Sunday, January 31, 2010

Examining Cultural Differences in the classroom

After reading the Dong article, I really do understand where she's coming from. There needs to be cross cultural literature in the classroom. It's very important to start implementing this into curriculums because if not then we aren't preparing students for the real world. Students aren't necessarily going to need to know what type of narrator the story has or where the climax and rising actions are when they go into the real world. I mean these things can be learned by someone who has ever read a book or watched a movie. All you have to do is ask them when the main conflict reached the breaking point and that's the climax, or what caused the conflict to reach the breaking point and that's rising action. They know these things even though they may not know the technical terms. But what the students do need to know is how to be aware of different cultures and things that are going on around them. Students need to be aware of what is going on outside in the real world that isn't the classroom. When it comes down to it, everyone knows that the classroom isn't the real world. There are things that go on in school like discrimination and racism, but these instances are almost never as serious in the classroom as they are in the real world.

With that being said, as teachers we need to make sure that we prepare the students for what they are going to encounter in the real world. They experience doses of discrimination at school, but that's in a setting where hopefully the school and it's staff will help to remedy the situation. There aren't always going to be people there to stop these things from happening and it's important to make sure that the people who are the ones discriminating and the ones who are being discriminated against know how to fix the situation when their parents or other prominent figures in either culture might not encourage a healthy appreciation for someone else's culture. By encouraging discussions and showing that there are ways that conflict can be resolved without it turning into something serious, we can show students that things can be remedied even when others say there is no remedy for a problem. Just as the teachers in the article expressed, a discussion in a healthy environment can make people more aware and even show them that they are participating in things like discrimination and racism without ever meaning to. I think that the overall goal is to make students more aware of other cultures so that they can appreciate those differences and they can learn that there is a way that we can share each others cultures without losing our own. I think that the main people who need to understand this are European-Americans. They don't realize that there are things that they could never understand unless the actually listen to the accounts of people who have been through it. By encouraging experiences with other cultures then we can show that it is possible for people to coexist without all of this conflict.

I definitely thought about what some of the responses were saying about culture and the author writing in particular dialects, because I encountered this in Esperanza Rising. The author reminded us that we were the outsiders because at times we didn't know the language and I think that becoming the outsider, even just for the duration of the book, is a good way to help students empathize with people of different cultures. We also see instances of this with Copper Sun too. The white people were portrayed as the bad guys, and that makes Caucasians aware that there are things that our race has done to harm others. We aren't necessarily responsible for things that our race took part in, but we definitely have a responsibility now to try and understand what happened and how we can work together with the cultures that were wronged to fix things. If we can do this by encouraging discussions about cross-cultural literature, then we are on the right track to doing our part. Even teachers who don't understand why they have to do this or what the purpose of this is can learn to understand that this is very helpful. The teachers in the article that had misgivings about teaching these things eventually learned that they weren't crossing a line in doing this. They were simply encouraging students to take part in their culture and be proud of where they are from. The teachers realized that they weren't taking part in any form of discrimination by bringing these issues into the classroom and all teachers can benefit from what the article had to say. If we can implement students cultures into our readings in the right way, then it is definitely a healthy experience that needs to happen.

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