EMAT 3450: CTL Essay
Contextual teaching and learning in mathematics is an important part of the learning process and should be understood through a wide range of focus. There are many aspects of contextual teaching and learning that need to be measured to fully understand the capability involved in using CTL in the classroom. I feel that the calming
ti is widely affected by the use of CTL and should be understood by the teacher attempting to use this tool in their classroom. When teaching from a CTL perspective, it is important to know the relationship between the school and the community, as well as the students themselves and the community. As the Giroux excerpt included, Teachers must assume a pedagogical responsibility for attempting to understand the relationships and forces the influence their students outside of the immediate context of the classroom. The more a teacher includes in their strategy and teaching method of CTL involving the history, and background of a students community, the more a student can relate to some of their own experiences and beliefs. By doing this, students may be able to generalize concepts and ideas better using a different approach rather than memorization. Thus, if a teacher can incorporate CTL into their pedagogical practice, the more effective the learning process may become, as well as the understanding of mathematics in a context relative to the students.
Knowing the setting in the community a student comes from is also related to the idea above. Lisa Delpit refers to many multicultural situations, for which it is useful for the teacher to understand and relate to a student outside the classroom so that they may conform to their needs and abilities. The idea of teaching less rather than teaching more was also very interesting in itself. So much controversy over teachers not teaching enough or even being lazy, but little do these people know who are developing this kind of reaction, some teachers are making an attempt at trying to bring learning into context, and use actual abilities of the students to structure their lessons. I feel that this has a lot to do with so much of the controversy, the older generation was used to the isolated, decontextualized approach to teaching, and are unruly to the concept of CTL in the classroom.
I also believe that CTL can make it easier for teachers to bring learning to a more diverse group of students. Throughout the Delpit chapter, there were references to relating teaching to multicultural classroom, an I feel there is no better way to do this, than using CTL to illustrate different concepts and ideas. The reason for this I think, is because it is easier to manipulate the CTL approach so that it conforms to the majority of the classroom in question. With a more standard and isolated approach, it is harder to relate to a certain students ability, especially if there is a language and cultural barrier between the student and the teacher. There was also the idea of multicultural curricula, which would help educate students on the different perspectives of the diverse classroom. This would help in context to CTL, by helping the students better understand each other, so that they may work more openly and freely with their peers. No matter how culturally diverse a group of students may be, or even how underprivileged a group may be, I feel CTL is able to conform to the needs and strengths of each individual student, so that as a community, they are able to grow stronger in the learning process.
I felt that the two readings had some interesting issues. The community was a large part of the two, which I feel is the most important when discussing teaching from a CTL perspective. Many communities today are multicultural, and by taking into consideration what changes can be made to involve each and every student, I feel it is best suited for teaching and using the CTL approach.
In reaction to the Giroux excerpt and Lisa Delpit's "Other People's Children," I personally am up in the air about many of the statements made. First of all, in the Giroux excerpt, I found the language extremely ambiguous. I understood that the subject was meant to be the importance of student voice in the classroom, but I did not find the article itself to be extremely informative from a teacher's prospective. I do agree that the concept of voice provides a basis for creating and demonstrating the fundamental backbone for a strong democracy in our country, and it is important for students, to an extent, to freely speak their minds and not feel intimidated.
Although a student's voice is unique and extremely powerful, I am not sure that I agree with the statement, "the dominant school culture generally represents and legitimates the voices of white males from middle and upper classes to the exclusion of economically disadvantaged students, most especially females from minority backgrounds" (Giroux 324). For grade school, I attended a magnet school in Connecticut, and believed that from my personal experiences that this was not the case at all. Therefore, I can see that for certain teachers and schools this statement may be true, depending on the teacher and his or her background, but I can believe that this stereotype can also be altered easily.
On the other hand, I do believe that this article does have implications for CTL in mathematics for a number of reasons. I believe that for a student's voice to be heard, that the learning that takes place in the classroom needs to be student-centered. Also, I believe that for the statement that "teachers need to develop pedagogical practices that link student experiences with those aspects of community life that inform and sustain such experiences" (Giroux 325), has important implications for CTL because it brings in aspects of the student's community. The examples that the reading gave though were difficult for me to understand the connection, and I would have liked for the article to mention more concrete examples.
