TEACHING FOR DIVERSITY
This site is for K-12 educators in provinces and territories across Canada. It provides resources and strategies to teach for and about diversity, with a specific focus on ethnic and cultural diversity. The site was compiled by a national research team, and provides an overview and history of ethnic diversity in Canada, a framework of diversity education, myths and misconceptions, resources, research, and examples of multicultural children’s literature.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY ‘ETHNIC AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY’?
Diversity is a term that is often used to describe all kinds of differences among groups of people, whether the group is a classroom, a community, a nation, or the world. There are many aspects to diversity, such as income levels, ability, sexuality, and gender to name just a few. This site focuses specifically on ethnic and cultural diversity, which means focusing on groups of people who share distinctive language, traditions, religion, and/or cultural practices.
Many people think of recent immigrants when they think of ethnic and cultural diversity. And certainly, Canada takes in more immigrants per capita every year than any other country in the world, so ethnic and cultural diversity will continue to be a prominent feature of Canadian life. Yet, when teaching and learning about ethnic and cultural diversity in Canada it is important to remember it has a long history. In fact, diversity in Canada is the very heart of the overlapping histories of people who have lived in this shared territory. It is crucial for students to develop understanding of those histories and how the country has recognized them in law and social policy.
WHY FOCUS ON TEACHING FOR DIVERSITY?
There are very few educators that have not experienced some type of diversity in their classroom. And even in classrooms where everyone looks the same, issues of ethnic and racial diversity need to be addressed to prepare students to navigate Canada’s multicultural society. As more and more teachers can attest, Canadian society is becoming more and more visibly and invisibly diverse. Teaching for diversity means not only introducing students to different cultures but also developing strategies, curricula, and networks to discuss and teach differences meaningfully and productively.
As you look through the information and resources on this site, you will see many references to terms like social justice, anti-racism, and critical thinking. These terms are used with the belief, shared by the researchers involved in this web site, that teaching for diversity can become a way for students and teachers alike to think deeply about our own attitudes and assumptions toward people different from ourselves, and learn together how to acknowledge and appreciate differences, while also recognizing that society does not treat differences the same or fairly. Teaching for diversity, we believe, means providing students with the knowledge and skills that can build a society that values all forms of diversity.