DIVERSITY

Excerpts from The Skillful Teacher, Stephen D. Brookfield (1990).

The principal of diversity should be engraved on every teacher's heart. In evaluating a teacher's performance, or in judging the merit of an educational approach, one of the first things I look for is diversity. Are teachers using a range of teaching approaches? Do they use visual materials as well as relying on oral and written communication? Do they alternate opportunities for independent study with group collaboration? Do they mix lectures, discussions, role plays, and simulations? Do they allow for periods of reflective analysis?

Keeping diversity in the forefront serves two important functions. On the one hand, you stand a good chance of connecting to the preferred learning style of most of your students and some point in your teaching. At this point, they will feel comfortable with, and affirmed in, their learning. On the other hand, you will probably introduce most students in your classes to learning modes and orientations that are new to them. Their repertoire of learning styles will thus be enlarged, and they will be more likely to flourish in a greater range of settings outside the academy than would otherwise have been the case. " (p.69)

"Be particularly careful not to fall into habitual teaching patterns that grow out of your preferred learning style. For example, my own instinctive text dependence as a learner means that as a teacher I tend to underemphasize the use of visual aids and to forget the importance of depicting ideas graphically for students. By neglecting to do this I am severely hampering the learning of students who are visually attuned. Again, because I have a tendency to work independently on projects (I have never coauthored any of my published writings), I forget that many people much prefer working in teams and actually enjoy the interchange that sometimes seems an irritating waste of time to me. So I have to make a conscious effort to remind myself to curb my own tendency to hasten group processes that are inevitably time consuming." (p203)

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