In reaction to Delpit's "Other People's Children," I believe that there were only good intentions in writing this article, but as a future teacher in the classroom, I did not agree with many of the suggestions. These readings caused me to believe that in a class of 30 children for instance, that I was supposed to be able to teach 30 different ways, catering to the individual needs of every student in the classroom. I understand that studies have shown that students with various backgrounds learn many different ways and understand instructions differently, but I do not believe that it is physically possible to help each student in every situation. Culture cannot be ignored and should not be, but it is not possible for every situation in the classroom to focus on culture either.
Aside from thoughts on the article in general, I do believe that a few examples given were important for teachers to understand. First, the statement that African-American boys "exhibit a high degree of physicality and desire for interaction" (Delpit 168) caused me to think that these students would work well in a CTL classroom where there are more hands-on activities and a greater focus on student-centered learning. On the other hand, the statement was also brought up that African-American students are usually given instructions that are much more strict at home, but I do not believe that when teachers give instructions to a class that they would say "Would you like to sit down now and finish you paper?" (Delpit 168) to some students and then would yell at others.
For my last example, I wanted to mention the story about the African-American girl who spoke out in a nonstandard form of English in the classroom. I realize that many authors today use this type of dialogue in their works, but on the other hand, this student was in second grade and would not have realized the implications of her statement. Every student that attends grade school is taught in English class the standard form of English, and to "get by" in today's society at any job, standard English is what's important. Therefore, although this student knew the correct form of standard English, she was just expressing the way that she was taught at home, so she shouldn't have been penalized.
Lastly, I think that culture is important, but that it is not humanly possible to teach 30 different ways to 30 different students. The examples given in the Delpit article are helpful to think about and be aware of in a classroom setting, but every individual situation depends on the teacher and the class as a whole. The importance of the community, strongly emphasized in the CTL classroom, helps to tie culture into the classroom as well. Also, when the learning is student-centered, more hands-on, and geared more towards the lives of the students, I believe that everyone in the class benefits.
Both Other PeopleÕs Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom by Lisa Delpit and Breaking Free by Giroux and McLaren address the problem of including cultural aspects in the classroom. The main point of DelpitÕs writing is that "knowledge about culture is but one tool that educators may make use of when devising solutions for a schoolÕs difficulty in educating diverse children" (167). This sentence accurately reflects the visions of both writings. From these articles, I learned how much contextual teaching and learning can help to encompass culture in the classroomÕs academic setting.
When "school culture and home culture" do not coincide, a teacher can easily misunderstand a studentÕs abilities and fail to teach the student in the best manner possible (Delpit 167). Granted, cultural inclusion can be a difficult task to accomplish when not every student in the classroom comes from a similar cultural background. For instance, Other PeopleÕs Children notes that "there is a widespread belief that Asian-American children are the ÔperfectÕ students, that they will do well regardless of the academic setting in which they are placed" (170). This stereotype often is applied to any and all students who perform well on tests or are labeled "gifted." As a result, these students are overlooked and ignored in classes teaching every subject area. Consequently, a student who only does well in math but is labeled "smart" is forgotten about in his English class and fails to live up to expectations in the subject area in which he does not excel.
As another example, "children who may be gifted in real-life settings are often at a loss when asked to exhibit knowledge solely through decontextualized paper-and-pencil exercises" (Delpit 173). This problem is especially evident in a math class. Students who are "street smart" can understand a math word problem which asks them how much total money they will spend to ride the city bus six times if the cost for one ride is $1.75. However, these same students can have difficulty with a straightforward math problem for 6 * 1.75. Contextual teaching would greatly benefit this type of learner.
