Students today must learn how to interact in diverse environments and develop an understanding of different perspectives in order to thrive in our increasingly global community. Diversity enriches the exchange of ideas and helps to instill a sense of moral responsibility.
We had the opportunity to chat with Marcus Chang, director of diversity and community life at The Bishop’s School an independent college preparatory school for grades 6-12 in La Jolla, California.
As the Director of Diversity and Community Life, what are you focused on?
Population projections indicate that the U.S. population will be considerably older and more racially and ethnically diverse by 2060. As such, it’s important that we bring the community together to honor and educate each other about who we are – to recognize and celebrate our differences.
We each come from a different place, and we each have a story and a form of diversity that we can bring to the table. When we do, we’re better off as a community.
How does diversity affect student learning?
We live in a connected age and students come into contact with a wide and diverse range of people. An understanding and appreciation of diversity has proven to enhance learning by helping students explore different angles, think more critically, and come up with new options.
How do you view diversity?
At The Bishop’s School, we look at the Big Eight of diversity: race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, and socio-economic status.
Exposing students to different perspectives allows them to think differently. We don’t want our students “living in a bubble” when life may be very different on the “outside.” The world today is ever changing and the skills they learn – diversity, empathy, critical thinking – will be of value the rest of their lives.
Diversity also includes different learning styles. As teachers, we need to be culturally competent. Understand who your students are. Your students may have different abilities or come from different cultures, so recognize that they may learn in different ways.
Do you have a classroom tip you’d like to share with other teachers?
Get to know your kids – understand where they’re coming from, establish a common language and empower them to talk about things they want to learn about. As teachers, we should always be learning (oftentimes, I’m learning from one of my students!).
What would you be doing if you weren’t in your current role today?
I’ve always thought about being a fireman, since life is about making a difference in the world, about helping someone else.