Inspire - a Teaching Fellows' newsletter

Promoting excellence in Learning and Teaching, driven by Middlesex Senior Fellows of HEA with contributions welcomed from all Middlesex staff.

Diversity – three key learning points

I have worked in Dubai, United Arab Emirates for 16 years and have taught and worked with many different nationalities and diverse cultural groups. My experiences have taught me valuable lessons in terms of finding a balance between staying consistent with my own values and beliefs, whilst at the same time building a rapport and showing respect for others. I have reasoned this into three key areas, which I believe that if in place it is possible to live and work in harmony with any diverse group of people.

1.    Self-awareness – if you do not know yourself, you cannot begin to know others. It is vital that we not only understand our own impact on others, but that we also understand and can manage the impact and influence others have on us.
2.    Communication – how we speak, question and listen to others has a huge impact on our rapport with both students and faculty. A good rapport is essential to developing and encouraging the growth of effective teaching and learning and collaboration in the workplace.
3.    Respect – it is essential to get to know the people you work with and the students in your class, what are their life stories, what do they value, believe in, join in cultural celebrations and discuss the impact on learning. We can all learn from each other, if we are open and treat people with the same respect as we would expect ourselves.

In summary I agree with the words of John Hume:
‘Difference is of the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity.’(John Hume, Nobel Prize for Peace, 1998)

Dr. Kay Sanderson (STFHEA)
Programme Coordinator and Senior Lecturer, Education
Middlesex University Dubai, United Arab Emirates