10 Chapters
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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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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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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Two Diversity in a Free Society

Ricardo L. Garcia Solution Tree Press ePub

We return to Veronica and her question, “What is an American?” The legal answer is easy. The philosophical answer is more difficult because it goes to state of mind, feelings, and allegiance. Those allowed to enter the United States serve to define the American character and will influence what the nation becomes. New arrivals bring their cultures and languages and attempt to preserve the best of their own while adopting the best the United States has to offer. In this chapter, we continue to examine American society by analyzing how 20th century immigration shaped the United States. We then examine the intersection of human diversity and national unity, religious diversity, and their impact on the development of the American educational system.

Despite the 20th century shift toward inclusion described in the last chapter, ambivalence toward immigrants persists in subtle and not-so-subtle forms (Murillo, 2002). Some cities create ordinances that forbid landlords to rent to undocumented individuals; elsewhere, illegal vigilante patrols round up people crossing the desert along the Mexican and American borders. This ambivalence is symptomatic of concern about what it means to be an American and who should be considered American.

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Six Understanding the Achievement Gap

Ricardo L. Garcia Solution Tree Press ePub

Up to this point we have examined various cultural and educational factors to establish a basis for identifying and understanding diversity in the classroom. Lest we forget, students are more alike than they are different. In the main, we should think of them as individuals rather than members of a group. Yet group affiliations influence individuals, students, and teachers alike. At times, we should acknowledge group differences in order to provide all students an equal opportunity to learn. This chapter explores the impact of sociocultural factors such as poverty, race and ethnicity, English language proficiency, gender, and sexual orientation. While none of these factors will “fate” a student for high or low achievement, the achievement gap between various groups is real. Understanding the impact of these factors is the first step to ameliorating any difficulties students may experience. The chapter also discusses the policy of equal educational opportunity as a strategy for accommodating group and individual differences.

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