ideas etc. therefore, "a teaching strategy that consists of students working together in small groups so that everyone can participate in a clearly assigned task." (Kauchak, 2005)
Integration of art into the curriculum will act as a useful tool to break the ice, bridging the gap and keep closer to the student by listening to each other’s ideas and keep sharing their own, because visual art is present in every culture but in different shapes. Therefore, this art integration will give the voice to those who are silent genius and will expand the mental horizons as well.
The author of  “An Arts Integrated Approach For Elementary-Level Students”  says that the integration of art “ encompasses an emphasis on student construction of knowledge through collaboration to make real-world connections to learning that spring out of past work, as well as on the use of reflection in continuous assessment of student learning” (Brown, 2007). According to Brown the benefits of integration are as follows:
•           Elaborate and creative thinking and problem solving
•           Verbal and nonverbal expressive abilities
•           Applied learning in new contexts
•           Increased skills in collaboration
•           Increased self-confidence
•           Higher motivation     (Brown, 2007)
The study that is done by Cassandra Bolyard encompassed the significance of artistic modalities for students and to encourage creative thought processes that would be significant over the student’s lifetime.  The arts help the student in decision making and problem solving processes as well as all core content. These understandings can later be translated easily in daily life.   (Cassandra B, 1978)
Through this integration, creativity is fostered with self-awareness and having empathy toward others. Because the art integration provide the opportunity to express the ideas openly that is the outcome of self-confidence that the ideas will be shared and is being shared, will take as a piece of information that will further be discussed not only will be criticized. This aspect as I realized during the practice is the catalyst to improve the self-awareness that how much improvement is needed with receptivity to accept other argument and ideas. The study highlights the number of ways in which the arts grow the behavioral and cognitive skills that are inevitable for success in any segment of the curriculum. (Lipe, 2010)
Summary and Conclusion
After having discussion on the student diversities and its different forms, it is obvious that diversity is the part and parcel element in the schools that can neither be avoided nor be eroded but it could be managed efficiently by observing and nurturing the different human brains and their psychoses in the perspective of providing acceptable and friendly educational environment and education by providing the maximum opportunities to express their views and ideas openly and to keep motivating them to work as a team. A teacher should be comfortable with the tools and techniques that can use and play a key role to motivate the students to work together and to build a friendly environment.


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