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Burleson's Grad Work
Burleson's Grad Work
Pages and Files
Models & Theories
Asks "5 fundamental questions"
What is the actual condition today in regard to race and racism?
What is the ideal that we want to strive to achieve?
What is the minimally acceptable situation in regard to race?
How do we get from the actual to the minimally acceptable condition?
How do we get from the actual to the ideal?
Collection 1: Multicultural Websites
As I am working my way through these readings, the question keeps coming back to me: How do we protect what is unique in each cultural group without fostering separation and the consequent tendency to see one’s own group as superior to other groups? The American Psychological Association (2008) article “Can – or Should – America be Colorblind: Stereotypes” points to many of the reasons we need to protect the uniqueness, but still leaves me wondering how we can accomplish this before another generation grows up distrusting and hating.
As part of the “predominate” culture, I find I am constantly working to keep my mind open to new ideas, to new ways of viewing situations, to new ways of working with students. This is a vital part of who I am and how I teach.
“Cultural Competence” (Child Welfare League of America) is a new term to me, but reflects concepts which seem to be vital for effective living, not just effective teaching. The definition of “culture” shows me that, as I suspected, the community in which I teach has a very different background from the culture in which I grew up and still live much of the time. If I want to be a force for good in this community, I must learn to work within the culture and subsume my own cultural biases in favor of accepting and learning from the new culture.
I think I need to work on integrating “cultural literacy” with “information literacy” in the classroom, but this is a concept I need to reflect on more deeply.
Bailey’s (2006) “Diversity’s dividends” echoes concepts found in James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of the Crowds (Surowiecki, 2005). While Surowiecki does not explicitly explore the multicultural aspects, he brings to light the necessity of not looking through the same set of cultural lenses all the time. To be able to make the best decisions, it is necessary to give all speakers an equal chance and equal voice.
Within my classroom, this moves into the arena of conflicting cultures based on background and economics far more than on race. Our community is very small, but I must keep in mind that the heritage is just as strong and has just as much impact as the racial or ethnic background of the individuals. I have a responsibility to help my students become aware of the much larger world that is out there.
Collection 2: Multicultural Education Journal Articles
The tone of these articles brought me up sharply. Starting with Weisel’s statement, “One is here in this world to create an atmosphere in which the other person is not my enemy, not a stranger, but a companion, an ally, and if possible a friend,” (Weisel, 2007) and working all the way through “race…has been and remains a particular type of ideology for legitimizing social inequality between groups…” (Mukhopadhyay & Henze, 2003), the social justice or rather injustice that is still part of the American mindset pounded away at me. As a theologian, I keep hearing the call for Liberation Theology ringing through the articles and crying out to be heard. This is not something that is optional for anyone, but rather it is a necessity for human life. If we cannot correct this now, at the beginning of the 21st century, I have no doubt that we will languish and be less for it.
Nieto’s call for “a concerted effort to recruit a more diverse faculty” (Nieto, 2003) and her insistence that mentoring of students can help increase the achievement of students provides a sound platform for me to build upon as I try to work with my own students. I knew, intellectually, that the greater bonds I build with my students, the better they seem to perform, but this article gives me references I can explore and cite as I try to move my own teaching and that of my peers to something that will be an education for our students, rather than a job that we do.
Four simple questions from Nieto, “Who’s Taking Calculus? Which Classes Meet in the Basement? Who’s Teaching the Children? How Much are Children Worth?” Just four questions, but questions that I must address daily and with a deep intention to answer them honestly. I must do as Breault suggests, and “empower” (Breault, 2003) my students to reach beyond themselves and see the problems in the world, choose to act on those problems, and give them the freedom and guidance that will allow them to come to an informed understanding rather than continue in the knee-jerk fashion to which they are so accustomed. By my own actions with the students, I must model an attitude of openness and convergence, rather than force-feed them my own opinions. Again, this is something which I have been aware of intellectually, but am now committing to in a new and more aware fashion.
