Diversity: Gatekeeping Knowledge and Maintaining Inequalities

Jun. 25, 2009

Source: Review of Educational Research Vol. 79, Iss. 2; pg. 1044-1083, (June 2009).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Diversity is a highly popular and oft-used term and concept in K-12 and higher education. This literature review examines the dominant discourse on diversity-a discourse that positions difference as deficit. Although traditional schooling has been resistant to system-wide change, this review will also consider research showing teachers as well positioned to make emancipatory choices-critically engaging in and demonstrating values and classroom practices that can counteract the limited knowledge and normative practices so common in schools today.

Key Differences between the Diversity and Emancipatory Models

This review illuminates key differences between the diversity model and emancipatory model in education. It discusses a range of conceptual, theoretical, empirical, historical, pedagogical, and legal scholarship. The body of work examined includes five categories of representative scholarship, addressing (a) worldview and historical origins of these education models, (b) the Black studies intellectual tradition, (c) diversity and the law, (d) dominant diversity discourse in education, and (e) emancipatory practices that rethink or replace hegemonic diversity. This review is organized into five sections, one for each category of scholarship.

This review concludes with a discussion of an emancipatory model of education that educators can build on as part of a paradigm shift grounded in the Black Studies intellectual tradition. This model represents an alternative to the hierarchy of human worth embedded in the predominant conception of diversity. By moving past the constraints of traditional schooling, emancipatory educators can affirm the collective humanity of all students-teachers-families and the cultures and groups they represent.

Updated: Jul. 02, 2009