Diversity to me involves the understanding of different types of individuals. Diverse characteristics can often include race, gender, ethnicity, class, exceptionality, and orientation. Diversity is apparent in all aspects of our culture today and aspects of different types of diversity often affect our overall way of living. Understanding diversity and improving diversity in schools overall is essential to the educational process and detrimental to increasing student achievement.
Diversity entails an understanding that differences in race, gender, ethnicity, social class, and exceptionality exist. Often too many times in education, the major focus is on race, particularly the achievement gap between African-American males and White males. While the achievement gap between these two major subgroups does tend to be the widest as far as overall achievement, other groups cannot be neglected in order for diversity to be addressed correctly in our schools. Diversity can be seen from different aspects in educational settings. The most apparent can be seen among the student composition.
Student composition can be used often to indentify differences in learning styles between different groups. In the past, prior to desegregation, racial composition within schools would be much less apparent. Since the time of Brown v. Board of Education however, you can see clear differences in how schools are set up based upon composition. “Uncovering the effects of school racial composition on achievement is difficult, because racial mixing in the schools is not an accident but instead represents a complex mixture of government and family choices. ” (Hanushek, Kain, Rivkin, 2002) Understanding this aspect can be seen every day in schools.
Although in most cases diversity is seen as a positive in our society, it is often blamed for most of our problems in our society, particularly with education. What is not accounted for is how the lack of understanding of diversity is what often causes the difficulty in explaining how some groups of students are successful and some groups aren’t. After all, “if educational failure were caused only by students’ background and other social characteristics, it would be difficult to explain why similar students are successful in some classrooms and schools and not in others.