We Are All Different

I love this graphic!  It is a great visual of how diversity exists in adult education.      http://www.diversityaustralia.com.au/about-us/

We usually associate the term ‘diversity’ with race or gender.  But diversity in its largest sense refers to the differences of all kinds between students.  Diversity doesn’t stop at the obvious…we must go beyond common thinking and need to open our eyes to our “multicultural classrooms in which multiple intelligences and culturally ground ways of knowing coexist” (Brookfield, 2015, p. 97).  I think diversity is evident in every classroom, but when we get to adult education, the variety of students explodes as we now have adults with previous life/educational experiences, jobs, preferred learning styles, other obligations and commitments, etc.

As an instructor, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the diversity we face in the classroom.  We cannot ignore it or try to remain blissfully unaware.  It exists.  Brookfield (2015) suggests that instructors should try to gauge its presence in the classroom.  We might use instruments to assess learning styles, personality types, pre-formative evaluations,  or informal testing such as asking for a show of hands or using clickers to respond to a set of questions.  But we can get bogged down focusing on what makes each of the students different.  But we must remember that the attention should be on their learning.  The students are taking the course with the expectation of learning, and this is where our energy should be going.  Certainly, depending on the type of course you are teaching, diversity may play a large or small role in the instructional activities, but the focus should always be to help the students learn.

Reference:  Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The skillful teacher: On technique, trust, and responsiveness in the classroom (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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