The cultural diversification of the teaching profession: how effective is it?

Ninetta Santoro

Research output: Contribution to conferenceKeynote


Teaching and educating for social justice features strongly in how many teachers envision the purpose of their work. However, despite the best of teacher intentions, some culturally diverse groups of pupils are disadvantaged by, and within schooling systems that fail to address their needs. Black students, immigrants and refugees are often marginalised by ineffective education practices and thus, denied access to the social and material resources that facilitate their full participation in society. One way of addressing this problem in many places in the world has been to diversify the teaching profession so that it is more representative of the cultural makeup of the student population. Such a strategy is based on assumptions that teachers who are of ethnic and racial minority are well placed to act as role models for minority students, will understand students' cultural practices and beliefs and how they shape them as learners, and will contribute diverse cultural perspectives to school curricula.

Drawing on research I have conducted over a 10 year period, as well as the work of key scholars in the field, I suggest that the diversification of the profession is potentially counterproductive unless teachers drawn from the dominant cultural 'mainstream' work in partnership with their culturally and ethnically diverse colleagues to address practices that sustain inequality and injustice within education. This requires all teachers to be culturally responsive and critically aware practitioners. I conclude by arguing the need for a critical teacher education, that is, teacher education that develops teachers' critical awareness about how relations of power and historical and socio-political discourses construct 'difference', education, teachers and teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2014
EventDiversity in the Teaching Profession - University of Galway, Galway, Ireland
Duration: 24 Oct 2014 → …


ConferenceDiversity in the Teaching Profession
Period24/10/14 → …


  • cultural diversification


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