Modern education needs to address the issue of diversity since contemporary society consists of people with different characteristics. Students need to acquire not only academic knowledge but also cultural competence skills that can only be learned in an inclusive community. Creating separate classes based on student differences is not an effective strategy as it does not provide opportunities for interaction. Thus, it is necessary to develop specialized academic courses in which students can also acquire multicultural experiences.
Modern society is diverse on many levels, including racial, cultural, linguistic, and gender differences. This feature also applies to school environments where students have common learning goals but different backgrounds. Thus, students may have a number of special needs that must be considered in order to build a successful educational process. The community is characterized by a high level of racial diversity which also determines the diversity of the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of students. The educational context comprises representatives of different gender and class groups, which further increases the level of diversity. The school district is also aware of the importance of the needs of members with learning impairments.
Despite the existing differences, the students of the organization are similar in their aspirations to achieve the best learning outcomes. Additionally, all students within a diverse community need to feel social equality, within which all differences are addressed. Thus, the main task of the community is to develop strategies for inclusive learning, which focuses not only on the acquisition of knowledge by students but also on meeting their specific needs.
Currently, there is increased attention in the community to the need to develop programs aimed at promoting diversity. U.S. Department of Education (2017) notes that “a successful plan should include community participation in order to build community ownership and ensure representation of diverse perspectives” (p. 1). The district is currently actively evaluating the opportunities for diversity promotion in the community. This step includes collecting feedback from community members to confirm the need to develop new strategies. Moreover, communication with community representatives and students allows for collecting relevant data aimed at analyzing the level of diversity and those needs that should be addressed. Based on the information received, it will be possible to develop a suitable course of study that would effectively promote inclusiveness in the learning process for all students.
Currently, the organization is actively introducing magnet school elements that allow students to use special curricula. A particular focus is placed on the ability to provide students with a choice of development paths that would consider their interests. In particular, students have the opportunity to attend classes in which they can acquire knowledge from special fields such as technology, law, or math. This program allows better address the diverse needs of students, as well as develop their abilities for critical thinking and evaluation of knowledge. Additionally, the program helps to “bring students from different social, economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds together” (U.S. Department of Education, 2017, p. 10). However, currently, the district is in need of introducing courses aimed at studying the cultural and linguistic characteristics of the society.
With the growing public attention to promoting diversity in the educational context, more and more researchers confirm the relevance of the program existing in the community. Hoover (2018) underline that modern educational strategies need to incorporate “more comprehensive culturally and linguistically diverse best practices incorporated into special educator preparation” (p. 174). The need for students to examine the cultural characteristics of society is increasing, which creates the need to develop courses addressing these aspects. However, Hymel and Katz (2019) specify that simple contact with different ethnic, linguistic, or socioeconomic groups within the educational context is not enough. Social dynamics are as important as academic opportunities, so students need to be supported to develop interpersonal interactions within the educational context.
The program presented in the organization allows students to participate in communication with other participants in the educational process. Goethe and Colina (2018) stress that the diverse experience of students significantly enhances their learning outcomes. Thus, participation in specialized courses in the inclusive space allows students to assimilate not only academic but also social knowledge. Schwarzenthal et al. (2019) argue that intergroup interaction within the diversity context allows you to eliminate prejudices, as well as stimulate the development of multicultural competencies. Thus, the provision of special courses for students supports their interests, as it allows them to choose individual subjects. Moreover, the participation of representatives of various groups within the framework of one course allows the members to communicate on academic activities developing multicultural competence.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Existing research emphasizes that dividing the multicultural community into separate classes that only include members of the same group is ineffective. Thus, specialized courses aimed at acquiring academic knowledge can be used to develop the cultural competence of students. The existing program is a promising area for the development of an inclusive educational environment. However, there is a significant challenge that needs to be addressed for implementation. Primarily, the teaching and student support strategy needs to be modified. Du Plessis (2019) underlines that a highly competent teacher plays a crucial role in learning outcomes and needs special training to promote cultural competence in the classroom. Thus, it is necessary not only to transform courses according to the agenda but also to provide teachers with sufficient knowledge for effective execution. This recommendation is consistent with the community goals and priorities, as it allows students to focus on the acquisition of specialized knowledge alongside multicultural competence.
Du Plessis, A. E. (2019). Barriers to effective management of diversity in classroom contexts: The out-of-field teaching phenomenon. International Journal of Educational Research, 93, 136-152. Web.
Goethe, E. V., & Colina, C. M. (2018). Taking advantage of diversity within the classroom. Journal of Chemical Education, 95, 189-192. Web.
Hoover, J. J. (2018). Exceptionality, diversity, and educator preparation: Overview of the topical issue. Teacher Education and Special Education, 41(3), 173-175. Web.
Hymel, S., & Katz, J. (2019). Designing classrooms for diversity: Fostering social inclusion. Educational Psychologist, 54(4), 331-339. Web.
Schwarzenthal, M., Schachner, M. K., Juang, L. P., & van de Vijver, F. (2019). Reaping the benefits of cultural diversity: Classroom cultural diversity climate and students’ intercultural competence. European Journal of Social Psychology, 50(2), 323-346. Web.
U.S. Department of Education. (2017). Improving outcomes for all students: Strategies and considerations to increase student diversity [PDF file]. U.S. Department of Education. Web.