Cultural diversity goes further than race, gender, and sexuality. Language, religion, and economic background are all features of cultural diversity alive right now in our learning environment. Yes, we must work harder to be inclusive in our hiring practices and encourage diversity among educators so that learners can see themselves reflected in those who mentor and support them. However, all of us also need to look at our approach to exploring diversity and inclusion in the learning environment.
Before “teaching” diversity, educators need to get their own house in order. Becoming culturally responsive and racially aware is a journey, which can be uncomfortable and profound. How many educators take this journey, to question their own biases, examine their privilege, and to recognize and acknowledge the lived experience of others, have you?
The path to global citizenship can begin in the learning environment. The lens through which each learner views the world is not to be left at the front door. The way we communicate and respond to each other, the nuances of our approach to relationships, the way we demonstrate status, the beliefs we hold about the “other”, and the language we use to frame them; all of of this diversity is within our learning environments now, ready to be explored.
-Closing the Cultural Diversity Gap
Some learning environments are only accessible to those who can afford it. Some reflect the community around them and others are islands. Regardless of diversity, inclusion and awareness are far from a given. In all these scenarios there can be a gap, not just between the learners and the world, but within themselves too. To be supported to explore and celebrate who we are what we bring to the table is just as vital as the space to learn the stories of others. The community around us is a rich resource to connect our learners to richer learning experiences. and whether it is a tour of black-owned businesses or making sweets to bring to the local Bandi Chor Divas, learners benefit from stepping outside their typical environments and learning more about what connects us all.