Racial and cultural diversity are hallmarks of our society. To celebrate this diversity, and cultivate harmony and respect for all peoples, educators must nurture equality and inclusion within the classroom. Students enter the classroom carrying an assortment of beliefs. This may include racial and cultural prejudices picked up from their neighborhoods, pop culture, and their families. Educators can help combat prejudice and racial discord by supporting positive behaviors among students, fostering a sense of belonging for all students and their families, and instilling respect for all peoples.
We’ve gathered a range of resources to help educators create a culturally inclusive classroom, one that celebrates diversity and inclusion in education while encouraging students to spread the values of inclusion and cultural respect in their everyday lives. Providing instruction through a lens of diversity promotes tolerance of people with differing ideals and practice. It fosters cultural respect and understanding of ‘the other,’ and may even reduce bullying.
Providing equitable access to education and supporting tolerance of those who look different or have special needs creates a positive effect on learning. Classroom management falters when students experience friction with other students. By actively engaging in learning activities that instill respect for diversity, the classroom can become a place where respect is a cornerstone and intolerance becomes abhorrent.
The classroom isn’t an island. Its walls, even adorned with posters of diverse figures from history, are porous to ideas. By teaching students about the contributions that all cultures bring to our society, educators can encourage them to spread this respect for diversity beyond school. Integrated and diverse classrooms promote critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity. Racial and economic diversity within the classroom results in higher test scores – a quantifiable benefit, of course – but the less tangible reward, a respect for the dignity of every human, is the bedrock of any healthy community.