What Is Diversity?

Note: Refer to the Discussion Board Rubric in the MSED Documents folder under Course Home to familiarize yourself with the evaluative criteria for Discussion Board Assignments.

How do you define diversity? Consider how language as a construct has a fairly concrete embodiment for people: You can hear language, and you can see it on the written page. Culture, on the other hand, is a more elusive notion and is more difficult to pin down. Nieto (2000) has defined culture in the following way:

Culture consists of the values, traditions, social and political relationships, and worldview created, shared, and transformed by a group of people bound together by a common history, geographic location, language, social class, and/or religion.

Culture includes not only tangibles such as foods, holidays, dress, and artistic expression, but also less tangible manifestations such as communication style, attitudes, values, and family relationships. These features of culture are often more difficult to pinpoint, but doing so is necessary if we want to understand how student learning may be affected. (pp. 139–140)

In their book, Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves, authors Derman-Sparks and Olsen Edwards (2010) write:

The word culture refers to how particular groups of people live. It is the way we eat, sleep, talk, play, care for the sick, relate to one another, think about work, arrange our kitchens, and remember our dead. It includes the language we speak, the religion or spirituality we practice (or do not), and the clothing, housing, food, and rituals/holidays with which we feel most comfortable. (p. 55)

Your definition of language and culture has been shaped by your life, your work, and your experiences; as such, your definition differs from that of others. 

In this Discussion, you will examine diversity from a personal and professional perspective. You also will explore the challenges and opportunities of teaching and learning in culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms.

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