June 8, 2020

Conversations About Diversity And Inclusiveness With Our Students

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else,” — a paradox oftentimes uttered for amusement. The clever arrangement of words and concept of the quoted statements can be used to open up a conversation about diversity and inclusiveness with our students.

Each learner has his or her own story to tell, stories that are mostly influenced by different background factors. Take for example, A) An immigrant boy, raised by a single parent, who has to help with work to make ends meet on top of doing his school work. B) An uptown girl, raised by an established local family, who has the leisure of time and financial resources to aid her in her education. Boy A and girl B are exposed to different environment settings, and this may have an effect on their learning.

“All Australian governments and all school sectors must provide all students with access to high-quality schooling that is free from discrimination based on gender, language, sexual orientation, pregnancy, culture, ethnicity, religion, health or disability, socioeconomic background or geographic location” (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, 2008). Inclusion is therefore not a choice but an obligation as stated in the Melbourne Declaration on Education Goals for Young Australians.

Educational technology can be used to spread and strengthen the concepts of diversity and inclusion within the school community. Representation of different learners’ culture, ethnicity, religion, etcetera can be integrated in the learning modules prepared by educators. A small thing it may seem, but it could have far-reaching results, as it normalizes diversity and each learner will feel that “they belong”. Inclusive school communities are expected to make each student feel accepted, and that they are truly part of the community.

Elearning need not to be a hindrance to educators. Edtech allows educators to fine tune teaching strategies and adjust learning processes, and to be more inclusive of all types of learning styles. Learning videos and apps that focuses on the use of pictures and sound could be integrated to provide a new approach of providing content to learners with different ways of learning. Teacher tools can also be used by educators and parents/guardians alike to communicate better with each other, make recommendations to aid the learner, and provide a safer and secure internet environment.

In the words of Dr Kevin Maxwell,

“Our job is to teach the students we have.

Not the ones we would like to have.

Not the ones we used to have.

Those we have right now.

All of them.”