Week Four – Inclusive Education: Diversity and Difference

During my time in the school over the past four weeks, I have come to notice a few different types of diversity present in the classroom. The first type of diversity I’ve noticed since my first visit is the variation in learning levels among the children. Some children are eager to dive into classroom activities, and finish them correctly with ease. Others are not as enthusiastic about the activities and attempt to avoid participation, or, when they do participate, struggle through the activities. As I’ve mentioned before, reading (and writing) are huge concepts of focus in grade one, and the variation of learning levels is perhaps most apparent through these concepts. Some children love to read, and are reading longer books at up to a grade two level. Other children are not as enthused with reading or struggle with it, and are reading very elementary level books. I have had this conversation with both my cooperating teacher and my partner, and we all agree how astonishing this diversity is. My cooperating teacher respects this diversity by doing what she can to give extra help and encouragement to the students who need it.

The second type of diversity I have noticed is racial diversity. While most of the school is made up of caucasian students, there are a few students of other races. This racial diversity doesn’t appear to have a big impact on the school as far as I can tell. This kind of diversity appears to be respected by all if not most, as there is no controversy surrounding it within the school. Sometimes racial diversity can become an issue as students get older, but from what I have observed in my classroom, all students are equally accepting of each other regardless of race. I think this is one of the true charms children’s innocence, one that we should model ourselves after as adults.

The third type of diversity I have observed is that regarding religion. As my partner (Adam) mentioned in-depth last week, there is a girl in the classroom who must sometimes participate differently in certain activities because of her family’s religious beliefs. I see my cooperating teacher respecting this diversity by giving her modified versions of activities other children are working on, and allowing her to refrain from other activities when needed.

Perhaps one type of diversity that is not apparent is how some children learn. All of the students learn the same lessons with the same end goal in mind, but some children may need to use different strategies to achieve that end goal. I think this is a topic that will become more popular in the coming years. Traditional learning strategies don’t always work for all students, and new strategies may have to be incorporated into the classroom to help all students learn. Another invisible type of diversity could be family life. Each child comes form a different family dynamic, which can sometimes affect that child’s learning for better or for worse. In these two cases especially, I think it is important to address the invisible cases of diversity in order to ultimately benefit each child’s education.