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What does diversity mean? : analyzing for the meaning of diversity within the teacher education discourse

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library


This dissertation is an analytical exploration and evaluation of the concept of diversity. It springs from the author's concern that within the teacher education discourse there is an apparent deficiency regarding analytical effort toward challenging ordinary terms, their strong convictions, and categorical statements stemming from them. In particular, what is of concern is the lack of attention paid toward exploring the assumptions that underlie the bold proclamations involving the ordinary yet powerful and arguably loosely defined term, diversity. Specifically speaking, it is a three step attempt toward conceptually clarifying diversity's meaning within the teacher education discourse. In doing so, this dissertation accomplishes three things: 1) it develops a common sense understanding of diversity; 2) provides a thematic review of the teacher education literature; and, 3) develops an original hybridized form of philosophical conceptual analysis referred to as a net-type analysis. The analysis is then applied to a purposefully selected set of artifacts culled from the literature review. In the least, this dissertation procures two interesting finds. The first find is that diversity's meaning can be understood in two dimensions. The first dimension is a reference to demographic considerations pertaining to race and culture. This is diversity's descriptive dimension. And second, diversity is a reference to some action that should be taken in light of the demographic considerations. This is diversity's normative dimension. These two dimensions are inseparably bound. Metaphorically speaking, diversity is a double helix having as its helices the two aforementioned dimensions. The second find, and analytically speaking, diversity as used in teacher education is really a reference to a body of knowledge and a set of skills that help reduce any cultural mismatch that might occur when White teachers teach students of color.

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