The main way to encompass culture into the classroom is to form a bond between the community and the school. By doing so, "teachers can open up their classrooms to [the communityÕs] diverse resources and traditions" (Giroux 324). A major way to do this is to bring parents and community members into the classroom to relate their daily lives or traditions to the subject matter being studied at the time. Field trips into the community also can encompass culture into the context of the subject matter. For instance, when studying geometry, students could take a field trip to a local park to observe angles formed between the slide and the ladder and parallel lines formed by the handles of the monkey bars. Teachers could also invite parents to after school meetings to discuss the parentsÕ "concerns about education . . ., what they feel schools are doing well or poorly for their children, and how they would like to see schooling changed" (Delpit 179). Especially at the high school level, parents have less and less interaction with their childÕs academic life, but these meetings would facilitate a bond between parents and schools.
Teacher education also should include more preparation for the cultural interactions teachers should have with a community surrounding the school. Our contextual teaching and learning class is a great method for preparing teachers to include the community in the mathematics subject matter. Perhaps another point at which this community interaction should be addressed is in the Foundations of Education class (EFND 2030) which every College of Education undergraduate at UGA must take. This class does an excellent job of stereotyping which socioeconomic backgrounds are "at risk" in a classroom. However, this class does not address different methods which can be used to enhance a certain childÕs learning with regards to his socioeconomic background. Encompassing this type of learning into the Foundations of Education class would ensure that every prospective teacher is exposed to a broad understanding of contextual teaching and learning. Subject-centered classes such as Contextual Teaching and Learning in Mathematics would pinpoint different approaches a teacher could make with regards to her specific subject matter.
Both Other PeopleÕs Children and Breaking Free highlight different approaches which are necessary in schools in order to meet the needs of as many students as possible. It is almost impossible to meet the academic needs of every student. However, many schools have a long way to go before they can profess to meet the needs of even a majority of the students in their care. It should be a standard for teachers to include the outside community into academic subject matter, not an exception.
Reflection on "Other PeopleÕs Children" By Lisa Delpit
Within these readings I found many ways in which I could enhance community in the classroom. For example, Lisa Delpit writes, "If we plan to survive as species on this planet we must certainly create multicultural curricula that educate our children to the differing perspectives of our diverse population." This quote is a very exaggerated one, but I do agree that we need to create a curriculum that focuses on more than just the Anglo-Saxon, white-Protestant. I know when I was in grade school through high school, the primary focus of our study was mainly on the Anglo-Saxon, white-Protestant hero. I am sure these focuses make the other cultures feel inadequate because there were people of their culture who were heroes too. This article really put this idea into focus. As far as mathematics goes, when I teach, I could research to find out what mathematicians of all cultures promoted to the study. If students realize that all cultures have contributed to mathematics, then they may be more willing to study the subject.
Another good point Lisa Delprit made was, "If we do not have some knowledge of childrenÕs lives outside of the realms of paper-and-pencil work, and even outside of their classrooms, then we cannot know their strengths." This statement is very true. Many times teachers do not know what the home life of a student is; therefore, they miss out on knowing the ability of the student. For example, when I was in high school, there was a student in my math class who slept everyday while the teacher lectured. We just thought that he did not understand and was unmotivated to try. Well, it turns out, he went on to college and has been making straight AÕs ever since. Our conclusions of him as a student were wrong, and if the truth were known, he probably had issues at home that deterred him from being his best in class.
There were many points in this article to which I disagreed with. For example, when Lisa Dulprit referred to the reason why the African-American acts disobedient is probably because he cannot relate to the material, I believe this to be, in part, inaccurate. I disagree with this assumption because there are many white students who are just as, or more, disobedient. I do not believe one can account disobedience to this idea. Even so, I feel that the African-American, or anyone for that matter, should not be excused for their disobedience just because the material they are being taught does not reflect their culture. If a white person were in a primarily African-American school, it would not be an excuse for them to be disobedient either.
An impression I got from this article was that we, as teachers, should vary our classroom to satisfy all of the different cultures. I do believe we need to be sensitive to all of the different cultures in the classroom, but I do not believe that our classroom should be altered in several different ways to satisfy each culture. I believe that if the classroom were divided into different cultures, where I had to teach each group in a different way, then there would be a lack of unity within the classroom. Lisa Dulprit refers to a quote: " I donÕt see color, I only see children." I know the discussion in the article was against this quote, but this is how I live my life. When I talk to someone, I do not pay attention to what color they are, but to whom they are inside. If I see that their culture is illuminated throughout their personality, then I become sensitive to that. The point is that I do not make assumptions about the person I am talking to without finding out who they are. So essentially, I do not pay attention to the color of their skin.
