I truly believe that education makes all people equal and that diversity in education is important in today’s world. Diversity means accepting other people who may be different from yourself in regards to race, religion, social status, or political persuasion. It means getting to know people as individuals and including them in work and social issues. People are individuals regardless of race or color or how they have been brought up. People often look at the meaning of diversity from a narrow perspective, but they might overlook other aspects like age, disability, personality, and sexual orientation. Although education can raise people’s economic circumstances, thereby evening out the playing field and making everyone more equal, it is still important to recognize and celebrate our differences.
I am a first-generation immigrant from China and began college when I was 20 years old. I was inspired by the many great professors who helped me along the way. These teachers whom I worked alongside and learned from each came from different countries and cultures and I was amazed at how they positively contributed to the overall school climate and culture. Each of these individuals was invaluable and enriched my own professional and personal life.
My own cultural competency is built on many years of teaching experience. As an instructor within post-secondary environments, I have had the opportunity to teach a diverse student population. Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of teaching students of differing cultural, economic, and religious backgrounds. I am currently teaching Macroeconomics to a wide-ranging group of students including those from Korea, India, China, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso. I have attended schools with students from over 80 nations, schools with a 35% Asian population, and experienced the impact of diversity on school experiences. Attending a diverse school really does allow for exposure to a wide variety of world viewpoints that expands one’s horizons and prepares an individual for the real world. By interacting with people belonging to different cultures and varied backgrounds, I was able to know more about the world, society, politics, and the global community. Having a diverse school matters because it helps to feel included, boosts acceptance, benefits leadership, and strengthens respect.
I have cared about the students I have taught, and some have risen from profound socioeconomic disadvantages to achieve scholarships, attend college, and foster successful lives for themselves. I have never seen my students in terms of their race, economic background, or gender; I have only seen them as the priceless human beings they are. Their different backgrounds and identities only serve to make the classroom that much more vibrant, often lending diverse perspectives to the learning material that is as varied as the students in my classroom.
Teachers have a great responsibility and duty to their students. Effective educators must ensure their class is conducive for everyone which means diversity in the classroom, equity, considering unique learning styles, and an awareness of stereotypes. The diverse classroom involves serving all students and focusing on multicultural learning needs. Equity is an understanding that not all students are the same and an equitable classroom considers the cultural background of its students. Focusing on learning styles not only helps me to teach more effectively but also work towards closing the achievement gap. And lastly, being aware of stereotypes is crucial and it is important to remember that every student is an individual. We must consider a student’s culture when lesson planning or preparing activities.
We, as teachers, also need to promote an inclusive classroom by being conscious of our own prejudices, addressing unconscious bias, and incorporating cultural awareness into the curriculum. This means that student’s unique identities and backgrounds need to be acknowledged, supported, appreciated, and celebrated within the classroom to help all students thrive. Ultimately, I want to utilize the diverse voices, backgrounds, and cultures of my students to build an inclusive and vibrant learning community where individuals are celebrated for their uniqueness, different perspectives enriching classroom dialogue, and where everyone can work together to achieve academic success.