Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
Over the past two and a half months, I have had the privilege of receiving exposure to many facts, stories and experiences related to diversity in and out of the classroom. I am now able to hold conversations that I may not have been able to engage in prior to taking this course because I have learned concepts necessary for me to feel more comfortable talking about diverse topics, such as disabilities, gender identities, individualism and religion, just to name a few.
During this course, I have been able to build on my already acquired knowledge about abilities and disabilities that I have gathered from previous courses and first-hand experiences. I have learned that perceptions rarely turn out to be accurate. It is very difficult to understand a person solely on their appearance since appearances can be deceiving. People should not make judgments about another individual purely based on how they outwardly portray themselves. A specific problem that the students with disabilities from Disability Support Services came and shared their insight on was invisible disabilities. What I found especially thought provoking was that people, including teachers, sometimes overlook individuals who have an invisible disability because they assume individuals are fully able since the disability may not be glaringly apparent at all times. This can have negative effects on individuals with invisible disabilities because they do not receive accommodations that they are able to utilize and be successful. With that in mind, I will try my hardest every day to avoid assuming that a person does not have a disability just because I cannot see one. As a teacher, I will be sure to provide all students with what they need to be successful.
I have been educated on gender identities. Prior to this course, I used to think that if an individual was not straight then they were either lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, but I have learned there are numerous other identities a person could have. A few of the newer identities I have become knowledgeable about include, but are not limited to, Queer, Intersex, Ally and Asexual. The explanations of these diverse terms were something that I was interested in learning about and I am glad they were a topic of discussion in this class. Now I have a better understanding of the importance of knowing the various identities and am able to use terms in the right context. After acquiring more details on the subject of gender identities, I can confidently say that when I am a teacher I will not tolerate name-calling, bullying or harassment of any kind in the classroom. Additionally, I can guarantee that I will address the use of inappropriate language promptly to ensure that the classroom remains a safe and positive environment for all students.
From Chuck D.’s speech, I took away the concept of being more in control of my life rather than following the boring, expected daily/life path society and the government has tried to create. Instead, I need to be independent, make my voice heard and rely less on materialistic objects. By making my own decisions and not relying on a trend or group of people’s opinions to dictate my decisions, I will build confidence and a stronger sense of individualism. Chuck D. said we should all speak up and share our intelligence and I completely agree. I see people who have not had this realization that I have, or maybe they have heard they need to change yet they do not feel the need take action yet. It makes me feel troubled when I see people, especially ones who are close to me, place higher importance on insignificant items instead of actual living and breathing people. For example, I was in need of help when an issue came up with my car but instead of choosing to stay and help me, my friend left to go pick up their new phone from the store. Personally, I believe that people should always come before temporary, materialistic belongings. I have already started to imply certain adjustments in my everyday life I hopes of improving the quality of it.
Most recently, we discussed the topic of religion. A specific question asked to the class was, “Is our education system secular?” I found that the meaning of secularism is the action of separating religion from school. Our class conversed about if we believed that our school systems do or do not truly practice secularism. An example that was given of an issue of secularism in schools is saying “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance because saying that schools are secular conflicts with the face they address religion every morning. With the given example still in mind, I feel that our schools are not neutral when it comes to religion being present in the school system. Continuing on the topic of religion, it is the teachers’ responsibility to ensure they are respecting students’ religions and students are respecting one another’s religions. In the classroom as a teacher, I will attend to any issues regarding religion, such as prejudice, that surface.
My knowledge about the numerous areas of a diverse society is continuing to grow every day. As I reflect on the past, I am thankful for taking this class and having the opportunity to learn about the topics covered thus far in class. In my everyday life, I will be able to imply the information I have learned with ease. I will evaluate my surroundings and not hesitate to help a student who may be in need while I am on campus and in my classes. Looking forward to the future, I think I am capable of being a more successful teacher thanks to this course. I am excited that there is more information yet to come and more experiences to share. Developing a more diverse mind is a goal I strive to achieve. I believe I can reach this goal by practicing self-reflection, being open-minded and asking meaningful questions.