Diversity as a value


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Having a diverse group of pupils simply means recognizing that all the people are unique in their own way. Their differences could consist of their reading level, athletic ability, cultural background, personality, religious beliefs, etc. There has always been diversity in the classroom, but in today society it is important to embrace it and make positive use of it.

Teachers/educators should value diversity and they need to model this attitude to their pupils. When people value diversity, they recognize and respect the fact that people are different and that these differences are generally a good thing. For example, when attempting to solve a problem, it is better to assemble a diverse team with many skills and many different ways of approaching the problem than it is to assemble a team that has all their strength concentrated in one area. Also, as our society becomes more diverse, it is important that students learn to value and use diversity to the greater good.

Teachers already have a number of roles in the classroom; yet, valuing diversity is one of the most important ones a teacher must fill.

Promoting equality and diversity in education is essential for both teachers/educators and pupils. The aim is to create a classroom environment where all pupils can thrive together and understand that individual characteristics make people unique and not ‘different’ in a negative way.

Promoting equality and diversity in the classroom need not be a challenge and is something that all children should be familiar with from an early age.

This means:

  • Setting clear rules in regards to how people should be treated.
  • Challenging any negative attitudes.
  • Treating all staff and students fairly and equally.
  • Creating an all-inclusive culture for staff and pupils.
  • Avoiding stereotypes in examples and resources.
  • Using resources with multicultural themes.
  • Actively promoting multiculturalism in lessons.
  • Planning lessons that reflect the diversity of the classroom.
  • Ensuring all pupils have equal access to opportunities and participation.
  • Making sure that learning materials do not discriminate against anyone and are adapted where necessary, e.g. large print or audio tape format.
  • Using a variety of teaching methods.
  • Using a variety of assessment methods.
  • Ensuring policies and procedures don’t discriminate against anyone.

To ensure that we value diversity and consider the individual’s identity appropriately in teaching, the following principles may be useful:

  • Recognise that we need to treat all learners as individuals and respond to them, and their social identity, in an individual manner.
  • Understand that treating people fairly does not mean treating people in the same way – we need to recognise difference and respond appropriately.
  • Respect all learners regardless of their protected characteristic or social situation.
  • Try to increase our knowledge and understanding of aspects of social identity that may be different from our own.
  • Avoid stereotyping or making assumptions about learners based on their social identity.
  • Recognise that some course content may impact on some learners in a negative or difficult way because of an aspect of their social identity.
  • Recognise that the course structure, e.g. timing of lectures, unsociable hours, weekend working, and so on, may impact on some learners more than others.
  • Recognise that your own social identity may impact on learners in different ways.
  • Avoid using inappropriate and disrespectful language relating to social identity or social situations.

The protected characteristics are:

  • Age.
  • Disability.
  • Gender reassignment.
  • Marriage and civil partnership.
  • Pregnancy and maternity.
  • Race.
  • Religion or belief.
  • Sex.
  • Sexual orientation.

In regards to teaching this may mean:

  • Paying attention to the needs of pupils from diverse groups within your course design – including an equality analysis/impact assessment processes in your course development is a useful way of ensuring that you give due consideration to inclusivity and accessibility.
  • Making explicit to pupils the standards of conduct that you expect in the way that they interact and dealing promptly and appropriately with inappropriate behaviour.
  • Identifying opportunities within your teaching for students to work collaboratively in diverse groups.
  • Devising creative and respectful ways of using the diverse experiences of pupils to add value to the learning experience for everyone.


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Title: Equality and Diversity Classroom Activities

Objective: To provide teachers with different activities and ideas to help promote multiculturalism in their schools

Contents: Here are a few classroom activities and ideas that you can use and adapt to help promote multiculturalism in your school in order:

  • To include diversity within your teaching methods.
  • To make reference and use examples from a variety of cultures, religions and traditions.
  • To challenge stereotypes.
  1. Use current news and events – Discuss at class current situations where people are being discriminated and see what your pupils think and understand about it.
  2. Make a list with things from abroad –  Ask your students to list what things that they use in their daily life come from abroad. Are they surprised about the result?
  3. Inclusion in activities at class – Make sure that when you use examples, posters and any kind or resources, they include people from different backgrounds, with disabilities, special needs…
  4. Quizzes – Use quizzes to learn about different cultures, religions, disabilities, etc. You can also involve pupils to prepare them each week.
  5. Prepared themed weeks – Host for example “Indian week”, “Islam week”, “Disability week” … and prepare materials, samples of food, pictures and activities about that theme. You can use events that are celebrating too as “Chinese New Year, “Ramadan” to explain why each occasion is celebrated and share with your pupils what are they enjoying the most.
  6. Learn languages – Teach your pupils words in different languages to raise their awareness of language barriers around the world and to discuss about the benefits of talking more than a language?
  7. Analyse stereotyped popular expressions – Take different popular expressions where people are discriminated by sex, origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, etc. and ask your students about the stereotypes behind and how people can feel when they listen them.
    For instance:
    “All his family are delinquents, what else can you expect…”
    “He is single and mature, he is homosexual for sure”
    “Woman at the wheel is a danger”
    “He/she works like a black man/woman”
    “Lame people blame the bad conditions of the stony path”
    “How many breads are there in the oven? 21 burnt!! Who did it? The Jewish dog”
  8. Hearing/sight/physical impairment games – Play games to raise awareness of different physical disabilities. Can your students put on a jumper with just one hand? Can they guide a friend around the classroom with a blindfold on? Can they lip-read what the characters on TV are saying with the sound off? Use these activities to show the difficulties that people face and explain how these people learn to overcome them.
  9. Jigsaws about countries – Make your own jigsaws to match facts, flags, languages… with their country.
  10. Play music – Bring world music or/and bring instruments from other countries.
  11. Tell stories – Use stories that challenge perceptions and stereotypes to encourage your pupils to think about their beliefs and look at the world in a different way.

Materials: paper, pens, flipchart paper, computer to play music and video samples of food, music instruments (or pictures with music instruments).

 Case studies

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Let´s suppose that you are a teacher of second grade pupils. In a supervised session a pupil, Mike, expresses a concern to you: one of his best friends, Sarah, has confessed him that she is pretty sure that she is lesbian.

Mike is not comfortable at all with this confession. He thinks that lesbians are always bad tempered and talking about sad things. He feels that it is not acceptable to be a lesbian, but he wants to maintain a positive relationship with his friend.

Mike requests to you to ask Sarah to not refer to her sexuality again.

Questions for reflection:

  • What answer would you give to Mike?
  • Do you think it would be necessary to set clear rules in regards to how people should be treated?
  • How would you work the theme of stereotypes and diversity in the classroom?
  • Would you employ strategies to support the needs of the pupils?
  • What strategies?