Reflection Paper on Deconstructing Diversity Discourses Educational Management and Leadership

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Sewanee University of the South
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Critical thinking
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Blackmore, (2006) aims to provide a framework that allows for the investigation of the intersections and divergences of discourses of diversity in educational settings and the practicability of such diversity. The author starts off by noting that discourses in diversity arose during the 1900s to replace the notions of equality in private and public sectors in many Western jurisdictions. Contemporary thinking associated with the emergence of discourse in pedagogy mandates the teachers, administrators, and leaders to ensure their clients are well represented in terms of race, gender, religious denominations, and culture (Anderson & Mungal, 2015). She cites the example the impact of the discourse diversity in the Australian community where English is a second language since for the majority of the population, up to 24 languages are spoken at home, including several Aboriginal dialects. The diversity in the school society has promoted not only the elimination of various forms of discrimination, but also the appreciation of the value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures to the Australian society (Blackmore, 2006, p. 182).

However, the author asserts that despite the progressive inclusion sought by the concept of diversity in schools, the practice has been directed towards educational policy and practice in institutions and their management hence it tends to delimit the aforementioned mandate of ensuring inclusive and equitable access to schools. Therefore, diversity has shifted from assuring specific social, economic, and cultural needs to a more market oriented and managerialistic type of schooling that inherently impacts negatively on equitable access to schools.

To address the challenges that arise from the new perception of diversity in pedagogy, and provide an exploratory framework for the shift from equal opportunity to diversity based on reforms that promote new managerialistic and market orientation in educational institutes, the author starts by identifying the two types of diversity that sprang up when the concept first appeared. The author identifies one of the branches of diversity as corporate diversity as also described by (Bowl, 2016). Groutsis & OLearty (2016) also note that due to the capitalization on diversity, culturally and linguistically diverse talent in Australia has been largely rejected a statement that supports Blackmores assertion. Blackmore (2006) also refers to it as capitalizing on diversity (Blackmore, 2006, p. 184) and notes that it predominantly lends itself to facilitating the delivery of services by ensuring the clients individual needs are met while applying cultural and linguistic diversity so as to gain new markets. The second branch of diversity, transformative diversity is driven by resurgence in the knowledge of political and educational aspirations in diverse social and linguistic groups. The resurgence has seen more social groups seeking inclusive education who seek inclusivity on the basis of cultural and linguistic recognition as opposed to socioeconomic fairings of these groups. The author concludes that outcomes from both discourses in diversity cannot be predictable since they have the capacity to have positive and negative effects on inclusion.

On the articulation of diversity in education, it was the assertion of the author that the education sector has largely tried to adopt a stance of managing diversity as its main discourse. The stance resulted in policy formulations that required diversity to be central in the affairs of public institutions such as education. The net result was that a managerialist approach was adopted towards the administration and representation of schools. There were gender audits to investigate diversity (Blackmore, 2016), while equity principles were institutionalized in the education system that affected the appointments, promotions and other administrative tasks (Blackmore, 2013). Such audits were heavily influenced by feminism at the time as supported by Wallin, (2014). However, the discourse of managing diversity was hijacked by managerialist diversity, and as of today, while equal representation is still central to the discourse, it is heavily impacted on by the need to meet client demands, a fact that is also observed by (Knoppers et al., 2015). As such, the author notes that outcomes of the discourse, such as women being heavily concentrated in middle management in public schools, are placing diversity at risk as currently observed by Gomez-Hurtado, (2016). The outcome is unfavorable for diversity in the sense that the desire to meet the clients specific needs has led to a culture of the schools performance becoming central to attracting clients, which then deems diversity as an attractive quality. Diversity has since then become a personal preference, as opposed to earlier times when it was social demand. Therefore, the current stance of the various discourses in diversity does not require schools to observe inclusion in their curriculum. Schools are not observant of linguistic, racial, or cultural diversity within their communities (Blackmore, 2006, p. 188).

Reflection

In confirming with the Blackmores view on the discourse of diversity and its lack of promotion of equity and inclusion, I have observed that the Australian pedagogy system continuously places the needs of the students before the requirement to assure inclusivity. The higher education system, for instance, features predominantly the need to deliver a curriculum that places the job market needs ahead of inclusivity (Forrest et al., 2016). The lack of diversity is further reflected in the educational setting as I have noted that it is increasingly hard to observe activities from different cultures within my school. For instance, the Aboriginal cultures are distinctively missing from my schools list of cultural activities, and one would not expect this as a culture, the Australian jurisdiction takes great interest in them. This fact was noted by (Phillip & Luke, 2017). Additionally, there is also the fact that the schools administration is not demonstrative of gender equity as most of the staff are predominantly male. This has been an issue according to (Weldon, 2015) who noted that subjects such as IT and computing, physics, and mathematics, as well as their respective departments, are still predominantly dominated by male teachers. Fincher also noted that in Australian communities where males have traditionally held paid positions also impacted on the demographic of schools with these communities supplying less teaching staff and hence impacting on diversity.

