celebrating diversity

Celebrating Jim Cummins’ work in The African Storybook Project

Those of you familiar with the phenomenal work of Jim Cummins are aware of the importance of mother tongue development in literacy, academic development and second language learning. At our own Celebrating Linguistic Diversity Conference in 2014 Bonny Norton gave a very powerful keynote address (fourth video down) summarizing the work of Dr. Cummins and how it directly applies to her own work in Africa, entitled The African Storybook Project. Dr. Norton provides us with an overview of Dr. Cummins’ work, discussing how it has influenced her own work, and enumerating the intersectionality of both of their work. This is an important video to watch and re-watch. How does your work intersect with the work of Dr. Cummins and Dr. Norton? How does the celebration of linguistic diversity and specifically the development of languages in school contribute to Diversity in Teaching? We would love to hear your comments.

Diversity in the teaching workforce

Kate Walsh, President of the National Council on Teacher Quality, presents an excellent discussion on ways to effectively increase diversity among the teaching workforce. The Shanker Institute reports that diversity among teachers is decreasing. Walsh argues that rather than lowering standards to encourage minority students to enroll in teacher preparation programs, focus should be given to “make teacher preparation programs an inviting place for college students who want to learn and work hard—no matter what their race—by making the professional coursework more rigorous and substantial.”

Walsh also suggests seeking effective solutions without sacrificing teacher quality for the students who most need great teachers. “Rather than perpetuating the myth that teaching is a job that anyone can do, let’s increase recruitment efforts and seek out the people who have the academic aptitude to become our next generation of great teachers.”

Personally I would say that all students need great teachers, not just minority students. All students would benefit from sitting under a diverse teacher population. The advantages for increasing teacher diversity are not only a benefit for minority students, but also benefit majority students, while contributing toward creation of a more equitable and respectful society.We all need to learn from each other and learn to respect each other rather than weighting our preferences for those most similar to ourselves culturally. Walsh’s write-up and suggestions are good, but she doesn’t go far enough to make the case for diversity among the workforce. Read her entire article here. Then add your own comments below.

Developing cross-cultural understanding and appreciation

There is an effort to develop cross cultural understanding and appreciation in spite of the fact that this school is only teaching one lesson a week. Just being introduced to other cultures is helpful for understanding one another and looking beyond our own narrow perspectives. Consider what this school is doing to promote cross-cultural understanding. Then let us know your thoughts! How can each of us become more active in developing appreciation and understanding of people from other perspectives?