Underneath this article is a good point of diversifying our classrooms, and making sure we, as teachers, try to be sensitive to, and understand, the community in which our students live day to day. I agree with this wholly, and believe as teachers, this should be a goal. If teachers work hard at trying to make their students relate to the material more, and if they work hard trying to make the classroom a community, then I believe students will get more out of school.
Reflections from class readings: Culture and Teaching
While I do agree with the article to some extent, I also disagree with the article. I agree that most teachers do stereotype their students, that the black or Hispanic students do worse then the while students, or they talk more, etc. However, when Linda spoke of getting to know each of the students for who they are instead of color I think that would make a big difference in the way they act in class.
When a teacher has a preconceived notion of how a particular group of students is going to act, they can usually sense that and act that way. However, if the students notice that the teacher is making an effort to get to know them individually and treat them all fairly then they can sense that too and they may not seem to act in the stereotypical manner.
I believe that it all depends on how the teacher approaches the students is the way the students will act. For example, if you treat someone with respect they are more likely to treat you back with respect. I am not sure how I would feel about house visits like those that Beth did. The visit Beth went on seemed to help, but I believe in some cases it would do more bad than good. Many students would not like a teacher showing up at their house for no reason, especially high school students. Maybe it worked out well because they were dealing with a younger group of students.
Response to "Other People's Children" and "Breaking Free"
"The United States is surely composed of a plethora of perspectives" (Delphi 176). So who is right when it comes to education? My immediate reaction to this reading is to call it an abundance of lofty nonsense, but I'm certainly not above recognizing many valid points nor am I exclaiming that I've got all the answers. Where I agree with this reading is the responsibility of the teacher to be involved or at least knowledgeable about the cultural context of their students.
While I am extremely resistant to any emphasis on cultural sensitivity it would be na•ve not to recognize that cultural differences are a real part of our schools. The danger in building our schools on the foundation of cultural sensitivity is that we resultantly lose the foundation of education. We in essence create a "feel good about yourself" day care for students rather than an institute of knowledge. Rather, cultural difference should be viewed as a vehicle for learning. In "Breaking Free" the author states that "by creating active links with the community, teachers can open up their classrooms to its diverse resources and traditions." Furthermore, "this presupposes that teachers familiarize themselves with the culture, economy, and historical traditions that belong to the surrounding community" (324). Not only are culture and community an incredible resource of knowledge, but they are also a means for us as teachers to recognize the different styles and strengths of our students. Part of recognizing cultural diversity is realizing that no two students can be expected to learn in the exact same way with the exact same understanding. Gaining this knowledge of culture offer teachers a tremendous opportunity to place higher/attainable goals for all their students.
The fact that I am pursuing a career in mathematics education helps me create a greater divide between cultural sensitivity and education. With math it might be easier as a teacher to set specific educational goals and use cultural knowledge as a tool. In other areas of study or even at the elementary level where social education can be even more prevalent these educational goals might become more easily blurred. However, I remain in my belief that we must entrust our schools with intellectual responsibilities above parental/social responsibilities.
If our focus is only on who this cultural group does this while this other group is treated like this, then we will surely find ourselves in the position where the only solution is to segregate everyone. But history tells us that this very idea is preposterous. So what then do we do to prevent this from happening? We must realize that what we know as the modern education system is quickly becoming the postmodern education system. Everyone is now an individual with individual goals, ideas, and guidelines of right and wrong. Our advantage in this shift of thinking is that unlike the majority of inservice teachers, we are part of this postmodern generation. Our students thoughts will be like our own. But we cannot use this perspective to our advantage until we take the time to see the importance of unity and not always diversity. In the mathematics classroom unity will be of the important math. What should my students learn about math by the end of this week, semester, year? The unity for education is that we educate students and not just monitor their social development. The function of schools should rest in the teaching of communication skills in reading, writing, and mathematics. These are the essential tools for our students need to be socially active in their own culture and community. They need these tools so that they can then make informed decisions about themselves and those around them. These tools are essential for successful democracy.