Collection 3: Multicultural Education Websites
I was shocked, to say the least, when the first article I pulled from the Phi Delta Kappan repository was so profoundly contrary to everything I had been reading, and to everything I believe. “Future Schlock” (Baines, 1997) was most definitely not what I was expecting to see, and yet I suppose it was necessary for me to read it as a contrast to what I had been reading. I do not agree with many of Baines’s conclusions, but I must admit that he does have one profound statement, “The evidence in support of education reforms must be scrutinized to ascertain the degree to which those reforms will really benefit students.”
I am hoping that as I continue my research, I will find that the views of 1997 have been scrutinized, the studies have been validated, and that Professor Baines has not been proven correct.
*Update* Sadly, I am still finding many of the opinions expressed by Baines still appearing both online and in print.
GlobalSchoolNet.org (Global SchoolNet, 2007) and Awesome Library (Adams & Institute, 2007) are both new websites to me. I have added both of them to my del.icio.us network and will be utilizing them for my students as well as for my colleagues.
In a community such as mine (primarily rural white lower middle class), I must make every effort to expand the arena for my students; the lesson plans and ideas
Lewis-Charp’s article is giving me language to help me work more deeply with my students. “…the students we interviewed appeared torn between idealized visions of diversity, race, and ethnicity and the day-to-day stresses of negotiating difference” (Lewis-Charp, 2003) describes what I have observed in my classroom.
As I start preparing for the coming school year, I realize I need to rework several of the projects so they are more wide-ranging than I originally planned. My students must have the opportunity (over and over) to recognize that their own culture is only one of many, not the be-all-and-end-all of life in the 21st century.
Collection 4: International Journal of Multicultural Education
I selected “Stereotypes in Disguise” (Amos, 2008) with personal questions, as my granddaughters are of mixed race, Japanese and American.
Interestingly, the definition, “Ethnic identity is a sense of ‘we-ness’” applies to my students just as much as it does to my grandchildren. Even the choice of foods and the teasing about pronunciation of English (Amos, 2008) occurs on a daily basis, with the more urban kids being teased by the students who have lived in Tarkington for generations. Does this constitute an example of cultures clashing? I think it does, because the kids who have been here since first grade firmly believe that they are a unique group, and that the “newcomers” do not really belong. There is a sense of discrimination, and those students who have moved into the community within the last two or three years of their education tend to band together, seeking one another’s company rather than blending with the larger community.
The fostering of ‘Asian academic superiority’ being fostered by teachers themselves was not unexpected, but to realize that this is going on in a community (Seattle) where there is a greater diversity of students did surprise me. It has caused me to reflect on the interactions between student and teacher, examining the relationship in terms of teachers who are “outsiders” and teachers who are “locals.”
The behavior of Amos’s students when they were in Japanese school was in marked contrast to their behavior in the “White” school, “the participants were ‘relaxed’ at the Japanese school.” I think this is the same behavior I see demonstrated in classrooms where the teacher is “local,” with the generational students being more relaxed and at ease. In classrooms where the teacher has an urban background, the urban students seem to move to the forefront and to be more relaxed. This is something I need to try to observe more closely this Fall, in an effort to modify my own behaviors.
Looking at my own school community in light of this study, I believe there is a distinct patter as shown in Amos’s work, “a sharp contrast in their behaviors and academic performance in two different educational contexts.”
In light of high-stakes testing, what are the repercussions? Are students at a disadvantage when the teacher is from the same background? Because they tend to be more relaxed in the classroom itself, does this lead to lower expectations? More than one student has told me, when I corrected an egregious grammar error, “Miss, I’m from Tarkington. This is how we talk here.” There has not been any rudeness in the comment, but rather an indication that the student believes that s/he is expected to talk in this way and that any attempt to change it is both without merit and without hope.
