Enhancing diversity in and through the CCT Program

The June 2000 long-term "AQUAD" plan for the CCT Program stated the following objective: "Develop during the 2001-2 academic year and begin to implement a strategic plan for increasing the social diversity of CCT students and for CCT courses to address the issues of increasing diversity." To provide material for the planning process, CCT student Michael Ruf produced a "Diversity portfolio," that surveys key ideas, references, and other resources. An overview of this portfolio is given below. The full document can be downloaded as a WORD file.

Overview of the portfolio

First, basics about multicultural education. Banks, one of the most eminent scholars of multicultural education, gives insightful introductory information about the aims of multicultural education (MCE), both for so-called minority and majority students. He argues that MCE is consistent with Western norms and values, he gives an overview of the different approaches to MCE and sketches the principles of an ideal multicultural school. A critical analysis of the rhetoric of the American melting pot is given by DeVillar. By giving historical evidence of the experience of people of color with the U.S. educational system and speaking about notions of white supremacy today, he contrasts the rhetoric of pluralism and equality with quite different facts. He also points to the persistence of segregation and the discrimination of the "model minority," the Asian Americans. Darder, an eminent critical pedagogue, provides us with a broad foundation of basic knowledge. She reflects about the concepts of language, authority, and equality. Further, she explains good and bad practices and principles in the diverse classroom. Particularly interesting is her appeal to teachers to think about her or his role and culture.

Second, culture in the classroom. The issue of the (hidden) culture of the classroom is addressed by Adams. She focuses on the often very cold experience of classroom culture by women. She explains the paradigms of "cultural deficit" versus "cultural difference," which are essential for understanding any debate about multicultural education. Bell Hooks, the fascinating Black scholar, openly speaks about her experiences of being Black at an Ivy League institution. With this personal narrative, she explains the concepts of assimilation and integration and the implied inner contradictions between these two "possibilities." In an interesting case study, a White female teacher struggles with a group of students of color in her class (Shulman). This teacher explains how she positively solved this conflict and what she learned during this process. Even more important are the comments by various observers. It is particularly striking that only the observers of color see some of the very important phenomena of this case. In another case study by Wade, a teacher speaks about the difficulty of applying so-called progressive social-constructivist methods with students of color who have an other cultural background. The teacher in this example could not understand her problems before she read Delpit’s article about culturally different interactional and learning styles. Reason enough to scrutinize this text that gives Black students a voice to speak about their anger in the classroom. Delpit offers a sociological analysis of this "silenced dialogue," leading her to the conclusion that students of color should get explicit instructions how the White norms and rules work. This intriguing and very controversial allegation is supplemented with a positive pedagogical model, a masterly Native Alaskan teacher. Very practical and concrete hints and advice how to interact in the classroom comes from Davis. Speaking briefly about general strategies, tactics against stereotypes, course content and material, discussions, assignments, and extracurricular activities, she gives a broad overview about issues to consider and supplements the more theoretical reflections so far. The existence of different cultures also implies the challenge of adequate intercultural communication. Collier speaks about cultural identities and strategies for intergroup communication.

Third, curriculum transformation. Also very personal is the story of Greene who explains her own journey from first learning the Western canon of knowledge and later being intrigued by non-Western voices, telling things she never had heard before. She also speaks about potential damages of culture’s icons, for example on persons who are not represented in the literature taught in school. By doing so, she gives convincing arguments for transforming curricula which are usually Eurocentric. Banks introduces basic terms in regard to curriculum transformation, such as curriculum infusion or global education. He explains the canon battle and the four general approaches to reform a curriculum.
Forth, diversity and critical thinking. Two articles seemed particularly related to the concept of critical thinking. New explains how teachers think about African-American students. The teachers attribute their school failure different and encourage them less than they do in regard to white students. It is crucial to question these false assumptions in order to be a good instructor for students of color. One often advocated goal in discourses is to find a consensus. Moss criticizes this ideal due to many reasons, one of them being the masking of difference.

Fifth, whiteness. Speaking always about the people of color implies that whiteness remains invisible and unquestioned. Scholars and practitioners noticed in the last years that this is wrong. This realization led to a growing discourse about those in the "majority." For all who still deny the privilege of being white, Murray offers convincing evidence of the past and the presence that to be white means to be advantaged – and often not knowing anything about it. Further, she gives psychological explanations why whites deny this privilege. However, at least equally important are the reasons for this denial from a sociological perspective. Douglas gives a long list of privileges she has as a white person, many of them occurring in everyday life. Generally, one cornerstone of this privilege is what she is not having to think about or experience. The topic of whiteness and representation is addressed by Bell Hooks. She narrates the sometimes shocking representation of people of color, but also how Whites see themselves and are regarded by Blacks. Further, she proposes the concept of "journeying" as shedding light into the experience of people. Lawrence examined a college class which had as one of its most important goals the exploration of whiteness. With different methods such as qualitative interviews, the researchers found out to what degree the students developed in regard to their "White racial identity," as proposed by Helms. The article focuses on the cases of five students who were participants of the class.

Sixth, finding a voice. For all who want to break the spiral of racism, the fear to speak (with all its disadvantages) is large. Tatum explains the costs of speaking, but also those of remaining silent. She argues that in order to reach one’s own potential and escape self-alienation, it is necessary to speak out. Again speaking very personally, Hooks talks about her own process of writing her autobiography. This was a very liberating endeavor, but also full of struggles. At some points, she did not know (and still do not) what of her memories were true and which fiction. Looking at the classroom, Cazden offers reason why the "sharing of time" is an essential activity in the school. She examined the answers of teachers to stories of the students and categorized them in four groups, according to their appropriateness. Heller offers us insight in a Women’s Writer Workshop in the Tenderloin, a part of San Francisco. She also speaks about the struggles to write in a neighborhood like the Tenderloin, but also the enormous peer support in these groups and the various functions of these workshops.

Seventh, attempts of institutions. The "National Coalition Building Institute" is a non-profit leadership organization that offers prejudice reduction workshops and support for community leaders by conducting prevention-oriented programs. I wrote to several scholars, asking them about their approach of addressing the issue of diversity in their institutions. A helpful and honest answer came from Grant Ingle, the director of Human Relations from UMass Amherst. She also points to telephone surveys which are conducted in Amherst. I summarized some of the most important facts of the "Racial and Ethnic Issues Survey." Another very helpful person was Matthew L. Ouellett, also from UMass Amherst. In his email, he explained his philosophy and what he regards as the most important issues. Particularly interesting is the "TA and Faculty Partnership Program" as described in an article he has written himself. This program is a long-term approach with the components of intensive retreat, monthly seminars, team projects and consultation, and informal events. The goal of this program was to help the instructors to develop the ability to create an inclusive classroom climate, to foster the teachers’ self-awareness, and to impact the organizational norms. Ouellett also named the "Commitment to Success Program" of the Ohio State University as a diversity initiative that promotes long-term strategies for fostering inclusive teaching and learning.

Eighth, resources. I compiled the literature that I considered useful for addressing diversity in a university setting. The two books of Musil and the one of the AACU did not find its way into this portfolio but seem promising for starting to make a campus more diverse. Finally, I made an overview of some of the resources in regard to multicultural education that can be found in the internet.

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