These readings have given me much insight into how I think about cultural diversity and the weight I place on recognizing diversity in the classroom. I hope that I can build a classroom of students that see color, race, gender, and social differences and who shares with each other their strengths and rich cultural knowledge. But most of all I want them to see that despite all their differences, that we are all impacted by mathematics. Response to "Race, Retrenchment, and the Reform of School Mathematics"
How does this article speak to you about CTL teaching and learning in mathematics? What stands out for you when you read this article as it relates to CTL teaching and learning in mathematics?
This article begins with a clear objective " to discuss the importance of connecting the pedagogy of mathematics to the lives and experiences of African American students, therefore enabling them to take part fully in our democracy" (p. 477). This immediately tells me that Tate believes that the central purpose of education is to produce "good" citizens. He stresses that it is through mathematics that we encounter critical thinking, decision making, and like essential ideas that are characteristic to our democratic society. Taking these ideas and considering that the purpose of all education is to promote democracy, I think we can begin to formulate some ideas about CTL and how best to incorporate CTL in a mathematics classroom.
Tate believes that the first aim of any kind of CTL pedagogy is to target those African-American or other nonwhite middle class (male) students so that the mathematics will first and foremost me culturally appropriate for their maximum understanding. He boasts that this method will surely create equitable conditions in the classroom (p. 478). I agree that CTL by definition should be culturally equitable, but it is unwise and undemocratic to leave anyone from specific attention. That is, if we favor one student because they are traditionally looked over we must do so in full awareness that focusing attention on anyone means diverting it from another.
As for CTL, I think Tate mentions many valid notions of CTL and its purpose as democracy-building even if I do not agree with his "logic" in coming to his conclusion. He states that "conventional pedagogy has often persuaded studentsÉto consider mathematics as a subject divorced from their everyday experiences and from their attempts to make sense of their world" (p. 478). This shows us how important it is to view mathematics as an experience, because every one (white or black) is saturated in mathematics everyday. I think one way to avoid emphasizing only the majority/minority cultural experience would be to model the mathematics classroom as a discussion. The role of the teacher then is to present the mathematics, to expose students to the facts about numbers. Then, the teacher can become moderator as s/he leads the students in a discussion for mathematical discovery. The students can then submit their own experiences and relate themselves to the problems. Not only will this provide a democratic forum for every students ideas and opinions, but it will also ensure that the students really understand the mathematics. They are able to translate the facts to their experiences.
Actually the more I consider this method of CTL the more I am growing favorable to it. Of course, the teacher must be ready and willing to submit his/her own experiences to in order to engage students in debate. But this is a process that the students could quickly grow accustomed to. Are these not the skills that want the students to gain from mathematics so they will be "good" democratic citizens?
The main idea involved with these articles is that when teaching one should consider the background of a student. They talked about the fact that how a studentÕs setting at home could be related to their education. As far at CTL prospects in mathematics, I agree that one should take in to account the studentÕs involvement at home and relate it to their education in school. The example that the reading gave was about a boy who could not do simple worksheet on math but was able to go shop on his own and buy groceries for the whole family. If this childÕs education were centered more towards a CTL viewpoint, he would have probably done better than the whole class, because of the fact that he was able to relate back to his life experiences.
These reading made me realize how math is taught in our schools. The fact that students do not relate math to their everyday setting, is a concern for me. The way I learned math was to relate to something out in the real world. We should teach our student how to do that so they will have a better understanding of the concepts involved with math. Math cannot just me taught in worksheets and problems in needs to be related back to the students and showing they how it applies to their life one way or another. Teachers should consider the community that these students are from and relate that math back to their community. This would allow students to understand what math is and how it can be applied. The fact that education of math does not involve the students connecting it back to their everyday lives is very disappointing to me.
