Dean of Pastoral Care

Why embracing diversity matters

I have been spending a good amount of time this year reading and reflecting on diversity and inclusion in education at a time when our world has become increasingly insular and suspicious about difference. You only have to look at the world’s political stage to see how this is being played out; some leaders are more interested in building walls, restricting migration rates, increasing tariffs on other countries, all with the view to maintain their status quo and not let a so called different, in. Australia too, has struggled in this area. It has only been 46 years since we abolished The White Australia Policy, where being “white” meant that you could resettle in Australia. Thankfully, those days are gone. Mina Huang, an ambassador for Pearson Campus at Wilfred Laurier University states, “Diversity in education matters, and it plays an important role in helping people make more of their lives through learning.”

Diversity lets people see the world. When people are more educated and embrace diversity, they learn to make judgments based on a person’s actions and words and not by their appearance. By being open to learning about one another, we can reduce the fear and negativity in this world. In a more diverse learning environment, we learn more from one another and the more people know, the fewer the problems that may occur. Conflict is inevitable and a part of life, but diversity does not mean that in order to uplift one group, we must push another down. Diversity is about seeing each other as equals and accepting each other’s differences. We do not and should not accept the erosion of human rights or immoral conduct, but we do need to accept that there are many different world perspectives and ways of living a just and moral life. After all, what would be the point of getting to know one another if we were all the same? What would be the point of travelling halfway across the world to find the same things you can find a block down your own street? What would be the point of anyone remembering who you are, if there wasn’t anything about you that made you different? That is why diversity matters.

Schools play a key role in educating young people about understanding the importance of diversity. This week we have been engaged in National Reconciliation Week, where as a whole school community we are called to engage respectfully with our Aboriginal sisters and brothers and to understand the gift of their faith and spirituality to our unique connection with the land. What better way to look diversity in the face and be prepared to engage in this area than through the Loreto Normanhurst Reconciliation Action Plan that calls us to advocate authentically and in the spirit of our Loreto mission.  It’s necessary to continue to ensure that our students engage with Australian issues that do matter. Furthermore, Loreto Day is also the embodiment of what it means to truly embrace diversity, acknowledging situations in the world where others are disadvantaged and not able to receive support in areas that we take for granted. This is the founding call of the Loreto mission and why a Loreto Normanhurst education so powerfully enriches and shapes your daughter’s worldview. Some further reasons are below.

Cultural Awareness

Learning about different languages, traditions, and other important cultural aspects can shape any child’s mind for the better. The most effective way that they learn this is at school where they interact with a culturally diverse group of students and curriculum.

Sensitivity toward Others

Diversity also teaches your daughter how to be more sensitive toward others, to respect them so that we can foster a better sense of compassion towards other people.

Sharper Creative Thinking Skills

Some will say that creative thinking skills can be improved when in a diverse environment. Your daughter will be able to look at problems from different angles and perspectives and come up with more effective solutions. Diversity will teach your child how to draw upon different influences to solve problems and not just view these issues through a single-focus lens. The greatest thought leaders and entrepreneurs in the world surround themselves with culturally diverse people as they appreciate deeply the richness of their differing perspectives.

Combating Stereotypes

All too often, people tend to adopt stereotypical views about different groups of people. The goal is to challenge at an early age these views so that people begin to see diversity as a norm.

Start by Learning Diversity Yourself

Diversity begins with yourself. Learn about others and their points of view. Be curious and ask questions for this is the springboard to a peaceful and just society that can live with the inevitable differences and conflicts that arise.

Appreciate Individuality and Cultivate Respect

Knowing is only half the battle. At Loreto Normanhurst, we work very hard to instill in students a spirit of acceptance and individuality. This is truly encapsulated in the Loreto Normanhurst Student Growth Model, underpinned by the Loreto values and a student wellbeing program committed to embracing diversity. After all, this is what we want for our students; to have the ability to understand people who present with different backgrounds, challenges and experiences with more than tolerance, but a deep understanding and compassion for others.

 

Mr Justin Madigan

Dean of Pastoral Care