It’s an oft-quoted phrase in the US.
“You don’t want people who are going to learn differently from you.
You don’t have to be a person of color,” says Dr. Andrew M. Srinivasan, professor of education at the University of Michigan.
But he cautions against relying too heavily on that mantra, because it can backfire.
“We don’t know how to get our students to be able to learn from others,” says Srinivaan.
That’s because learning from others doesn’t necessarily mean having a diverse community.
“What you’re really asking them to do is to take a class that is very much in line with their own background and their own cultural experience,” says Professor Srinivans wife, Nita.
Nita says the key is to have a “very, very diverse learning space” that is “not exclusive to white people.”
That means creating a community where everyone can learn and that everyone feels welcome and can feel valued.
Nisa Srinivista, a graduate student in education, says this “isn’t a new concept.”
She’s working with a local school district on an equity plan that would give all students the same opportunities and opportunities.
She says there are many things that can be done to ensure students feel included, including providing them with resources that they need.
But she says these sorts of initiatives don’t always translate into positive outcomes.
“They may be helpful for a minority group, but for all students they’re not going to really help,” she says.
Nissa Srinivisma, who teaches English at the university, says diversity is not always a virtue.
She’s also working on a curriculum for a college that aims to build “a world-class learning environment for all.”
Nita Srinistiva, who is the mother of two girls, says she’s frustrated with what she calls a culture of complacency.
She argues that people are afraid to admit their own biases, and they’re afraid of the backlash that comes from being labeled an “angry white woman.”
She says she believes that diversity is a way of life.
“I think that it’s important for people to come together, and to be together,” she explains.
“But I think that we need to look at ourselves as individuals and we need the community to be with us.”
For Nita, that means learning from people from different backgrounds and cultures.
“Because diversity is more than a social construct,” she stresses.
“It’s really, really important for everybody to be part of that.”
For the Srinives, that includes their daughters, who are now both in the United States.
For Nisa, it means that learning from the different perspectives and experiences of her daughters is what makes her the person she is today.
“As a parent of two daughters, it is my responsibility to take care of my daughters,” she adds.
“And I believe in that.
And I believe that I am strong, I believe I am smart, I do have the ability to make my daughters happy and I am proud to be an American.”
For more information on how to prepare for and integrate multicultural education, please visit the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization website.