Upon completing the assigned readings, the first thing I would like to reflect on is the implications these readings has for CTL in math. First I would like to address the Giroux excerpt. In this excerpt is states: "Teachers need to develop pedagogical practices that link student experiences with those aspects of community life that inform and sustain such experiences." One mathematical content area I think this really applies to is word problems. As a teacher we should develop word problems that encompass experiences of every student in the classroom. I am not sure if any one topic would be good to do this, but you could use several different problems to connect with all the children. By relating to what students know you do not alienate certain ones, and you can truly see what math content they know instead of if they understand what the problem is stating. The statement in this excerpt that discusses connecting with active community agencies also applies to mathematics. If you make connections with these agencies that the students see everyday, they may more readily acknowledge the connections these agencies have with math and how they use math in their agencies. Since these children see these agencies everyday hopefully they will make a strong connection with the math being taught in the classroom and how it is used in the real world. The Delpit chapter confirms what was said in the Giroux excerpt about linking what is taught to the studentÕs background and culture outside of the classroom. In this chapter they refer to black students and Hispanic students as the ones losing due to the lack of connection between school culture and their own culture. But I also think if we focus too much on these "minority" students, we will forget the white students and they will then be the ones who do not see the connections between what is taught in the classroom and what is going on in real life.
Now I would like to turn to the question of what in these readings I agreed with, and why I did. I defiantly agree that our methods of assessing students may show some students to be incompetent, when in actuality they do not understand what is being asked because they do not identify with the question. These questions certainly put "minority" students at a disadvantage. To correct this, we would have to stay away from making all our questions geared towards whites and their experiences. This will be a tough task though since standardized tests, such as the SAT, have all of their questions geared to whites, and we, as teachers, should make sure our students are prepared for the questions they will see on these tests. After all, it is these tests that determine their future educational careers. I also agree that teachers should remember individuals and cannot be made to fit into preconceived notion of how they should act. No matter if the student is new to a school, or this is their fourth year in the school, teachers should not judge a student by how they thing they are going to behave. What I am saying is that if a teacher has read a student's record and sees that that student has been a "troublemaker" in previous classes, they should not automatically assume the student will be the same way in their classroom. I think this is especially true in a high school setting because students are going through puberty and are maturing. Thus they may be completely different from one year to the next. Assuming a student will be a certain way just because of what you have read or heard about them will disadvantage that student. Similarly, you should not think that a student who has done a wonderful job academically and behaviorally in previous years would do the same in your class. You never know what that student may be facing at home, and how those situations may affect their school activities. One example would be if a studentÕs parents go through a divorce. This will place a large amount of stress on the student and may cause them to not perform as well academically as in previous years. This may also cause studentÕs behavior to change in a classroom. Another thing I agreed with was the part where the student did not use Standard English in their essay because they were trying to describe their character very adequately. I always wondered why I could not use language that I heard everyday to describe a character that was suppose to be similar to what I saw in my everyday life. I belief students should be able to express their selves through their culture, and what they experience everyday.
Now I will turn to things I did not agree with. The first thing that I was opposed to was the statement about creating separate schools for black males because they were "misunderstood" in traditional public schools. They were discussing how the studentÕs language and other they had learned from their own culture was inhibiting in the classroom. But I firmly believe that the subjects we teach may be the most unimportant thing we teach our students. If we want to or not, we are going to teach our students values and impose on them our beliefs. I also think one of the most important things we should teach our students is how to succeed later in life. I do not oppose students using their dialects and actions when around friends and in informal circumstances. But later in life, students will face situations where proper grammar and idiosyncrasies are called for. They will need to act in these ways at more formal occasions such as job interviews, jobs, and such. For this reason, I believe it is important that we teach all students, regardless of race, gender, or creed, what is proper in certain situations, and when it is okay to use our informal mannerisms. This is also one reason I hate to hear a student who is corrected in a math class for using improper grammar to state; "This ainÕt no English Class." I feel it is the responsibility of all teachers to prepare all students for what they may incur in the future. That was what I was really opposed to in these readings.
Finally I would like to address the question of how these readings impact my thinking about mathematics teaching and learning. Since I come from a base town, I have seen, and attended school with, a very diverse group of students. I have been able to observe how different teachers teach these diverse students and cater to their individual needs. For this reason, I do not think these readings contained any landmark revelations for me. I also think that no matter how much I read, I will never really know how to react to situations such as these until I actually experience them for myself. Therefore, I do not think these readings really had much of an impact on my thinking about mathematics teaching and learning.
