The Influence of Politics and Diversity in Educational Differentiation

The Influence of Politics and Diversity in Educational Differentiation

Desiree L. DePriest (Purdue University Global, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3583-7.ch011
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Abstract

Current societal shifts are unfolding connections between laws, acts, and behaviors of the past that affect education in the present. There is limited scholarship that reveals the historical intentionality in excluding underrepresented and marginalized persons from education. The concern is that the quest for higher industry recognition based on the old models of elite and traditional schools will make online environments vulnerable to those same exclusions. The mission is to apply transparency to the underlying disparate history in education and how severely it has affected so many generations of people, change the paradigm going forward, and not repeat homogeneity online. This chapter proposes a critical examination of factors that necessitated the evolution from past education models established to perpetuate societal dominance by a select few, to the present inclusive online learning models. The chapter argues that technology, along with the failure to include diverse populations as a unique demographic, contributed to the disruption that became online learning.
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Historical Introduction: Causes For Differential Representation

Educational differentiation has always existed in affluent environments while applied educational diversity and inclusion have not. Education has followed the vicious cycles and trends of homogeneity or outright segregation from the perspectives and self-interest of the dominant society. Although originally immigrants from intense inequity themselves, differentiated education models pushed barriers-to-entry upon others as the norm for centuries. Women and ethnicities, LGBTQ+ and differently-abled, absent high socioeconomic status, were resigned to marginal or no education opportunities and brain-based learning was ignored. There were no actionable alternatives for these subgroups in past society where their very existence, to live or to die essentially, was marginalized systemically through the law of the land. These people contributed to the growth of society, they did the jobs the elite did not want to do. For centuries, this was a vicious cycle where the elite continued to benefit from the labors of uneducated, slave or low-wage workers.

Differentiated instruction encourages students based on their individual processes of understanding information. The affluent were taught in terms of ideas, potentials and self-determination. They were destined by socioeconomic status to create government policies, start and run corporations, and manage the marginalized through interconnecting and cross-referencing the mandate to continue legacy and prevent access to others not like them. Because the affluent had a Constitution, at the time, created specifically for their continued acquisition of privilege, the content, process, product and learning environment was tailored by, and for, primarily white male, elite students.

Over time, this societal construct became unsustainable. The Northern states could not keep up with the economy in the South which was heightened by free labor and low socioeconomic workers. The Southern slave owners were losing money through having more slaves than they wanted to house and feed. As more freed blacks and abolitionists visited theses states sharing knowledge, the slave population was getting smarter and harder to oppress. Perhaps out of necessity, with hopes of overcoming mental, emotional and physical pain, the previously denied population began to organize underground railroads and form unions, and shared diverse experiences. This improved opportunities for social mobility and economic growth for the workers and their families who migrated north, or who negotiated their freedom. Eventually, Reconstruction was actively attempted throughout the land. Reconstruction, particularly in the majority freed slave south, allowed black men to successfully run for political office, get academic educations, and have influence through black newspapers and books. Several powerful authors such a W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington, who strongly disagreed on black social and economic progress, presented differentiated ideas to inform and educate on civil rights. It was a disruptive time in the country and the elite were also activated by the potential of actual equality. They sought bigger markets to capitalize on. This required more skilled and educated white workers to develop products and services but the education provided was primarily vocational and undifferentiated. More companies and government structures allowed these people to perform tasks of a particular and specific job. Through vocational school, workers made more money and became bigger consumers. This continued the vicious cycle by making more families dependent on the elite class versus family farms or domestic work. Reconstruction was undermined after 14 years, and even after the Civil War and abolishment of slavery, new laws were put in place to once again exclude women, and segregate African-Americans from differentiated learning and academic advancement (History.com). Even discovered LGBTQ+ persons were given various jail sentences depending on the state. The emergence of “Gay Conversion Therapy” also began during this time (Blakemore, E., 2019).

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