Before reading the Almasi article entitled "A New View of Discussion," I would answer the question of diversity in a very generic way; I could learn about the diversity in my classroom by simply getting to know the students and learning about their lives outside of school (family, hobbies, activities, etc.). What I would have failed to mention, however, would be exactly how that process would take place - the questions still stands: how would I get to know the students to this extent? Almasi's article on how discussions between students and teacher (or rather, students and students) serves to answer this particular "how" question. The author suggests that as "participants gather in a social context to exchange thoughts, new understandings and meanings may emerge as participants interact with one another." (p. 91) In other words, when an authentic discussion takes place within a classroom (authentic meaning no IRE methods or recitation, of course), children will learn in an authentic way, propelling their own discussions by minimal direct interaction with the teacher.
The benefit here to me, then, is that I can figure out how my students are thinking through listening to their discussion and even view how their diverse backgrounds impact their learning. It is as if they learn right before my eyes in their own ways; indeed, I would submit that seeing how a child learns (based on diverse thought processes and backgrounds) is the basis for truly getting to know them as a whole.