Gary Howard Presents Lecture on Diversity at Mount Union College

April 08, 2010

Gary Howard, author of We Can't Teach What We Don't Know, presented a powerful and insightful lecture discussing the many different perspectives of diversity in our schools at Mount Union College on Thursday March 22.

Howard started the lecture by giving the audience some background about himself. He grew up in Seattle, where he said 'everyone was like me.' It was a white suburban neighborhood where he didn't know anything about anyone that was different than him.

He then went to Yale University with well-known figures such as George Bush and members of the Black Panthers as classmates. It was at Yale that he learned the world was different and began to look deeper at diversity.

Howard spoke about various types of diversity ' sexual orientation, religion, race, gender, ethnicity and asked 'Why is it taking us so long to overcome these differences? What is standing in the way? What will it take to overcome this?'

He asked that the audience get into small groups and discuss these questions. The groups joined for six minutes and then Howard went around the audience and gathered their answers.

The audience discussed many different answers to the questions Howard had posed. After reaching a general consensus, it was concluded that people are afraid of change and don't want to step out of their comfort zone. People don't have any motivation to change and the power is in the way.

' Social dominance, which are systems of privilege and preference, are reinforced by power and favoring certain groups over others,' said Howard. He provided an example of a corporation setting to clarify. 'A woman gives an idea and no one says anything, but a man gives the same idea and everyone gives him credit.'

Howard discussed the Dynamics of Dominance ' the assumption of rightness and the luxury of ignorance ' and warned the audience 'a person with power with assumption of rightness and clueless about their ignorance is very dangerous.'

Howard explored many different aspects of diversity and related it to the audience. He used their feedback and brought it into his presentation, which enhanced the knowledge of the audience.

The founder and president of the REACH Center for Multicultural Education, Howard completed his undergraduate and graduate work in cultural anthropology and social psychology at Yale University. He has experience in diversity leadership and training.

Howard is the author of many articles on race, justice and multicultural issues. We Can't Teach What We Don't Know, published by Columbia University, is considered groundbreaking work, examining issues of privilege, power, and the role of white leaders and educators in a multicultural society.

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