Friday, October 21, 2011

Celebrate Diversity! How do we do that?

Education, particularly public education, is such an exhausting undertaking that often we find educators distracting themselves from substantial problems, such as low grades, student absence, funding programs, maintaining buildings, or replacing classroom equipment, by an obsessive focus on vaguely formulated questions:
Should schools celebrate diversity? (Never mind what this question boils down to in practical terms: we need entertainment.)

Should schools prepare children for the mainstream? (Again, don't bother us with critical analyses - we need simplicity.)

Formulated as a controversy, the question makes the distraction from bottom-line hard issues even more “recreational”: should the schools celebrate diversity or prepare students for the mainstream? Instead of evaluating costs and benefits, assessing risks and dealing with a reality of shades of gray in which today's allies may be tomorrow's adversaries, we want black-and-white - or at least starkly multicolored - choices.

To examine this issue further, see Celebrating Diversity vs. Preparing for the Mainstream: a Pseudo-Controversy?