And now I am catching myself being very “other.” As I reflect on the article and our local community, I realize that I am appalled to hear teachers use bad grammar whether in the lounge or in front of the students. How do I learn to “code switch,” to speak in a manner the students will be comfortable with, without ignoring the language of the urban students? How do I, as a professional, deal with the decided gulf between formal language and the local colloquial language. Do I need to? This bears much reflection.
Collection 5: Reading (and Viewing) Collection
My first reaction to Roy Beck’s video (Beck, 2006) was to reach for my blood pressure medication! Unprofessional reaction on my part? Perhaps, but I was horrified to see the way numbers were being twisted, fear was being evoked, and all in a gentle, believable tone. I went racing to the U.S. Census Bureau (U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, 2008) for some type of antidote to the manipulations of Beck, and was comforted by the charts and spreadsheets available there, even if I wasn’t able to completely understand the implications of all of them.
Prewitt’s overview of immigration in terms of religious background was a new way of looking at U.S. history, and reinforced the value of the First Amendment’s separation of church and state. I had not put together the religious aspect with the acceptance (or lack thereof) previously, much as his statement “this involved confusing nationality with race or ethnicity.” (Prewitt, 2002)
Nile and Straton’s step-by-step method for dealing with guilt has given me much food for thought. Their section on “Typical Reponses” (Nile & Straton, 2003) reminded me of the shock I had as a young teen, when a friend asked me what my first thoughts were when I realized a policeman was following me as I drove through a strange part of town at night. My response was, “I feel safe, like I can ask for help if I need it. What about you?” My friend’s response was the exact opposite. As a young person of color, living in the South in 1970, she reported, “I’m terrified they’re going to hurt me!”
The unity/diversity dichotomy is echoed in so many ways in everyday life. It is not something that is merely the fodder of journals or academics, but must be addressed daily by all. I need to continue to foster growth and development in my students, to help the European Americans realize that their world is much larger than the acreage of Tarkington Prairie. They are citizens of the 21st century, and as Thomas Friedman has so eloquently stated, “the world is flat.”
I want to avoid the triple indignities identified by Nile and Straton, of causing the indignity, then denying the existence of it, and then turning the focus on the victim as if s/he were the perpetrator. Is this something that happens in my small district? Again, not necessarily along racial lines, but certainly along economic lines.
Collection 6: Multicultural Education Journal Articles
Being part of a multicultural family myself, I found these readings to be very pertinent. Although of European American (EA) descent myself, my husband (also of EA descent) spent his early years living in Mexico and has a strong Mexican heritage. Our children grew up in a household that moved from lower economic to middle economic status, where Spanish was spoken as much as English, and where people of all races, creeds and colors came to visit and often stay for a while. Our son spent time teaching in Japan and married a Japanese woman; our grandchildren are tri-lingual, spend summers in Japan attending school and have attended Saturday School at the local Japanese school throughout the regular school year.
All that being said, the article on International Education (Kagan & Stewart, 2004) shows the need for all of us to be even more aware of the educational needs of all. Our daughter teaches in an inner city school, and sometimes has to point out to her students that she is “White,” despite being a 5’9” blonde in a school that is 93.2% students of color.
It was fascinating to discover that something I have often thought to be true, “one’s social and cultural position and experiences predict future teaching behavior” (Carpenter-LaGattuta, 2002) has been studied and found to be confirmed.
Taylor’s mention of Vygotsky seems to be highly important, concerning the “impact of social and linguistic factors on the mind.” (Taylor, 2004). While not facing the battle of skin color, my students must be helped to realize that something as simple as their use of the English language influences their learning process just as much as it influences the opinions other people form of them. The idea of a “Cultural Autobiography” (Carpenter-LaGattuta, 2002) is new to me, and something that I am going to do for myself, as well as try to incorporate it in my lessons for the coming year.
I am taking Kagan and Stewart’s statement to heart, “We must leverage media and technology resources to bring the world to our students.” Being in the unique setting of teaching in a technology lab all day long, I have the opportunity and responsibility to expose my students to as much of the world as I possibly can, and to help them understand that world in terms of their own worldviews.
