Brenda Rodriguez, interim director for the Chicago Public Schools project of the Center for School and Community Development at North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, discusses the challenges educators face in thinking about diversity in the classroom. Excerpted from a videotaped interview with Brenda Rodriguez (North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, 1998).
"Traditionally, we've viewed the term diversity in terms of gender and race, but more and more, we're realizing that it involves much much more, we're talking about not just the notions of race, we're talking about language and linguistics, we're talking about learning disability, different kinds of unique learning style, we're also talking about different kinds of families and what that means in the classroom. That poses a great challenge for educators in terms of speaking about diversity and what that might mean to them. They no longer mean stereotyping or limiting a particular description, but how do I look at all of my students in the classroom and what they're doing, and all those diverse contexts that they may represent. The other thing is that we have to then begin to think about students in terms of their unique personalities and their unique gifts and what that might mean. That influences all the work we do in terms of the way we develop curriculum, the way we might teach, the way we might interact with their families, they way we might interact with them as individuals, and the way we push them interacting with one another."
This Critical Issue was written by Ginger Rodriguez, a Chicago-area writer and editor specializing in educational issues, in collaboration with Judy Caplan, coordinator of school and family partnerships at North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. Additional expertise was provided by Judy Harris Helm, president of Best Practices Inc., an educational consulting firm in Brimfield, Illinois.
Date posted: 1998