2017-02-28 /

The role of professionals in promoting diversity and inclusiveness

Continuous professional development is needed to embrace diversity and promote inclusiveness

This literature review aims to provide an initial theoretical framework on professionals’ beliefs and practices concerning cultural and linguistic diversity and promoting inclusiveness. Within this scope, professionals were broadly defined as all adults who work with children, either in an official institution, such as (pre)school, or in the context of community-based (volunteer) services.

The review illustrates that professionals’ attitudes towards cultural diversity are inconsistent, with some evidence showing positive or neutral views towards cultural diversity in the classroom, whereas other evidence pointing to (implicit) negative beliefs. Concerning linguistic diversity, the evidence is more consistent and generally shows a strong assimilationist approach, thus disregarding the importance of the first language. The authors highlight that generally teachers feel unprepared in dealing with cultural and linguistic diversity and find it challenging to work with a diverse population. In some countries, the curriculum and the materials used in the classroom show higher levels of diversity acceptance than in others. The review concludes by stating that continuous professional development embedded within a school or organizational system in which there is a shared view and effort to embrace diversity is needed to make sustainable changes.