On teaching equality rather than “tolerance to diversity”: An interactive constructivist approach for teaching diversity and international perspectives in family studies

Garcia, Camilo
Iowa State University

This is a report on an interactive-constructivist teaching strategy focused on the development of awareness of equality rather than tolerance to diversity. Curriculum is designed to lead students’ attitudinal change beyond the rethoric tolerance to social diversity. Based on the central concept that all different forms of diversity are social constructs rather than “realities,” college students are led through three learning stages: self-experience, interaction, and reflection or metacognition of their own experience. In the self-experience stage, students are collectively exposed to a story embedded in their own culture (the Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein). Then, going through a self-examination of their emotional reactions to a story of exploitation, examine the unevenness of the relationship. In a second stage, the students interact by administering themselves this task to a person of different culture. In the process students also question their informants requesting from them the report of their personal interpretation of the story to which they were previously exposed to. In a final stage, the students are expected to compare their own experience with their informant’s interpretations. Overall, the students are engaged in experiencing confusion, awareness, conflict, disequilibria, assimilations, and integration of knowledge. The knowledge students achieve emerges from self-experience, and awareness of others’ differences, “diversity.” This experience in turn leads to a successful self-constructed knowledge and long lasting attitudinal change beyond the emotional rhetoric of tolerance for “diversity.”