Kerry Hart: The ethics of diversity

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Kerry Hart

— Segregation in the educational setting may be alive and well in very subtle forms - notwithstanding the rhetoric we espouse for the advocacy of diversity. Arguably, understanding and appreciating diversity is one of the most important character traits that we can teach our children as the cornerstone of serving humanity.

It is a trait that can and should be nurtured whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself. However, in the larger scheme of things, we may inadvertently inhibit those rich opportunities that would help children develop this vital part of their character.

When children are grouped by ability in the classroom, the high achievers and those with capacity for certain academic disciplines learn that academic achievement and developing a competitive edge is more important than serving those who are less fortunate. The children who are placed in the slow group also learn an important lesson about their self-worth and their station in the academic world.

On a larger scale, we teach our children about how we value diversity when we choose the schools our children attend. For example, if we choose to shelter our children from other children who come from different race, ethnic, or socio-economic backgrounds by placing them in a homogenous private academic environment, we teach an important lesson about how we prioritize the value of diversity.

There are always varying circumstances for the choices we make for our children; however, our intent for the choices we make is what our children understand and learn as values.

Indeed, one of the most profound examples I have seen of parents teaching the value of diversity was by actually pulling their children out of the public school system. They replaced the public school environment with home-schooling while sailing around the world in order to give their children first-hand experiences with places and people around the globe. The children who were home-schooled in this context had a once-in-a-lifetime educational experience that, arguably, could not be replicated in a traditional classroom.

If we believe that a valuable educational learning experience is knowing how to build relationships and get along with people from all walks of life, then we need to be willing to make some sacrifices and concessions in order to help our children appreciate and get along in an environment that more realistically reflects the world they will need to function in as adults.

In the final analysis, academic knowledge and skills will balance out so that students acquire the knowledge and technical skills to be productive contributors in the workplace. But developing human relation skills for a global society is something that must continually be fostered from the early stages of life. We can't afford to risk sacrificing this important life-skill when we have the opportunity to make choices.

Kerry Hart is dean of the Colorado Mountain College Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs.

Comments

id04sp 7 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, well, this is all well and good until you examine various cultures around the world where innovation and invention are not valued.

If we were all content to live in an agrarian society and spend our entire lives within 50 miles of our birthplace, all this touchy-feely value stuff would be just fine. If you value things like a Boeing 747 and HDTV, it's going to take people with strong scientific and mathematical skills to produce them, and dumbing down the general population so that nobody gets left out will result in technological stagnation. Who's the better doctor, by the way? The guy who makes you feel good, or the guy who makes you well? I'll take WELL!

CMC is a perfect place for this fellow's philosophy. Which category is more prevalent up there, slackers, or losers? Or it is just about a tie?

Why spend thousands of taxpayer's dollars on a school that merely delays the entry of the students into the pool of cooks, bartenders and waiters found in Colorado resort towns?

The most important "life skill" is "job skills." I'd discuss ethics with you as an important adjunct to "job skills" if CMC wasn't so well known for substance abuse. There's nothing ethical about breaking the law, even if it does feel good.

I think the "life skill" of facing reality and learning to take care of yourself at an early age is the most important thing a kid can learn.

Our current educational system fails by not accounting for differences in maturity and intellectual development in the assignment of students to particular categories, like second grade, third grade, etc. Some kids take longer to learn a subject than others, and a slow learner in math is not necessarily dumb, but may just need more time and attention to master the subject. The way to not let kids fail is to hold them at each level until they master the required skills, and then let them move ahead. Some would graduate from high school at age 14, and some at age 20, but that would be okay in the long run. We need to acknowledge individual differences and do what's necessary to allow each student to succeed. The problem, of course, is that our educators didn't set it up that way. I think it's because they're not smart enough, and that's the biggest problem with American education . . . educators who couldn't compete successfully in the job market if they had to go head-to-head with people who must produce to feed the bottom line in business.

So, yeah, there's a better way to do it, but it will never be improved if we leave it to the educators.

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id04sp 7 years, 1 month ago

One of them is, fishy, and so was I. Mine is dyslexia. It was not diagnosed until I was old enough to develop astigmatism sufficient to cause me to fail a depth-perception test. It sorta explains why somebody with my intelligence had trouble in math class; hard to learn stuff when it don't look the same way twice, ya know?

My step son has ADHD like they write about; I could show the journal articles on him. But guess what? Turning off the TV set and confiscating the X-Box controllers has brought his grade in Algebra and Trig from an F to a B+ so far this term. He doesn't like me for taking away "Family Guy" and "The Simpsons" and especially WWE and WWF, but I told him I don't care and that if the grades don't stay up, the TV comes out of his room completely. Seems to be working fine.

People can either make up excuses and rationalize their failures, or they can work as hard as possible and make the best of it.

What's ethical about an educational system that takes money for teaching our kids and then really doesn't identify and help the individuals that need extra help. They just pass the kids along and let them flounder.

The educational system is good for maybe 25% of the population. The other 75% need something else (either more challenging, or less challenging). What's ethical about maintaining the status quo just because it's always been done that way?

By the way, the crooks you describe in your rant didn't get to be that way because they went to school. Evil is a talent that we fail to recognize and deal with, letting it go in the name of "diversity" and "individualism."

When I say "job skills," I mean skills that will allow a person to feed a family. Plumbers. Electricians. Accountants. Doctors. Etc. Something where you either need a license or a degree to qualify for the job. Anything else is just "self improvement," or, "a waste of time for people who have time to waste."

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Troutscout 7 years, 1 month ago

As a businessman I want to let you know that I was responsible for teaching the engineers, artists, and the doctors who make me "well". I taught them to read, write, reason, and create. No, wait a second. I didn't have time to teach them. I was to busy lining my pockets and getting wealthy. They must have been born knowing everything. Certainly they never attended a school of any kind. Maybe they attended a business school. Yes, they must have all attended business school. How could that have helped them? Aren't there educators in business schools?

I need to get back to the basics of business. Price fixing, gouging, stealing pension funds, monopolozing, creating false petroleum shortages, artificial energy shortages, sub-prime loans so I can walk off with a 180 million dollar golden parachute, government bail outs to save my poorly managed auto manufacturing business, substities to prop up my milk prices, tax dollars to promote my downtown business, tax dollars to build a rec center to bring more customers to my business. A City Council to find more ways spend tax dollars to promote business, poverty wages for my employees. Illegal labor to increase my profits. Open borders for cheap labor to increase my profits. Horray for Enron, Texas Savings and Loans, Quest CEOs, BP propane price fixing, devil take the hind-most, full speed ahead, business , business, busniess. Kenneth Laye, he's our man, if he can't do it, business can.

I wish all of your children to be learning disabled so you can feel a part of the suffering they feel. Bless Darwin, let them compete, die, or become cooks. Natural selection will sort them all out.

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