School of Education professor’s books focus on ways to teach diversity in the classroom

William Timpson portraitColorado State University School of Education professor William Timpson recently celebrated the release of the second edition of his book, 147 Tips for Teaching Diversity, as well as the release of his new book, Learning Life’s Lessons.

The first edition of 147 Tips for Teaching Diversity was published in 2005 and originally took core concepts from case studies presented in Timpson’s co-edited book, Teaching Diversity. 147 Tips provides faculty members, students, administrators, teachers and community members with a range of core concepts for addressing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. The new edition brings on two new co-authors and augments the ideas, sources and experiences included in the first edition.

“At its core, this book, drawing on the most current research and best practice, argues for seeing how differences can be a source for improving discussions and decisions as people learn to appreciate other perspectives,” said Timpson.

Learning Life’s Lessons presents twelve historical events – one for each month of the year – that were difficult to endure but ultimately inspiring, as those involved found constructive ways to move forward.

“We know that learning requires commitment and energy, and these can wane when times are tough,” said Timpson. “Teachers at all levels and in all disciplines need to keep their own energies high in order to energize their students.”

Timpson connects these historical events with tips or core concepts from his previous works, reminding readers what has happened before and what is possible in the future. The works referenced in Learning Life’s Lessons are:

  • 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Diversity
  • 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Sustainability: Connecting the Environment, the Economy, and Society
  • 147 Practical Tips for Using Experiential Learning
  • 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Peace and Reconciliation

From ‘Teaching Diversity’ to ‘147 Tips’

Teaching Diversity contains 19 case studies written by faculty and staff from CSU. 147 Tips for Teaching Diversity, intended to describe the challenges and benefits of a diverse student body, uses these case studies to offer ideas for including diversity in the college curriculum.

“Higher education is challenging, because people get hired for their expertise in a specific subject,” said Timpson. “For elementary, junior and senior high school, there are more requirements to understand the learning process and what limits it. This book developed when a group of us got together and realized how much of an issue this was for the university. We dug in and did some case studies from different cultural and disciplinary vantage points.”

After Teaching Diversity was published, Timpson worked with co-authors Raymond Yang, Evelinn Borrayo, and Silvia Sara Canetto to create a more accessible book drawn from Teaching Diversity’s case studies that offers a range of core concepts as tips for faculty, staff, and students.

“Faculty are under such pressures to cover content in their disciplines,” said Timpson. “Sadly, not many have time to dig into a book like Teaching Diversity to understand more about the classroom, student dynamics, and what research and best practices can offer about addressing those dynamics. So, after the first book came out, I got together with a publisher who had done a book titled 147 Tips for Online Learning in the past. Because she had this first book out on 147 tips, I told her that we could adapt Teaching Diversity into the same bite-size concepts to allow busy faculty members to pick and choose depending on what they need.”

The new edition includes new co-authors Jessica Gonzalez-Voller, an assistant professor in CSU’s School of Education Counseling and Career Development program, and Malcolm Scott, an assistant professor in Abilene Christian University’s School of Social Work. New content includes additional tips to:

  • Incorporate diversity within all content
  • Face conflict sensitively and creatively
  • Unlearn prejudice
  • Create open and supportive classrooms
  • Challenge ideas, attitudes, and beliefs
  • See how diversity can be a strength for exploring different perspectives

“I think all of us believe in the importance of an open, honest classroom that is able to look at difficult issues and discuss them as a group,” said Timpson. “The book considers how we equip people to take on difficult communication, and not shrink from embarrassment or criticism. In fact, we want people to see how they can help generate better and more innovative decisions after hearing a range of different perspectives.”

‘Learning Life’s Lessons’

Timpson’s new book, Learning Life’s Lessons, brings together tips from his previous works to create an all-encompassing book for teachers, students, staff, and community members to find hope from the past by learning from what people did to move forward during challenging events.

The book offers core concepts as tips for teaching about sustainability, diversity and experiential learning, as well as peace and reconciliation. Important historical dates serve as inspiration to face the problems of today and the future.

“The genesis of the book is embedded in the ability to look through history for inspiration,” said Timpson. “I identify twelve examples of historical events that were difficult but inspiring, and I connected each to ideas and experiences that were in my past four tips books.”

Learning Life’s Lessons is intended to inspire and provide hope for all, but especially for teachers as they motivate and encourage students to learn from the past as a way to move forward.

“Every morning, I get up and pull that book out and remind myself what happened on this day thirty years ago and what inspired people to get through the hard times,” said Timpson. “It’s a short read, but a profound memory and idea that can hang with me and give me the boost I need to take on that day’s challenges, no matter how difficult the news may be.”

Future works

From 147 Tips for Teaching Diversity to Learning Life’s Lessons, Timpson hopes his books encourage open and constructive conversations about ways to move forward and open new levels of communication.

“It’d be wonderful if people picked up on some of these events and inspirational ideas and had new conversations about the challenges ahead and how they could proceed,” said Timpson. “For example, one of the concepts in the diversity book is that if we’re open to new ideas and have the intellectual and emotional skills to handle them, we get better and make more creative decisions. That belief covers all disciplines. If you want to stay open to change, you have to consider what people are doing in all parts of the world.”

Looking to future publications, Timpson was inspired by his current honors students and hopes to publish a book that brings student voices to the forefront.

“I was so impressed with the writing coming out of my honors sections, and if I look at the market, I don’t see much writing that comes from students,” he said. “There is a lot from academics and professionals. So, I’ve been in conversation with different publishers to develop books that touch on peacemaking and on sustainability from the student perspective.”

He also hopes to write about his past international work in Northern Ireland, Korea, Burundi, Nicaragua and Cuba, to develop case studies that consider what can be learned from conflict.

“I like to think that one of the benefits of this kind of work is the freedom to think and to challenge,” said Timpson. “CSU has been a good place to work – lots of freedom, opportunity, and support across campus. Plus, the student voices have been amazing and I’ve made sure that they’re woven throughout my books. The hope is that somewhere, somehow, these ideas get out there and challenge folks. I’m much less interested in bench science and trying to test ideas and a lot more interested in opening up the throttle to go after what we know in a serious way.”

The School of Education is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.