Teacher education and issues of diversity Teaching in

education and issues of diversity

Teaching in a culturally diverse class necessitates
having to be in a ready to address the student’s needs, identify their
experiences and how their students think so that they can to support them to become
part of their new world. Getting to that place, a place where the teacher feels
empowered to take on this task becomes a focal point for teacher education
programs.  This isn’t always the case as serious
concerns have been voiced about teachers’ readiness to meet these new
realities.  In that teachers need to work
effectively with linguistically and culturally diverse learners, including elements
that promote intercultural sensitivity, multicultural efficacy and
multilingualism as a fundamental components of teacher education programs takes
on added value.

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Tertiary teacher education programs take into
consideration how well their graduates are being prepared (Cochran-Smith et al,
2004; Spinthourakis, 2007). An acute issue for teacher education graduates
since in many cases, they appear to want more focused professional development
to address the needs of the changing societal realties (Lynch & Hanson,
1993; Zeichner 1994; Spinthourakis & Katsillis, 2003). As the diversity of
the classroom has increased, instructional practices to address diversity have
often remained unchanged. Here tertiary teacher education has a role to play.

In many cases their concerns have to do with their
readiness in terms of their training prepared them.  There seems to be growing consensus on inadequate
preparation of teachers of linguistically and culturally diverse students (Eres,
2016; Futrell, Gomez, & Bedden, 2003; Spinthourakis & Katsillis, 2003;
Cochcran-Smith, 2000). Existing ideologies and pedagogies have been seem as
inadequately preparing teachers for diversity (Ladson-Billings, 2000; Vavrus,
2002). There has been criticism of higher education institutions that while
appearing to accept that they are charged with future teacher preparation to
address linguistically and culturally different students, they instead execute policies
that due the opposite.  They do this by
placing preservice teachers in situations that promote assimilation where the climate
of existing school cultures by default maintains the status quo (Ukpokodu 2007,
9; le Roux & Möller, 2002). In this way, the multicultural is transformed
into a superficial, fragmentary, and poor add-on to a monocultural curriculum
(le Roux & Möller, 2002, p. 184).

University teacher education programs have implemented
intercultural and/or multicultural preservice training programs, along with
longer established foreign language learning programs.  According to Gibson (2004) these programs
tend to be directed at:

1) ensuring cultural knowledge of different groups;

2) addressing the beliefs and attitudes of pre-service
teachers and,

3) training in cultural- relevant pedagogical skills.


The literature also underscores the fact that preservice
teachers need to learn how to analyze their beliefs and attitudes on cultural
differences.  Furthermore, that they need
to be able to do so through guided introspection as well as to be taught to
become change agents with skills that include critical self-analysis,
self-reflection, and understanding culture (Gay & Kirkland, 2005). As a result,
tertiary education has seen an increase of courses related to multiculturalism,
identity and diversity. It’s been suggested that infusion teacher training
courses strategies, tend to result in superficial treatment of weighty and complex
issues. Specific courses on teaching for social justice can provide
opportunities for preservice teachers to engage in in-depth exploration of
issues and practices of access, integration, responsive curricular and teaching
practices and discriminatory policies. Such courses will also focus on helping
preservice teachers develop habits of critical reflection and inquiry into access,
equity, and social justice issues (ibid).