Necessary Conditions for Educational Equity

I did some research on educational equity and I found this NREL document that depicts the six components to obtain Educational Equity.  They are:

                                   Access
                                   Instruction
                                   Materials
                                   Attitudes
                                   Interactions
                                    Language
                                    Assessment

These are all things that we need to offer to our students.  Beginning with access, all students must have equal opportunities to engage in the same educational activities and use the same tools as everyone else. Failure to do so will resort in one student receiving an unfair advantage over the other.

Instruction should be developed around more collaborative learning activities that deal with social issues and global problems.  I know that may be a challenging task in some disciplines (How will Math solve the issue of famine in third world countries?), but we have to at least make an attempt to do so.  In our attempt to provide these equitalbe opportunities, we have to bear in mind different cultural groups and keep them in the positive light.  Failure to do so could result in a bad perception of how the world views and lead to stereotyping.

The materials we provide our students to work with help provide supplemental instruction to what we are teaching them in the classroom.  Too often we like to use textbooks in our classrooms, but should we limit our instruction to just that?  The more diverse we are with our selection of materials, the more liekly we are to broaden our students horizons and provide equity among them.

The attitudes that students bring about different aspects of society and life come from past discussions in other classrooms and at home.  What one student has been brought up to believe over their entire lives is something that is very hard to change, if in fact it is the wrong perception.  Bias and prejudice is too dangerous to just let slip by us.  Issues like gender inequality and racism if left untackled could lead to further problems in a student’s life.  What we can do as teachers is provide a better perspective of what our society is like.  How do we do that, you say?  It depends.  You know your classroom better than anyone else does.  You know what issues students bring in every day.  Take it one step at a time and create activities that address them.  I have learned in the past that discussion leads to enlightenment for students.  While, this may not work with all groups of students, it does provide some opportunity for change to occur.

The interactions we have with students on a daily basis could be a key determinant in providing equity with our students.  The smallest discussion we have with students could give off the wrong perception of them, if we’re not careful.  Taking an interest in their lives makes all the difference in the world, if even its only 5 minutes.  This is something most of you probably already know and I hate to sound redundant, but it’s the truth. 

In the language we use in our instruction can get off the wrong idea of how the world is set up.  Using terms like “non-White” could set up the world as only two categories and no more.  I like the strategy of taking the opportunity to point out biased language.  This helps develop your student’s critical thinking skills and at the same time educaate them on the inequities of our society and its views of how to describe other people.

Sometimes we don’t think about some of the possible equity we are creating with our discussion.  We all make mistakes.  I am guilty of that myself.  I am striving to make some changes to my instruction to provide the best possible education for my students.  If I fall in the process, I’ll pick myself up, examine what I did wrong, and work to fix those mistakes. 

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One Response to “Necessary Conditions for Educational Equity”

  1. I would say that the largest gap in educational equity would fall in the attitudes and interactions categories. We have all seen teachers that have terrible attitudes and put forth little effort to interact with students in a healthy, nurturing way. I think that no matter what kind of job you have, when you begin doing that job poorly it is time to move on to something else. There are a lot of teachers that are biding time until retirement. Not good.


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