By Paula Fallas Sánchez - Education Degree student
Maya Angelou once said, “in diversity there is beauty and there is strength” (BrainyQuote, n.d.). She said this while fighting racism daily on her journey to becoming the renowned poet we see her as today. We are now more connected to the world than ever before in history. Our classrooms are filled with students of all nationalities, races, ethnicities, languages, economical statuses, and sexualities. As teachers, we must build a safe space in our classrooms where students can learn to appreciate their own individual cultures and those of others. In that way, those students will never feel as if they have to earn their education, and we will educate a generation of students that is inclusive towards others, instead of stuck in simplemindedness.
According to the United Nations (1948), education is a universal right for all human beings. This right means that, regardless of whom the person is, everyone has the right to an education. However, it is not good enough to simply ‘let’ them attend class. No student should have to earn the opportunity to participate fairly in a class. Being in a classroom that does not allow the student to feel included greatly affects their ability to learn due feeling uncomfortable in the environment (NBACL, n.d.). Teachers do not get to choose who will be in their classrooms, but, regardless of who they are, an educator’s job is to teach them to the best of their abilities. By being more culturally inclusive in the classroom, the students will be able to learn from each other and from the teacher how to be respectful towards everyone (Walden University, n.d.). In fact, it is proven that maintaining an inclusive classroom where the students feel safe and open to share their culture with others helps them become more empathetic, confident, open-minded, understanding, and prepared for future workplace teamwork (Drexel University, n.d.). It is a teacher’s job to educate and prepare students for their future. Our world continues to become more globalized, and being intolerant and exclusive is not an option.
Those who may be opposed to classrooms being socially and culturally inclusive may fear students will forget or turn their backs on their own cultures and traditions. This takes the idea of inclusive classrooms and twists it. Inclusive classrooms are not pushing for cultural assimilation of any sort but cultural appreciation (USC, n.d.). Learning about other cultures does not mean turning your back or forgetting your own culture. In fact, an inclusive classroom will push to include all cultures that are present in the classroom, whether minorities or majorities. Every student will see their culture appreciated and respected, no one is excluded. Many times, seeing their culture be appreciated and included will make the student feel pride in their culture (NBACL, n.d.). If this is truly an inclusive classroom for everyone, then no student would forget their own culture.
In the past century the world has gradually become more globalized and the topic of diversity has risen with it. Classrooms today hold diversity of all kinds, from cultures to sexualities, to religions. As the world changes so must education, in order to teach in the most efficient way. Teachers must make it a priority to make sure that their students feel safe and included in their classrooms so that they are able to learn to their best abilities, and be respectful and inclusive towards others. As Maya Angelou said, “in diversity there is beauty and there is strength”.