What would I ask government to promote youth development? If you ask me this question, two ideas came into my mind. The first one would be to ask government to maximize youth potential by providing access to youth’s interests (sciences, entrepreneurships, sports, arts, educations, social projects and many areas of youth interests). Allow them to study or develop their talents and gifts by providing scholarships. Train them to participate and win international competitions.
However, the second idea is what I see as more important. I will ask government to allow more international students to take part in educations. I want educations to be filled not only with local students, but also with students across the world. Why would I want that? How is that important? To answer these questions, I would like to point at how advantageous diversity is to educational settings. And no, I’m not exaggerating it. Let’s have a look at some supports about this idea.
First, Pettigrew and Tropp (2006) found in their research that diversity settings in educations help to significantly reduce students’ prejudice to other cultures. Prejudice is often treated as a major factor that promotes discrimination and lack of tolerance between groups and cultures (Baron, Branscombe, & Byrne, 2008). Contrary, less prejudice is correlated with people’s tolerance towards physically or culturally different people (race, gender, sexual orientations, ethnicities, cultures). Do we want youth to develop their negative prejudice? Or do we want youth to promote culture of peace which can be built by promoting tolerance?
Another advantage is that diversity experience of students can increase their critical thinking skills (Laird, 2005). Critical thinking is essential skill that helps students to effectively solve problems and making decisions (which we definitely want for youth to possess). Experience of students interacting with other students from culturally different backgrounds highly increases their source of information quantities. Students learn lots of new information and new knowledge by interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds. These heightened quantities of new information engage them with complex mode of thought, which is related to critical thinking (Loes, Pascarella, & Umbach, 2012; Berret, 2012).
Lastly, according to a research done by Denson & Zhang (2010) in Australia, multicultural diversity in educational settings positively impact student’s ability to work with others, and appreciation for diversity. When students exposed to surroundings different with their home environment, students engage with the exploration of new ideas, new social roles, and different kinds of relationships which helped them to develop their social and teamwork skills. Gurin et al. (2002) stated in their researches that experience with diversity will help students to get used to increasingly diverse workplace and society which is quite essential for youth development.
For youth to engage in culturally diverse educational environments is definitely important. Within high diversity, youth develop many skills necessary for their societal roles, such as tolerance, critical thinking (for effective problem solving and decision making), and even teamwork and social skills. Preparing youth with these skills is what government should consider.
Baron, R.A., Branscombe, N.R., & Byrne, D. (2008). Social psychology, 12th Ed. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
Denson, N. & Zhang, S. (2010). The impact of student experiences with diversity on developing graduate attributes. Studies in Higher Education, 35, 5, August 2010, 529–543.
Gurin, P., E.L. Dey, S. Hurtado, and G. Gurin. 2002. Diversity and higher education: Theory and impact on educational outcomes. Harvard Educational Review 72: 330–66.
Laird, T.F.N. (2005). College Students’ Experiences with Diversity and Their Effects on Academic Self-Confidence, Social Agency, and Disposition toward Critical Thinking. Research in Higher Education, 46 (4), pg. 365-387.
Loes, C., Pascarella, E., & Umbach, P. (2012). Effects of Diversity Experiences on Critical Thinking Skills: Who Benefits? The Journal of Higher Education, 83, 1.
Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. R. (2006). A meta‐analytic test of intergroup contact theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, pg. 751‐783.