Academic journal article Journal of Invitational Theory and Practice

Elements of Diversity in Invitational Practice and Research

Academic journal article Journal of Invitational Theory and Practice

Elements of Diversity in Invitational Practice and Research

Article excerpt

Invitational theory uses many elements to define, describe, and delineate its beliefs and practices. For example, the Five Ps of people, places, policies, programs, and processes are consistently cited in the literature and research as the framework for assessing inviting practices (Purkey & Novak, 1996; Purkey & Schmidt, 1996; Purkey & Siegel, 2003; Smith, 2005). Another example is the presentation of four areas of inviting: Inviting Oneself Personally, Inviting Oneself Professionally, Inviting Others Personally, and Inviting Others Professionally (Purkey & Novak, 1996; Purkey & Schmidt, 1996; Purkey & Siegel, 2003). Such elements and components help to explain invitational theory and practices in an understandable language with useable concepts. All these concepts coexist in the approach known as Invitational Education.

As an inclusive model of communication and human relations, Invitational Education, implies a belief system that embraces, celebrates, and honors diversity. Yet, invitational theorists and writers have not illustrated this proactive stance and genuine acceptance of diverse populations in many publications. Stanley's (1992) twenty-year bibliography of invitational papers, articles, and books indicates some sources that address diversity in the broadest sense. Her compilation produced topics about at-risk students (Almond, 1991; Dorsey, 1991), 1984), teachers of color (Paxton, 1990), gifted students (Ganopole, 1988; Russell, 1984), students with disabilities (Dixon & Siegel, 1983), and gender differences (Stillion, 1983). Similarly, a cursory review of all eleven volumes of the Journal of Invitational Theory and Practice (1992-2006) found an article that addresses multicultural education (Arceneaux, 1992), one that focuses on gender differences (Dickman, 1993), and another that discusses diversity and invitational theory and practice (Schmidt, 2004).

In an earlier article, I stated that the principles put forth by invitational theory and practice present implications for working with people of diverse backgrounds (Schmidt, 2004). I reviewed basic assumptions, concepts, constructs, and stages, of invitational theory in the context of professionally helping diverse populations. The thrust of the article was to take the initial step in addressing "the nuances of applying this approach with students, parents, employees, clients, patients, or other populations from diverse backgrounds" (p, 43). In doing so, the hope was to examine the language of invitational theory, challenge practitioners and theorists to critique invitational concepts, constructs, and strategies from diverse perspectives, and encourage research about applications of invitational practice across diverse populations to verify that these "approaches can be applied with confidence across student, client, and patient groups" (p. 44). As noted, this call for research has not yet been answered. Nevertheless, the absence of research has not inhibited authors, including myself, in endorsing invitational approaches when working with diverse groups. In a recent text on counseling (Schmidt, 2006), I described the four levels of invitational functioning from a culturally sensitive perspective, and noted that invitational counseling is an integrative approach that "embraces a broad perspective of the services needed to help clients meet the diverse challenges of today's world" (p. 188). At the same time, I noted that invitational approaches "move beyond alleviation of immediate concerns towards an exploration of relatively boundless potential for future human development" (p. 188).

A lack of research about invitational practices with diverse populations has encouraged the current article. Perhaps what researchers and practitioners of invitational theory require is a schema or method by which to examine behaviors, the Five Ps, or other variables within multi-cultural and diverse contexts. In this article, I propose six elements of diversity (the Six E's) by which researchers and practitioners can assess relationships and organizations in terms of accepting, embracing, and celebrating diversity. …

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