The Importance of Learning Styles: Understanding the Implications for Learning, Course Design, and Education

By Serbrenia J. Sims; Ronald R. Sims | Go to book overview

8
Using Experiential Learning Theory and Learning Styles in Diversity Education
Mary Ann Rainey and David A. KolbDiversity education is an increasingly important priority for schools, the work place, and the community. Its purpose is to raise awareness and understanding of differences in race, ethnicity, gender, physical ability, and social class, as well as in less visible differences of sexual lifestyle, education, personal style, and way of knowing. Diversity education promotes two fundamental democratic values -- equal rights for all regardless of difference and the right to recognition of individual difference. The idea is that learning flourishes when learners have equal opportunity to develop and utilize their talents and perspectives to the fullest. Learning to value differences and to be receptive to diversity pose difficult educational challenges.
1. Diversity education requires not only acquisition of knowledge but also attitude change, appreciation of multiple perspectives, and willingness to bring about change. It must address emotional, perceptual, cognitive, and behavioral issues. The definition of prejudice, for example, includes not only ignorance of those who are different but also an emotional investment in maintaining that ignorance. Freire ( 1974) pedagogy of "critical conscientization" sought to enable the oppressed masses of Brazil to understand their plight as well as to change it.
2. Resources of diversity education must be organized to be maximally responsive to what each learner wants to learn and the manner in which that learning is to be achieved. An African American female may enter a diversity class seeking to understand the institutions of racism and sexism, a goal that may require her to read related concepts and theories. A white male, on the other hand, who wants to learn what it

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