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Diversity and Identity in Education

Nick Bentley-Lead Practitioner 

Follow him on Twitter: @MrBentleyTweets

The young people we teach are as diverse as the society we live in; including in terms of ethnicity, gender and gender identity, religion, sexuality and disability, to suggest but a few characteristics. If all of our students are to make the most out of their schooling, I would argue that they must be able to see themselves reflected across the curriculum, and that they should be in a learning- and living- environment in which they can thrive. Given this, can we truly say that the educational experiences we provide for those young people always meet these diversities? And if not, how can we make these positive changes, for our young people and ourselves?

With these questions in mind, I have endeavoured to suggest some potential sources of support below. These are all people and networks to whom I am very much indebted and grateful.

    1. Our Students: Though it may seem obvious, actually starting with the young people who are the centre of all we do, can be really helpful in working out how to reflect their lives in the curriculum. How would they wish to be represented? What is working well? What future opportunities might there be? I have always found discussing these matters with my students to be the most important starting point.
    2. Our Colleagues: I have been incredibly lucky to benefit from having wonderful colleagues who are very supportive, and who I have worked alongside to (amongst other things) run LGBTQ+ inclusive CPD, establish an LGBTQ+ student group and attend the #Diverse Educators Event. I strongly believe that collaborating with supportive colleagues is essential in having the biggest impact on diversifying students’ experience!
    3. Our Allies: There are incredible grassroots movements which seek to inspire educators and the movements of #WomenEd #BAMEed and #DisabilityEd have provided many teachers with new ideas and connections, but also opportunities to share what they are doing. Given my own identity, I have personally been wonderfully impressed by the work of other educators connected by #LGBTEd and through amazing celebrations in LGBT History Month. Yet I am highly aware of my own social privilege, and it is wonderfully helpful to work with colleagues who recognise where they can help and support all of our students in an inclusive manner. In the spirit of solidarity, working with others on this really can make us stronger.
    4. Our Curriculum: As teachers, so many of our interactions with young people are in the classroom. Building a fully and genuinely inclusive curriculum is so important, to represent our all of our students in all of their diversity- it can also help engage them in their learning! There are so many ways in which we might be able to do this. Do we use diverse people in examples of data sets in Maths and Science? Do we give students the opportunities to respond to or create diverse stories in Drama and English? Do we celebrate the work of diverse individuals in Art, History and Music? Interrogating our own lessons and curriculum to ensure we represent and celebrate students’ diverse identities can be an integral way of celebrating diversity in schools.
    5. Ourselves: We can empower ourselves to make positive change in our schools; from the way we speak to students, to the lessons we teach and the extra curricular opportunities we run. As educators, and as the people our students see on a daily basis, we really do have a choice to making changes in our lessons and in our schools so that our diverse young people get the schooling they deserve; that they are celebrated and that they thrive!

2 thoughts on “Diversity and Identity in Education”

  1. Really interesting read, Nick. Obviously we need to keep working on all of these things, but I do think we need to raise the profile of diversity in the curriculum. I know we talked about before about actualisation and usualisation, but I think we need to keep sounding the drum for this.

    Really important to do the same for other diversity groups also.

    Like

    1. Thank you for your kind and encouraging words! I completely agree about “banging the drum” and keeping this conversation going as well. We can do this!

      Like

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