Diversity is the great individualizer. It is what makes us uniquely us. It is all the minute ways in which we vary from those around us. Many people see diversity as that which makes our population group obviously othered from other populations – things like race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and physical characteristics. I believe however that diversity is much more than overt characteristics of otherness. Any trait which can be used by an individual to define their personal identity is a potential element of diversity from academic abilities to hobbies to personality traits and mental conditions.
As a tutor I worked very closely with a student to overcome the issues preventing him from learning in a normal classroom setting and found ways in which to relate his academic work to his life experiences so that it would make more sense. Through intensive tutoring in multiple subjects including English, writing composition, history, and math (basic through algebra) I helped the student to overcome his difficulties learning in a normal classroom environment which resulted from a mental health condition. I devised new ways to explain concepts based on the student’s interests, skills, and real life experiences and found ways to explain the coursework to make it relevant to his life in order to build interest in the coursework and motivate the student to complete his assignments.
Individual students learn differently and have different academic needs. I believe that my job as an education professional is to find ways to accommodate as many different learning styles as I can and to attempt to break through as many barriers to active learning as possible. The most important part of education is to teach students how to use aspects of their diversity to their advantage and how to overcome potential stumbling blocks to success caused by other elements of their diversity. I believe in community based learning where students can work together to enhance and supplement each other’s skill sets so that they may come to appreciate the benefits of diversity in their academic relationships.