The U.S. Department of the Interior, describes the term "diversity" is used broadly to refer to many demographic variables, including, but not limited to, race, religion, color, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, age, education, geographic origin, and skill characteristics. America's diversity has given this country its unique strength, resilience and richness. (doi.gov)
Diversity comes in many different aspects. Achievement gaps have been identified with respect to race and ethnicity, but also regarding gender, socioeconomic status, learning differences, disability, and limited English language ability. The key to remember is that teachers should believe that all students can learn, and they must also “promote excellence and innovation in science teaching for all.” (NSTA)
Teachers and all stakeholders in the students’ academic career must believe that all students can learn equally. The climate of our classroom and the teaching strategies we employ must provide an equitable opportunity for all students. In doing so, we must “value and respect the experiences that students bring from their background, articulate students’ background knowledge with disciplinary knowledge, and offer sufficient school resources to support student learning.
In order to do so, we must shed light on diversity. In the effort to do so, we must be aware that a disconnection can occur between a students’ home and school life. “Effective teachers understand how disconnections may vary among different student groups, as well as how to capitalize on connections. These teachers bridge diverse students’ background knowledge and experiences to scientific knowledge and practices.” (NSTA)
To articulate a students’ background experiences with that of the discipline of science, it is very key to utilize a students’ own knowledge bank. A students’ knowledge bank is their knowledge and cultural experiences and skills that have been developed over time by interactions with family, and their community. “Effective teachers ask questions that elicit student’s funds of knowledge related science topics. They also use culture artifacts and community resources in ways that are academically meaningful and culturally relevant.” (NSTA)
Teachers need the support of their school system in order to provide an equitable learning experience for all students. Schools systems should have readily available school resources that aide in supporting student learning. Some examples of effective resources are material resources, human capital, and social capital. These resources have a deep impact on the opportunity for learning multi- cultural students. Unfortunately in schools where these students are the minority these resources are scarce, and may be offered in some curriculum areas and not others.
According to the National Research Council “scientific inquiry is the core of science teaching and learning, and is students acquire knowledge and form an understanding of...