Sep 172003
 
Authors: Amy Bergstrom

Diversity can be a sensitive issue and can often spawn intense discussion and debate.

Teachers must not only participate in the debate; they also must be able to teach on diversity topics.

In a new book CSU faculty members address the complicated question of “how?” “Teaching Diversity: Challenges and Complexities, Identities and Integrity,” edited by William Timpson, Silvia Sara Canette, Evelinn Borrayo and Raymond Yang, explores different diversity issues using contributions from 19 faculty members.

“We wrote this book for instructors,” said Timpson, a professor in education and director of the Center for Teaching and Learning. “But it’s also for anyone who is dealing with issues of diversity.”

While the book is directed at instructors, Timpson said that he thinks every student on campus has had a class in which they have had to deal with diversity issues and therefore could benefit from reading the book, which was released last spring and is available on Amazon.com.

The contributors of the book tackle the idea of creating a safe environment for people to speak about their experiences and beliefs.

“It’s one thing to bare your soul,” Timpson said. “It’s another to do that in an environment that’s accepting.”

The issues in the book are often deeply personal, using life experiences by the authors to carry their messages. In her chapter “Reaching the Congregation, Not Just the Choir: Conquering Resistance to Diversity Issues,” Val Middleton, an assistant professor in education, uses her own church experiences to understand how diversity messages reach the potential teachers she addresses.

“I left church that day reflecting on ways to improve the delivery of my ‘message’ and methods for helping my pre-service teachers as they struggle with issues of diversity,” Middleton wrote.

Contributors to the books share their personal experiences to show the success of the various methods of teaching diversity. Several contributors also share their experiences dealing with being members of minority groups.

In Eric Aoki’s chapter, “Making Space in the Classroom for My Gay Identity: A Letter I’ve Been Wanting to Write,” Aoki, an assistant professor in speech communication, addresses how important support from fellow faculty was in coming out to his classes.

“With your commitment to diversity in the workplace, Ann, I believe my loyalty to my students and my job has been able to shine,” Aoki wrote in his chapter, a letter to Ann Gill, former chair of the speech communication department.

Timpson said that the book was a challenge and also involved a lot of growing for the contributors.

“We tend to think of faculty as experts,” he said. “These are examples of real deep soul-searching by the instructors. It gives students a real insight of how knowledge is created and refined.”

The editors and contributors are currently working on a companion volume for the book, to be released in the spring.

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