Different Is Not Deficit: A Philosophical View of Diversity and Identity

By Myrtle Welch.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Focusing upon diversity is important because philosophies and ideologies drive society. Membership in certain cultures often positions members in marginal statuses because some members of other cultures hold the ideology that to be different, from them, is to be deficit, intellectually. Others, including me, believe that membership in certain cultures does not make one deficit, intellectually. Therefore, my philosophy of diversity is that “different is not deficit.” Three meanings of diversity are varieties, distinct, and sundry. There can be differences even in varieties. The determination of which variety is superior or subservient is in the mind of the determiner. The determination of identity is in the beholder’s mind.
Focusing upon identity is important for issues of student achievement globally. In this paper, students, of all nationalities, represent the minds of the determiners and the minds of the beholders. When students see, mostly, certain cultures in subservient jobs, a message is sent that “different is deficit” and achievement is for certain people. As these students grow up, they begin to manage culture. Those who manage culture with the philosophy and ideology of the deficit model will maintain and perpetrate the same oppressive regime of racism within society.

Keywords: Identity, Diversity, Philosophy of Diversity, Deficit Model, Student Achievement

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp.33-46. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.954MB).

Dr. Myrtle Welch

Assistant Professor, Department of Elementary Education and Reading, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, New York, USA

Myrtle I. Welch, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Buffalo State College in the Department of Elementary Education and Reading is a veteran public school teacher who spent many years teaching English, ESOL, and reading to diverse populations in grades Pre-Kinder through twelfth. Her transition into higher education began with her decision to pursue her doctoral degree. She has supervised student teachers and taught graduate courses at New Mexico State College and at the University of Central Florida. Her research interest is students who are challenged by reading and achieving at school. She has presented her research at various conferences including the Oxford Roundtable, and AERA, to name a few. In 2007, she was a participant Ambassador of the 2007 World Forum in Washington D.C. Her publications, especially Reading Pedagogy: The Foundation and Cornerstone for the Expansion of Literacy (2007), cast a framework for teaching students who are challenged by texts and school culture.

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