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Cultural Diversity in the Classroom

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What does it mean to be culturally diverse? According to the Oxford dictionary, cultural diversity is defined as “The existence of a variety of cultural or ethnic groups within a society.” What is your religion? What is your ethnic identity? Would you like to travel? What language do you speak? What is your culture? Why is cultural diversity so important? Cultural diversity is what keeps society evolving. A statistic has been shown in an article in CQR Press that indicated “The nation’s 75 million Millennials, those between the ages 18 to 34 years old are the largest generation in the United States. Millennials are also the most diverse generation in American history.” (Hoag 649) An essential factor of this great nation evolving is solely based on cultural diversity in many aspects. This statement is being made for three reasons: 1) technology, science, and education; 2) ethnic foods and holidays, and 3) music and fashion.

Education has evolved in many ways because we learn from one another. For example, major technological contributions came from China, early seismological detectors were invented which are machines to track earthquakes. Roman engineers were the first to build monumental arches, aqueducts, public baths, true arch bridges, dams, vaults, and domes. The British Industrial Revolution is characterized by developments in the areas of textile machinery, mining, and transport the steam engine, and the invention of machine tools. If it was not for Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who was a German chemist that discovered oxygen the periodic table and chemistry as we know it, would not be the same. The first description of the function of pulmonary circulation came from a gentleman in Egypt in the year 1924 by a man Ibn-Al-Nafis. Galileo Galilei who was from Italy shaped astronomy as we know it today, it would never reach the level of advancement it currently has reached due to his many years of research. If there is no cultural diversity in the classroom it is similar to keeping the students stationary. One must cross-cultural borders for him or her to advance. Teaching diversity prepares students to be global citizens by exposing them to people from different cultures and social groups. Performing differences in educational practices assists each student to be unique in his/her own perspective and do not make one feel as if his/her cultural identity is being stolen. Three examples from the article The Value of Cultural Diversity narrows down what cultural diversity in a classroom really represents, “First, classroom diversity promotes student growth and reflection. Second, diverse classrooms play an essential role in career preparation. Finally, diversity prepares students for citizenship.” (James) The students today are the future of tomorrow and society will need to advance and the only way to do that is to be open-minded and willing to learn from others. “Beyond technology demographic changes are transforming our society.” (Adler, R. B.)

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Reaching further than education and technology, we’ve also learned to expand our taste buds and celebrations. On an individual level, we grow up eating the food of our cultures. Individuals in society connect to their cultural or ethnic group through similar food patterns. These food patterns tend to be passed down generation through generation. According to an article in Wiley Online Library, “ a dramatic increase in the demand for ethnic foods in the United States has been observed. As immigration, tourism, and international trade have increased worldwide, the role of ethnicity has become more important not only in business and consumer behavior but also in food culture and the food industry.” (Lee, J. H.) Food is a universal language, humans may not all speak the same language; therefore, as mammals, food is a necessity. Food brings people together because we can share our culture and heritage. Coming together and sharing a meal is the most communal and binding thing in almost every place in the world. According to The Well Essentials article on definition of “Food, culture refers to the practices, attitudes, and beliefs as well as the networks and institutions surrounding the production, distribution, and consumption of food. That’s a mouth full, food culture is the connection, beliefs, and experiences we have with food and our food system. It incorporates our cultural heritage and ethnicity, but is not limited to it.” (Faletra, M) Cultural heritage and ethnicity come in many shapes and forms not only within food but also within celebrations. Our cultural diversity in celebration helps unite and broaden our own perspectives. The world is so rich with diversity, which also indicates that our calendars are too. For example, January 6 is Christmas for Armenian Orthodox Christians. December 25 is Christmas Day, the day that many Christians associate with Jesus’ birth. March 6, is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in the Christian faith. April is Celebrate Diversity Month, started in 2004 to recognize and honor the diversity surrounding us all. April 8, is Buddha Day, which is a Buddhist festival that marks Gautama Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death. October 14, is Canadian Thanksgiving. November 28, is Thanksgiving in the United States. All of these examples show that one may observe a pattern of celebrations for what is important to society. Societies are culturally different; however, humans tend to have the same characteristics in the aspect of traditions. Celebrating what is important to them.

Education, food, and holidays are three phenomenal life-changing experiences society would not have if it was not for the cultural diversity throughout the world. Last I’d like to call attention to the talent industry such as acting and music, also the fashion industry. The ethnic inclusiveness in an article “Diversity in Hollywood” former President Obama weighed in, saying, “As a whole, the industry should do what every other industry should do, which is to look for talent and provide an opportunity to everybody.”(Hoag, C) Thus, indicating cultural diversity throughout industries such as actors who appear on television or musicians that use a tune that one would familiarize as a tune in a Spanish song or one singing to something similar to a Jamaican accent. Not singling one person or culture out. Cultural diversity is what keeps an industry accelerating. Music played a significant role in history, humans have been making music for as long as they’ve been on Earth. Breathing, walking and clapping. Society music preferences are always changing; however, one thing will always remain which is ultimate, music is the expression of culture. Different parts of the world have their own cultural tune. Music is an expressive language of culture and may also reflect cultural characteristics in a society. Most often music tells a story, a lesson, or can be a form of celebration. Music may be used as a direct interpretation of society. Paris is the number one fashion industry in the world. Talk about cultural diversity most of the trends of the world on clothing and accessories come from Pairs. They are the Fashion capital that means to assume a leadership role in clothing and accessorizing.

It’s quite marvelous that all ethnic groups can join together to educate, eat, celebrate, and bring amazing talent and ideas because no matter where we come from, what language we speak, what religion we are, one thing we will always have in common is that we are human. We all are made from flesh and bone. Cultural diversity can be found all over the world. Humans all live this mysterious thing we call life and are all just trying to figure it out together. Humans as a species evolve because of our different interests and imaginations. We all are unique in our own perspective which benefits society. If it was not for cultural diversity then our educational system would not be as active as it is today. Our science and technology would not advance without the discoveries and input of others. Our community restaurants would not be as delicious and have much of a variety of foods. Society would not have an insight into why cultures do things on certain days for certain reasons. There would be no knowledge and only chaos. Talent and fashion indicate how a culture chooses to express itself. Making cultural diversity work is what makes America thrive in all aspects.    

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