Thursday, May 29, 2008

Week Eleven - Cultural diversity

As we discussed in the previous posts making our programs fair & accessible to all is a very important goal.

With cultural diversity we have I guess just a different slant on those fundamentals.

As we adapt our teaching method resources for different learning styles & cater for learning difficulties, location & disabilities we also must accept peoples backgrounds, cultural beliefs & commitments. These could include language, dress, holidays, prayer times etc, but also learning styles.

So far in my teaching career I would like to think that I have a collective view of my students but will try to accept the students as individuals who learn best at differing speeds and styles.

I don't prejudice anybody regardless of age, sex, race or religion.

Last year I had my first incidence of cultural discrimination.

The opportunity arose via the pacific island support centre to welcome 3 of my students to Otago Polytechnic & apply for grants totalling approx $1000.

I passed these applications to the students and consequently two of them received scholarships enabling them to enrol for year 2 of their quals , something both of them would be unable to do without funding.

When the other students found out about this there was some anger at why they were singled out but others who were unable to afford future enrolments could receive any funding.

This was a very difficult question to answer when indeed the scholarships are race based.

I spoke to a friend a Lecturer at Otago University about this and she spoke about positive discrimination & gave me statistics on education success rates within ethnic minorities & also crime & mortality rates which inturn can be linked to poverty. Obviously these problems are global. Although other students dismissed my answers to their questions I wholeheartedly believe in our efforts to not only accept people of all backgrounds but also to target those in need of specific help be it time, resources, funding or understanding.

1 comment:

Bronwyn hegarty said...

This account of a tricky situation around race-based scholarships illustrates that it is not always easy to keep the punters happy.

There is also an element of grumbling by someone no matter what you do - isn't that right? What is fair and equitable for one person, may be seen as disadvantageous to another.

In some ways it would make more sense to have some more opportunities for low income people to access education. I know WINZ supports people to study but not everyone is unemployed or on DPB etc benefits. There are still a lot of low income families in employment who could ldo with some help.

I am really enjoying reading your stories, and I really like the way you are applying your learning to your experiences.