Miss Froud-Davis' Thought of the Term: DiversityPosted on: 21/05/2021
The term ‘Diversity’ originates from the Latin ‘diversitatem’ meaning ‘contrariety or contradiction’, as well as ‘diversus’ meaning ‘turned different ways’. This suggests that as a concept, diversity is about being different or turning aside from something. If this is the case, we must first establish what it is that a diverse society is turning away from. The implication in the term is that we are moving away from some form of common identity, that to diversify means that we choose to change ourselves to be different. To some extent, this is what a diverse society is made up of, individuals that are different than we expect, that have different ethnicities, cultures, faiths, gender, gender identities, ages, sexes and attitudes. Alongside these differences, are associated challenges of acceptance and understanding.
For me though, the idea that diversity means turning from a common identity is flawed. It is true that our communities share commonalities in identity. In our community, there are a significant number of individuals who share cultural backgrounds and customs. There are shared faiths within the school community and commonality of age among many students, but for each of these their commonalities are matched by their differences.
A school community is a bustling, thriving and ever evolving entity that embraces a richness of variety. For one student football at lunchtime is a source of excitement and unity with likeminded peers. For another, the competitive drive of the football pitch is alien and their interests lie in alternative, sometimes independent, pursuits. Does this mean that the student who loves football is the expectation and the student who does not is diversifying? I think not.
As Jimmy Carter said ‘we become not a melting pot, but a beautiful mosaic. Different people. Different beliefs. Different yearnings. Different hopes. Different dreams.’
This is what diversity is, there is no original or normal starting point, we are each unique in our differences. It is both our shared identities and our diverse identities that make up who we are and how we connect. When we recognise, that we are all diverse from one another, we eliminate the concept of ‘other’ and with it associated prejudices.
This year, we celebrate more than ever before, a united community, full of commonalities, differences, challenges, achievements and unique quirks. Never before has it been more splendid to be a diverse community.
Head of Ethos
St Birinus School