Diversity is integral to the educational mission of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. Ideally, in the course of learning, our students will encounter a rich profusion of diversity.
Diversity at the Laboratory Schools includes the thoughts and worldviews, identities and affiliations, aptitudes and aspirations, races and cultures, genders and sexualities, and experiences and economics of our students, families, faculty, administrators, and staff. Through their engagement with diversity, students will gain the preparation they need to live and lead in a complex world, with an inherent sense of inclusiveness and justice.
Our diversity has its roots in social justice. Amidst the racially segregated reality of Chicago and greater America in 1942, a parent arose to call for integration. Governed by the principle of equality, as demonstrated by its then long-standing history of enrolling Asian and Jewish students, the Laboratory Schools took action to become the first private school in Chicago to admit African American students. As a result of the early and ongoing attention to diversity, the Laboratory Schools are endowed with an extended family of diverse alumni who have entered and influenced all walks of life.
In our vision, we strive to appreciate fully the role of diversity in education and to define the crucial and continuous commitments we must make as a community to foster diversity at the Laboratory Schools. We believe our diverse community plays a vital part in our students’ academic, social, and individual growth.
The object of a democratic education is not merely to make an individual an intelligent participant in the life of his immediate group, but to bring the various groups into such constant interaction that no individual, no economic group, could presume to live independently of others.”
Diversity contributes profoundly to an experience-centered education.
Based on the philosophy of John Dewey, our approach to education seeks to expose students to an abundance of ideas, views, beliefs, customs, stories and other individual and collective expressions. Students are directly exposed to these expressions through open dialogue in the classroom, cultural resource sharing by our families, and the social dynamics of friendships and community life. Our philosophy holds that such exposure elicits an internal response, a spark of interest, that in turn motivates the student to ask questions, pursue knowledge, and compare what is learned with established ideas.
Diversity advances rigorous academic inquiry.
Our students develop a strong foundation of intellectual inquiry and debate, which serves them well as academic demands become more rigorous through the grades. Diversity facilitates learning to think critically and creatively; students must work to interpret the position of another and to translate that understanding through different means of expression.
Diversity supports and enhances a well-rounded program of study.
A diverse environment is ideal for a liberal arts curriculum. Students gain insight into the worldviews, experiences, and expressions of others through literature, languages, social science, history, and the arts. Ethical dimensions of science and applied mathematics benefit from considering diversity. Diverse perspectives are intrinsic to the subject matter considered important at the Laboratory Schools.
Diversity provides opportunities for cross-cultural relationships and an integrated community life.
The Laboratory Schools enjoy a unique diversity. Situated on the University of Chicago campus, we benefit from the racial and cultural richness of Hyde Park. Our reputation for academic excellence attracts students from the racial, ethnic, and socio-economic mosaic of Chicago. Our school community represents a wide range of countries of origin, languages spoken at home, and religious practices. When students and families gather and form friendships, they are moved, challenged, enriched, and changed.
Diversity helps students to develop the skills and abilities needed to participate in a pluralistic, democratic society and in an interconnected global community.
With a wealth of ideas and worldviews to consider, students develop the critical thinking skills that are crucial for evaluating assertions put forth in the public sphere. Through the ability to imagine other points of view, students can attend to the social dimensions of ideas. A diverse community provides a valuable context for acquiring knowledge of the world’s cultures, developing the diplomatic skill of viewing issues from many perspectives, and learning to reason through differences.
Diversity advocates a sense of social responsibility.
Diverse perspectives, found in the curriculum or in the community, often reveal social injustice. A socially conscious dimension to education helps students to gain awareness of current social problems, motivating them to participate in socially responsible activities and initiatives. This spirit of social responsibility stirs compassion, stimulates action, and inspires leadership among our students.
Living harmoniously in a diverse community requires students to communicate ethically and to exercise civility.
Even in a community that respects differences, those differences will provoke conflict. At the Laboratory Schools, we seek to facilitate communication in an ethical manner, whereby all parties agree to allow other voices to have a place at the table of ideas. Students learn how to listen to each other with humility and civility and how to function as a community in continuous conversation.
Diversity contributes to students’ developmental process of self-determinism.
Diversity offers students multiple ways to define themselves and many paths to discover. Our multi-cultural community makes a place for racial, ethnic, religious, national, or other cultural origins of importance to students and their families. In a social climate that accepts differences, students are free to develop their individuality, pursue their interests, and reflect upon their heritage.
