10 Chapters
Medium 9781935542018

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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Medium 9781935542018

Nine Developing Curricula for Diversity

Ricardo L. Garcia Solution Tree Press ePub

Let us take up curricula that reflect diversity. The previous chapter explains broad-based strategies, but not the method for organizing specific content. Ideally, diverse materials, experiences, and activities permeate the teacher’s entire curriculum to assist students in learning about the self and the other. This chapter describes the following steps for building a unique curriculum rich with diverse experiences and activities:

 Understanding how knowledge is constructed

 Teaching about culture

 Using ethnic studies

 Selecting curriculum materials

 Fostering student-created curricula

 Involving parents and others in the curriculum

First, let’s define what is meant by curriculum.

A classroom is defined by teacher and student interactions. The qualities of these interactions are forged by the teacher’s academic leadership through a program of study (defined by state and school district curriculum guides) to which he or she has given a unique and personal twist. The unique touch is the teacher—what he or she teaches beyond academic standards and curriculum guides.

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Ten Building Community in Diverse Classrooms

Ricardo L. Garcia Solution Tree Press ePub

Diversity is a fact of life. Community is not. It must be envisioned, nurtured, and fostered to thrive. Schools are called upon to assist families in rearing children to live well. Bringing up children to live successfully in the greater community has been a shared responsibility for a very long time. More than a hundred years ago, Jane Addams wrote in Democracy and Social Ethics:

The democratic ideal demands of the school that it shall give the child’s own experience a social value; that it shall teach him to direct his activities and adjust them to those of other people. (1907, p. 180)

The adage “It takes a village to raise a child” rings true. In fact, schools are like village commons, the place in communal living where individuals pull together for the development of the self in conjunction with others. Each honors the rights of others so that others will honor hers or his. This is an old ideal, a social contract inherent in e pluribus unum.

In prior chapters, I focused on the intellectual development of students via instruction guided by three universal goals: (1) learning autonomy, (2) intellectual effectiveness, and (3) cultural efficacy. I examine those goals again in this chapter through the lens of socialization (social development), which is mainly “caught” rather than taught in daily classroom and school interactions. First, I examine the relationship between socialization and diversity; then I discuss the characteristics fundamental to a community, from which I make inferences for building community in the classroom. I conclude with a discussion of the school as a village commons.

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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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One What Is an American?

Ricardo L. Garcia Solution Tree Press ePub

Days used to amble by slowly in Colfax, Nebraska. Settled in 1901 by German refugees from Russia, the small town served surrounding farms for years, but with the industrialization of agriculture and decline of subsistence farming, families moved away. Colfax tottered on the verge of extinction until the Nebraska Meat Packing Corporation (NMP) established a plant there in 2001.

Then Colfax flourished. Every nook and cranny bustled. Cracking sidewalks and empty streets were suddenly full of people coming and going on sundry errands. Abandoned stores reopened, the weathered boards of shuttered display windows were removed, and new signs were painted, such as Carnicería, Tienda la Variedas, and Producios de Mexico y Centro America.

The new merchants and customers came from Mexico and Honduras, speaking Spanish and filling the schools with their children. Overnight, a sleepy, dying German American town transformed into a vibrant community—except now Spanish rather than German is heard on the sidewalks, in stores, the library, schools, and churches.

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