How do we incorporate the needs of all cultures in our schools?
I was recently tasked with writing a research paper that demonstrates the cultural uniqueness of two minority cultures in my area. Then I am to outline multicultural strategies designed to include their cultures in my classroom. When I presented the Finish culture I was told that they are not a minority, because they are "White." Finish people make up a small portion of the local population, and in respect to the populations of Michigan and the U.S. they are far outnumbered by many minority groups. How can we be truly eliminate bias in the classroom if we don't recognize all cultures equally?
Needs? I think you should use want instead. We can try to offer a cultures class to get everyone better acquainted with the differences between cultures. It seems quite amusing that they do not consider white a minority. We are becoming a minority but some still don't believe it.
The short answer is that we can't eliminate bias in the classroom if we don't recognize all cultures equally. The topic you raise is very complex. While multiculturalism is encouraged, even demanded, the truth is that each school, each classroom operates under a set of dynamics that (unless the students who make up the class, the school are representative of multi-cultures), then the educator's hands are somewhat tied to the unspoken rules of the community in which the school resides. The issue is more about entitlement than skin color. As long as there are those who can dictate the definition of minority, then there are those who get to choose what constitutes multiculturalism.
The way to reduce/eliminate "bias" is not to emphasize the differences between groups or cultures, but to emphasize all those things in which all human beings have in common. If some students have some "special need" because of their culture then that needs to be addressed, but I don't think incorporating addressing any such need into the mainstream classroom is the right way to go. (And, by the way, I'm not suggesting "special needs" as in 766/"Special Needs".)
Addressing such needs/issues separately (in a variety of possible ways) allows for more specialized/intense "addressing" for those who need it, while leaving the mainstream class to the more universal matters/issues serves both "non-cultural-special-needs" and "cultural-special-needs" students best.
I personally think there is way too much emphasis on "uniqueness." Not saying uniqueness isn't good - just saying there's too much EMPHASIS on it. I think it works best when you treat all of the students as human beings, not as unique and "different" just because of the culture they come from. Especially in the classroom. I realize the benefit of maintaining the customs and language of one's homeland, but when we single kids out too much to try to "meet their cultural needs" it can backfire because we're trying to help make them feel included, but we may be doing exactly the opposite. When singled out, they feel singled out. Kids generally want to feel a part of the group. Don't get me wrong. When I say we should treat them equally, that doesn't mean we should ignore their differences as if they don't exist. There's no shame in being different, and when a situation comes up where the difference may be inescapable and noticeable, we treat them with respect. At times we can use these situations as a teaching moment (e.g. - a geography or sociology lesson, or whatever). But if we point out their differences too much, that is self-defeating and might even increase the bias.
I am an ESL tutor/ teacher's aide in a mostly Caucasian school, but we've had a pretty big influx of Latinos (mostly Guatemalans) into the area over the last couple of decades. I've also come across a few Orientals and other nationalities once in awhile. The grades I work with are 3rd-5th. Often I'll take a group of the ESL kids out to work with them separately, but depending on how important the material is that the teacher is presenting at that point in time, I may stay in the classroom and just help where needed (I don't limit myself to the ESL students, either, but generally treat all the kiddos the same). When in the classroom, I try to keep an eye on "my" kids without disrupting the class. If one looks confused, I quietly wander over and help to point them in the right direction or take them aside where I can give them my undivided attention to help them catch up. In our school, I don't notice much of a problem with the cultural differences - at least, not with the young kids. They are amazingly accepting of each other. I can't speak for all schools, of course.
Schools need to focus on the American Citizen Society, not a multicultural bias that is being permeated today. The desire to identify a uniqueness of cultures implies a structured codification of an oblique temperament that does not exist within the American Citizen that patriotically support the nation.
I believe that such classification is the very structure that produces Gang patterns within the community as prejudiced people spread an unfavorable opinion, feeling, thought, or reason for implying differences.
Truthful Americans are not different - they are joined in positive support for the nation. However, due to the radical corruption displayed by the education system and many political components, Within the educational classification structure, America's youth are destined for Gang membership that results in a short lifetime. The Nazi's began to classify multicultural differences in the late 30's by attempting to identify a superior race. In today's educational system, the use of multicultural reference is achieving the same result.
There is no need to identify oneself as a multicultural human or a single cultural human. I have lived and visited many countries with cultures much different than my own. In each of these, I became friends with local individuals through truthful harmonious outreach.
I also find the same thing true with the current community outreach in my current USA community. I do not live next to a Black-American, African-American, Mexican-American, British-American, Aussie-American, Polish-American, German-American, Russian-American, Irish-American, Swedish-American, Dutch-American, etc. As a proud American, I find it offensive that anyone desires to be anything more than an American. The USA was not created to classify individuals but to declassify them. When the youth of today recognize this principle, the USA will return to the status of the greatest country in the world.
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