10 Chapters
Medium 9781935542018

Four Honoring Culture and Self-Identity

Ricardo L. Garcia Solution Tree Press ePub

As students pass through classrooms each year, teachers have a limited amount of time to learn their names, discover who they are, and ideally, teach them something of value. Given the immense diversity of students and cultures, the task of truly understanding each and every student’s culture is daunting, much less the unique characteristics of each student beyond culture. How, then, can teachers hope to identify and understand the diversity issues that arise in the teaching of students from many backgrounds? Moreover, having made these necessary discoveries, how can teachers help their diverse students understand similar issues as they make their way in the world?

To answer these questions I propose two essential attitudes for teachers. First, it is important for teachers to acknowledge—and work to understand—manifestations of human difference. Second, as part of such acknowledgment, teachers must know themselves well and come to terms with their attitudes toward human differences, recognizing their preferences, biases, and prejudices. To these ends, this chapter provides a nuanced explanation of human diversity in terms of culture and self-identity regarding issues such as race and ethnicity; sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation; English proficiency; and learning style preferences.

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Medium 9781935542018

Five Reducing Prejudice

Ricardo L. Garcia Solution Tree Press ePub

In culture, as in biology, diversity is essential for survival. Diversity is also ambiguous: cultural values, beliefs, and attitudes are ever changing, conserving, and adapting. Often, the only certainty is uncertainty. Culture ameliorates the tension between uncertainty and stability. In every culture, members must decide what to change and what to conserve. Rapid changes can be destabilizing, as in political revolutions that sometimes have undesirable ramifications. Excessive resistance to change can be oppressive and stifling to growth, as we see in countries ruled by dictatorships. Consequently, the price of healthy cultural survival is eternal vigilance to protect the balance between change and conservation. When this balance is upset—when a group feels its stability is threatened by contact with difference—the result can be prejudice.

This chapter opens with an examination of how culture influences perceptions of difference and the difficulty in describing difference without stereotyping. Next, it explores the origins of prejudice, prejudice reduction theories, and how educators can take a balanced approach to acknowledging and teaching about difference.

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Medium 9781935542018

Eight Linking Goals and Instructional Strategies

Ricardo L. Garcia Solution Tree Press ePub

Having laid a foundation for instruction that accommodates diversity, I now turn to specific instructional strategies that are aligned with the goals of universal education:

 Fostering learning autonomy via self-discipline

 Fostering intellectual effectiveness via critical thinking

 Fostering cultural efficacy via cross-cultural interaction

While I will treat these areas separately, it should be clear they overlap and interconnect. The strategies are intended to provide teachers a way to weave their role as learning-enabler into the fabric of instruction.

As previous chapters have discussed, successful living in a free society requires individuals willing and able to think and do for themselves. In school, students should be willing and able to take responsibility for learning. Most students learn autonomy and self-discipline at home and in the early grades, but some do not. Teachers can facilitate this development by enabling students to manage their own behavior.

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Seven Teacher as Learning-Enabler

Ricardo L. Garcia Solution Tree Press ePub

The adage “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish, and he will never go hungry” aptly captures the spirit of this chapter. Students may finish twelve grades and graduate, but are they viable individuals able to sustain a good life? Teachers should do more than help students pass a particular class or test. They should strive to facilitate the intellectual development of all their students. The aim is empowerment of students to think for themselves, construct knowledge, make meaning, and learn respect for themselves and others.

This chapter provides an overview of the changing roles teachers play; it contrasts constructivist and naturalistic education to clarify the changes to the roles. Then it summarizes the work of three noted scholars—Maria Montessori, John Dewey, and Paulo Freire—who strived to fuse the roles of teacher-as-giver and teacher-as-enabler.

Students learn through experiences, both planned and unplanned. Most societies do not leave the education of youth solely to unplanned, chance experiences but rather provide formal, planned experiences to transmit valued knowledge, skills, and beliefs, mainly through schools. Formal education assumes that knowledge brings power—that having knowledge leads directly to accomplishments. However, knowing something is one thing; using knowledge toward meaningful ends is another.

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Three Universal Education for a Free Society

Ricardo L. Garcia Solution Tree Press ePub

Prior to the formation of the United States, and for a while afterward, education was a privilege for the wealthy who could afford to hire teachers to instruct their youth. Today publicly funded K–12 schooling is provided for all. Education is an absolute necessity for a democratic, free society, and a state-controlled public education is the epitome of a democracy. The citizens as a community pool their taxes and revenues to fund the schools. The citizens also elect the officials who manage the schools and set curriculum and teaching standards without intervention of the federal government, except in the instances when the state system is not in compliance with the U.S. Constitution, which government agencies must comply with to provide equal protection of the law to all citizens. (See chapter 6 for a discussion about the policy of equal educational opportunity). In broad strokes, this chapter explores the establishment of universal public education in the United States, its rationale, and its goals.

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