The article has greatly shifted to focus on what it means to observe diversity in various settings. Traditionally, I thought of diversity as a concept that required equal and inclusive representation. However, after reading about the various discourses of diversity offered by Blackmore (2006), I have come to understand that while it is possible to practice diversity on the surface, there is a distinct possibility that the elements that define diversity can be omitted. For instance, while one can see that the management of a school has diversity based on gender and cultural implications, the same diversity can be missing if the one gender is predominantly concentrated in certain levels of administration as cited by Wilkinson & Eacott, (2013). I, therefore, find that I have to consider my approach on how I view and interpret diversity since there are several forms of the concept that can have different outcomes.

Application of Reason

The concept of diversity as presented by the author demands one to scrutinize how various elements associated with the concept are practiced. That is, one must understand the guiding principles behind the diversity, and the key influencers to determine how and why the diversity is being practiced. Neo-liberalism for instance practices diversity from the perspective that diversity is a predominant factor that affects the ability of an educational institute to meet the needs of its clients. Proponents of this school of thought hold that in order to deliver an effective curriculum, it is imperative that the pedagogy institution allows for diversity within its boundaries. On the other hand, managerialism practices diversity from the stance that it is a personal preference. Parents and learners who feel that they will benefit from diversity can choose a diverse school setting. However, those who feel that diversity is unattractive are allowed to choose a setting that is largely homogenous or mosaic in cultural, ethnic, or religious terms.

Reconstruction

After reading the article, I realized that while I have come to view the educational institute as a diverse ecology, I was largely mistaken. I was superficial in my interpretation of diversity as my views were influenced by physical attributes such observing different racial, gender, and religious representations. I failed to take into account the fact that in the educational setting, even when diversity seems to be in play, there are elements that were missing, such as certain genders being restricted to certain roles (Evans & Davies, 2014). In my teaching practice, I feel that I should ensure true diversity by first engaging my learners to partake in all activities in and around school irrespective of their race, culture, or gender as suggested in the works of Evans & Davies, (2017). I also feel that I should prevail on my colleagues to do the same and allow all people equitable access to resources, and encourage every to participate in leadership positions as suggested by Krieg, (2014). References

Anderson, G., & Mungal, A. S. (2015). Discourse analysis and the study of educational leadership. International Journal of Educational Management, 29(7), 807-818.

Blackmore, J. (2013). Within/against: Feminist theory as praxis in higher education research. In Theory and method in higher education research (pp. 175-198). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Blackmore, J. (2013). Forever Troubling. In Leaders in Gender and Education (pp. 15-31). SensePublishers.Bowl, M. (2016). Differentiation, distinction and equalityor diversity? The language of the marketised university: an England, New Zealand comparison. Studies in Higher Education, 1-18.

Evans, J., & Davies, B. (2017). In pursuit of equity and inclusion: populism, politics and the future of educational research in physical education, health and sport. Sport, Education and Society, 1-9.

Evans, J., & Davies, B. (2014). Physical education PLC: Neoliberalism, curriculum and governance. New directions for PESP research. Sport, Education and Society, 19(7), 869-884.

Fincher, R. (2014). Class and gender relations in the local labor market and the local state. The Power of Geography (RLE Social & Cultural Geography): How Territory Shapes Social Life, 93.

Forrest, J., Lean, G., & Dunn, K. (2016). Challenging racism through schools: teacher attitudes to cultural diversity and multicultural education in Sydney, Australia. Race Ethnicity and Education, 19(3), 618-638.

Gomez-Hurtado, I., Gonzalez-Falcon, I., & Coronel, J. M. (2016). Perceptions of secondary school principals on management of cultural diversity in Spain. The challenge of educational leadership. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 1741143216670651.

Groutsis, D., OLeary, J., & Russell, G. (2016). Capitalizing on the cultural and linguistic diversity of mobile talent: lessons from an Australian study. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 1-22.

Knoppers, A., Claringbould, I., & Dortants, M. (2015). Discursive managerial practices of diversity and...

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