Diversity enables students to find ways to connect with others through a broad range of complex identifiers and affinities.
In a diverse community, students learn how differences; e.g., gender, sexual orientation, family, race, ethnicity, faith, politics, and learning styles; and their respective degree of importance to identity, may shape interactions and enrich communications between and among individuals and groups. Students learn not to relate principally through difference, but through revealing themselves and exploring shared interests and affiliations.
Immersed in diversity, students ultimately come to appreciate their common humanity as well as individual capability.
Students forge a common meaning for their identity as students of the Laboratory Schools. This common identity ascribes to each student a certain dignity. As students experience the Schools’ educational demands and diversity, students differentiate themselves by talents, learning differences, individual expression, initiative, achievements, and exemplary behavior.
Diversity helps students develop interpersonal skills and judgment over time, but not without difficulty.
A learning institution must recognize that the intellectual and social skills necessary for students to flourish in a diverse community are neither innate nor fixed, and mistakes will be made. Our educational responsibility includes developing intellectual resources and nurturing healthy social interactions, while treating conflicts as opportunities for growth. Consistent with our Codes of Conduct, however, malicious behavior will not be tolerated.
Fostering the diversity that we believe enables students to grow academically, socially and individually requires the participation and support of all members of our community. Whether parents, faculty, administrators, or staff, members can expect to receive respect and to extend respect to others. Only when our community functions in a healthy manner can we provide a beneficial environment for our students. Thus, we, as a community, must support efforts to realize and sustain this health. Building on the good work already being done, the Laboratory Schools affirm the following core commitments:
To sustain a faculty that embraces and employs our diversity vision. To ensure teachers have the knowledge and skills to effectively and appropriately teach about, within and through diversity, in ways that are relevant to the stages of students’ development.
To provide a variety and abundance of resources and occasions to expose students to individual and collective expressions and experiences, including those of people who have been traditionally excluded. To partner with families to enhance school life through their voices and cultures.
Intentional Hiring & Admissions
To maintain a community composition that reflects our diversity vision. To pursue targeted recruitment and retention efforts and adhere to non-discriminatory policies when hiring administration, faculty, and staff [i] and admitting students. [ii]
Strong Sense of Community
To encourage cohesive and inclusive community and workplace dynamics. To monitor our social functioning for obstacles to full participation, to establish an ethos of respect for differences, to reinforce shared values, and to entrust the whole community with guarding diversity and forging community.
Cross Cultural Skill Development
To cultivate cross-cultural awareness and relational skills in our students, through cultural, communicative ethics, and civility education. To increase our students’ understanding of and ability to negotiate the similarities and differences in social structures and corresponding expectations internationally.
To promote social responsibility toward the wider community. To help students discern the ways in which people are excluded from society. To provide opportunities for students to expand their social boundaries, build relationships, develop empathy, and serve. To evaluate institutional practice and community behavior, and continue or implement socially responsible practices; e.g., procurement policy. [iii]
Freedom of Individual Expression
To create an environment where students are comfortable to be/become themselves and still feel included. To protect the freedom of students to talk about themselves, their culture, their religion, their politics, their academic arguments, etc. without fear of derision and reprisal. To see the student as his/her own person, not as a spokesperson for a group.
Appreciation of Individual Potential
To promote appreciation of the human dignity and potential of our students. To hold uniformly high standards, while striving to recognize individual promise, support achievement, and understand learning differences.
Educative Conflict Resolution
To establish a process for conflict resolution that supports inter-personal relational growth and improves community understanding of the pertinent issues. To ensure that guidelines for socially acceptable behavior are clear and enforced fairly.
[i] The University of Chicago offers equal opportunities in employment to all employees and job seekers. No person shall be discriminated against regarding employment because of age, ancestry, color, disability, gender identity, marital status, national origin, parental status, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, source of income, or veteran status. This policy includes the commitment to maintaining a work environment free from unlawful harassment.
[ii] In keeping with its long-standing traditions and policies, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools consider students for admission on the basis of individual merit and does not discriminate based on race, color religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, disability or any other protected class under the law.
[iii] In keeping with its long-standing tradition and policies, and in compliance with applicable law, the University of Chicago does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national or ethnic origin, disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, or other irrelevant factors. In addition, and in compliance with these policies and applicable law, the University of Chicago is committed to providing enhanced opportunities for minority-owned, women-owned, and small business enterprises to participate in the University's procurement process.