Valuing diversity

Understanding and valuing diversity is an essential aspect of work as teachers and career practitioners. It’s important to explore diversity from different angles and outline knowledge, skills and attitudes that may increase our effectiveness in working with all types of diversity.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are very different with their own unique histories, beliefs and values. It is respectful to recognise their separate identities.

Aboriginal culture is not homogeneous across the country. There are/were various different nations, tribes and groups living across Australia (estimated up to 300) with their own distinct language/dialect (about 250 languages and up to 600 dialects).

Why value diversity?

The term ‘diversity’ refers to all the ways in which people are different as individuals, groups and cultures. It is important to value diversity because:

  • people build a stronger sense of identity and wellbeing, and have better education and career outcomes when their diverse strengths, abilities, interests and perspectives are understood and supported
  • it can be conducive to creativity, innovation and adaptability in societies and organisations
  • it enables equitable participation in society, and
  • it is a legal and ethical requirement.

Cultural diversity

Everyone has a worldview made up of cultural ‘givens’ and individual constructs of reality. It filters how one experiences and interprets the world and one’s place in it.

Examples of differences in worldview are:

Worldview AWorldview B
Value respect for and protection of a living natural worldValue control and manipulation of the natural world for human benefit
See a world that is spiritual, cyclical, and patterned yet uncontrollableSee a world that is stable and predictable
Study the interrelatedness of all natural thingsStudy objects in isolation from context
Value learning by doingFocus on the physical world and measurable parameters
Value lived experience, oral traditions, and wisdom embedded in spiritualityValue abstract scientific knowledge as objective, universal, or superior
See contradiction as mysteries to be embraced, not resolvedSee contradiction as a problem to be reconciled

(Hassel, 2005)

There are likely to be overlaps between people’s worldviews, however the key is to remember that one’s own individual/cultural lens influences what one observes. It helps to try to understand behaviour from the other’s perspective.

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© 2014/2015 Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA). The More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teachers Initiative (MATSITI) was initiated by the Commonwealth Government and funded for a four-year period 2011-2015. Within this initiative, the Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA) managed the project; Follow My Lead: Careers in Teaching.