EMAT 3450: Reflective Essay
Both of these articles, "Student Voice and the Public Sphere," and "Other Peoples Children" brought up some interesting ideas about culture in the classroom. The shorter article, "Student Voice and the Public Sphere" pointed out that a students voice represents the was they express themselves to a "affirm their own class, cultural, racial, and gender identities." I think this voice can also bring attention to social problems, and in a high school classroom, this voice can be used to speak on issues of drugs, sex, and poverty that teens have to face everyday. The more I read on the topics of culture in the classroom, I realize how much family involvement, and teacher interest in the students life and well being is to the achievement of the student. However, I believe that culture is still really thought of as a "family thing" where the teacher is continually trying to understand the household and traditions from which the student comes. However, I think that the teacher also has to realize that each generation of students is different, and that culture not only comes from the household, but also from the social pressures they must continuously face.
I think that teachers need to open their hearts and minds to see and appreciate the differences of each student. Therefore, they should "familiarize themselves with the culture, economy, and historical traditions that belong to the surrounding community." I really support the statement in this article that says that teachers must become more aware of the "oppression of the community-at-large" and use teaching strategies that "empower their students to create a more liberating humane society." Teaching should be about conveying the purpose of the curriculum in ways that make learning meaningful to them. One crucial aspect of this is relating the information to the students culturally. If a teacher has a multicultural classroom, it is imperative to acknowledge that not all students learn in the way that is most convenient for the teacher to teach. Bringing community into the classroom forces the teacher are forced to create a more caring, comfortable, and creative classroom when trying to ring community aspects into the classroom.
I really enjoyed the article about "Other Peoples Children." I thought it raised interesting ideas about stereotypes, and lost opportunities for communication between a teacher and a student from a different culture. The stereotypes about Asian Americans, Latin Americans, and African Americans were especially interesting to me because was went to a multicultural high school. As a white, middle class female, I wondered why the majority of the African-Americans were in the other classes, and not in my honors classes. Although we had about 10 percent African Americans in my classes, the high school was probably about 40 percent black. I still see similar ratios when I substitute teach. This article was very informative because it talked about some cultural differences specifically instead of making vague references to economic and social differences. For example, I loved the story about Marti. "But, this old lady aint had no sense!" I thought that was great. Students, no matter how hard a teacher my push them to conform to the mainstream still latch on to their roots, traditions, and way of life. This is natural. I dont understand why most teachers today want to force many multicultural students to be taught in and learn in ways that are not suit to their educational needs. Teachers need to teach with the intentions to reach. That involves learning more about how your students learn, and then adjusting the teaching methods to fit that need. Personally, I am very concerned about the Hispanic community in Georgia. Many Mexican-American students are going to school, sometimes unfamiliar with English, and coping with the teacher and other students assuming they are stupid because they can not communicate their thoughts. What is a solution to this? Should teachers learn more Spanish? Should students learn more English? Even if these Hispanic students did learn to speak better English, would the cultural gap be too much in the classroom. These are things I think about.
Many pre-service teachers have been spoon-fed negative statistics. The article brings attention to this, and I agree. However, where can anyone including pre-service teachers allocate information on the contrary? I would not know where to begin. This is not because I am not interested, but because the information does not seem available. Another thing that really bothers me about both of these articles is that even though both emphasize the importance of culture and community awareness in the classroom, neither there are very few examples of how to incorporate this issues into the classroom, especially a math classroom. I have concerns being culturally aware of social issues, and still not having adequate resources to make 180 lesson plans for a math class. Even in my methods courses, I get a few good ideas, but nothing I can really focus an entire year of learning around. I think that many new teachers face this problem, and feel lost and burnt out by the end of the year. All the best intentions in the world cannot go very far without the resources to back them up.
The key to recognizing cultural differences is to realizing that we are all ethnocentric. We all have cultures that we base our perspectives and lives around. The objective of overcoming this ethnocentricity in the classroom is to respect the students right to have a culture, and realize that the best learning will occur with the open-mindedness of the teacher.