Book by H. Richard Miller
Review by Melissa Vosen
College of University Studies and Department of English
North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND
Diversity and education: Teachers, teaching, and teacher education is an edited collection that aims to educate pre-service teachers and their college instructors and advisors on the principles of multicultural education; in addition, this collection also provides some general ideas on how diversity could be addressed in the classroom. This collection has five different sections: African American Males in P-12 Schools, African American Females in P-12 Schools, ELL Learners, Teacher Education, and Race, Class, and Culture.
While the titles of several chapters seem to imply that the information found in the next few pages only pertains to a very specific student population (for example, African American male student athletes), the issues raised throughout this text are issues that instructors and advisors could benefit from learning more about in order to improve interaction with students and advisees and to better educate students and advisees on diversity issues. As one chapter author states, “Quite simply, from the perspective of educators in higher education--especially future K-12 educators--with opportunities to interact, learn, and be challenged in a diverse educational setting is no longer an optional enhancement to the educational experience” (p.189). Many of the chapter authors echo educator Nel Noddings’ sentiments; in her book Caring: A feminine approach to ethics and moral education, Noddings argues that instructors need to create an ethics of care.
As instructors of orientation and first year success courses, we can take a page out of this book: provide diverse examples in teaching, include diverse experiences in course requirements, question media representations of diverse populations, recruit and support teachers from diverse backgrounds, and encourage mentorship between students and community members. The only thing missing from this text is some more concrete examples for classroom application. It would be nice to see an assignment, for example, that questions media representations of diverse populations.
Departments will benefit from having a copy of this book on their bookshelves despite some problematic suggestions and ideas raised by some chapter authors. For example, on one hand, Milner argues that teachers need to speak about possibilities not destruction when addressing African American males students, yet he argues that teachers should provide African American male students “multiple opportunities to complete assignments” (p. 9). He also encourages instructors to allow “students to do make-up work and extra credit at the end of the school term when students were at risk of failing” (p.12). I find the latter suggestion problematic; are we serving our students if we allow them to turn assignments in late or not at all? Encouraging students to wait until the last minute goes against what many of us teach in our orientation and first year success courses in regards to time management; as advisors, supporting the accommodations suggested above is, I believe, perhaps one of the most destructive pieces of advice an advisor can give.
In the end, it is important to reiterate that the primary audience of this text is clearly pre-service P-12 teachers and the professors that instruct them; however, Diversity and education: Teachers, teaching, and teacher education does pose some thought provoking questions, which should causea reflection and pause by advisors on how they interact with their diverse advisee population.
Noddings, N. (2003).Caring: A feminine approach to ethics and moral education (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Diversity and education: Teachers, teaching, and teacher education. (2008). Book by H. Richard Miller. Review by Melissa Vosen. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher. 288 pp., $61.95, ISBN # 978-0-398-07829-4