Diversity Framework for Teacher Education at Plymouth State University

What follows is a set of principles to guide our work in the preparation of Multicultural educators:
Each Teacher Education candidate at Plymouth State University, by the conclusion of his or her program, will be able to:

  • Critically examine his or her own identity and accept that background and experiences shape one
  • Learn from and about students, families, and communities.
  • Identify and empathize with, and accept students from diverse backgrounds.
  • Become a multicultural person by exploring and learning to understand the experiences and values of others
  • Confront racism and other biases in oneself, one’s classroom, and in schools and other institutions in society.
  • Demonstrate commitment and skills to act as a change agent.
  • Implement culturally responsive teaching practices.

In order to implement these goals, candidates and faculty will need to understand and work from the following concepts:

Multicultural Education

A comprehensive approach to education that identifies, challenges and rejects all forms of discrimination in schools and society, and accepts and affirms the pluralism (ethnic, racial, linguistic, religious, economic, gender, among others) that students, their communities and teachers reflect. Multicultural education is not an add-on program, but is fundamental to every aspect of the education process: curriculum, pedagogy, policy and interactions among students, teachers, school personnel, families and community members. Multicultural education promotes democratic principles of social justice and thoughtful transformation of schools and society.

Culture

The values, traditions, social and political relationships, worldviews and ways of living created, shared and transformed by a group of people bound together by a commonality or commonalities. This commonality can be self-defined or imposed by others. Culture is socially constructed, learned implicitly and explicitly, dynamic and contextual, and multi-faceted. It influences development, learning, beliefs, identity, values and interactions.

Linguistic Diversity

Language is fundamental to identity and to learning.  Language embodies culture and provides a vital connection to family and community.  One’s native language is a foundation for future learning.   The ways in which teachers and schools respond to students’ language and dialect has profound influence on their learning.    Language differences must not be viewed as deficits.

Dynamics of Oppression and Privilege

Most definitions of racism and discrimination obscure the institutional nature of oppression.  Discrimination is not simply an individual bias; it is above all an institutional practice.  Institutional discrimination generally refers to how people are excluded or deprived of rights or opportunities as a result of the normal operations of the institution. (p.36)  The major difference between individual and institutional discrimination is the wielding of power, because it is primarily through the power of the people who control institutions such as schools that oppressive policies and practices are reinforced and legitimated. Prejudice and discrimination, then, are not just personality traits or psychological phenomena; they are also a manifestation of economic, political and social power. (p.37)  Policies  and practices rooted in discrimination have a harmful effect on groups that share a particular identity (be it racial, ethnic, gender, socioeconomic status or other (p. 35).

Student Achievement

All students have talents and strengths, and are capable of high levels of learning.  School characteristics that have been found to make a positive impact on student achievement include an enriched and more demanding curriculum, respect for students’ languages and cultures, high expectations for all students, and encouragement of parental involvement (Affirming Diversity, p. 245).  Educators have the responsibility to implement comprehensive and collaborative opportunities for family involvement because family involvement has been shown to enhance student achievement.

Action Plan:

  • Review diversity framework
  • Make necessary revisions
  • Adopt revised framework
  • Each program will use the framework to devise plans for incorporation and implementation
  • Create a procedure/instrument to systematically assess the degree to which our candidates have attained the goal of becoming multicultural educators. Identify assessment points early in the program and at the end of the program, at a minimum.