Although we are not able to offer International Baccalaureate courses in my district, and very few Advanced Placement courses, that does not mean that our children must be permitted to continue their insular thinking. I must make certain that I keep my own learning and understanding open-minded, and model that for the students. I think that I will be able to use part of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) to this advantage, by utilizing the opportunities of Tapped In (SRI International, 2007) to create collaborative projects with students in other areas both of the United States and of the world.
Collection 7: My Resources I
The Awareness Quizzes offered by EdChange were revelations. I only got 2 correct out of 15 on the “Multicultural Education and Equity Awareness Quiz” (Gorski, Multiclutural Education Awareness Quizzes, 2008), despite all the reading I have been doing for this class, and didn’t fare much better on the other quizzes. I obviously have a great deal still to learn!
Even though as a teacher of English, I railed against the preponderance of “dead white guys” in the curriculum, I realize I have not been doing enough to move myself (and by extension, my students) to a wider view of literature and society. This must change!
The activities at Tolerance.org (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2008) have given me ideas for ways to help my students become more aware and (hopefully) accepting of differences in the student body.
Gay’s explanation that “the field of multicultural education is referred to interchangeably as multicultural education, education that is multicultural, and antiracist education” (Gay, A Synthesis of Scholarship in Multicultural Education, 1994) helped clear up some of my confusion, as did her listing of “the most frequently used definitions of multicultural education.” One of the most striking statements in her list of “assumptions about the nature of society” was “Ethnicity, culture and humanness are inextricably linked and interrelated” (ibid). Finding the phrases and wording that reflect my own beliefs is a great help. So often I have had a concept in my mind, but have not known the best way to phrase it; this article helped greatly.
I want to organize a “Mix It Up at Lunch” (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2008) project for our district to use this fall, to help break down some of the barriers that exist in our small community. It will be a shock to many, but I believe it is something we need to do. I will ask the Teen Leadership teacher to work with me in implementing this, as it falls well within the purview of that course.
Collection 8: My Resources II
I felt the need to go back to James Banks for this collection of resources, to refresh my memory from eleven years ago when I took another multicultural education class. I was delighted to find his succinct listing of the five dimensions, and realize that they are the same dimensions that are spoken of when discussing the use of technology in education:
The knowledge construction process
An equity pedagogy
An empowering school culture and social structure (Banks)
If these are the key elements to effect change, no matter the reason for the change, how do I make these part of my day-to-day teaching? I need to reflect more on this.
The term “Middle Passage” (RACE, 2007)was completely new to me, describing the “forced transportation of African people from Africa to the New World as part of the Atlantic slave trade” (Wikipedia, 2007). The exploration I made into Wikipedia’s article led to the “discussion” page, where the power of the Internet helping shape the worldview is very evident. A conversation is carried on there with respect for one another’s ideologies and opposing points of view (Malc82 & Merlin1935, 2007).
The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development identifies two approaches to multicultural education, the “multicultural festival” and the “’transformative’ approach.” (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2008) Seeing these two formats in such stark distinction makes me aware that I need to be certain I am utilizing the latter, rather than the former in my classroom as well as daily life.
The two sites from this collection that I believe I will be able to use the most in the classroom are the Tolerance.org site and the RACE site. I want to use the recommendations from 101 Tools for Tolerance (Southern Poverty Law Center) from the very beginning, along with their pages on “10 Ways to Fight Hate” and “Respond to hate at school.” I believe my 7th grade students will be excited to find things they can do that will make a difference in their own lives as well as the lives of others.
In line with the idea I have for my lesson plan for this unit (to create a classroom exchange with students from other cultures and countries through the offices of Tapped In (SRI International, 2007)) allowing the students to explore the RACE site before we begin interacting with other classes will be invaluable. The “For Kids” page (American Anthropological Association, 2007) has half a dozen activities that will lead to some great discussions in class, as well as give them ideas for projects they can collaborate on with their new partners once we move into the virtual environment.
Collection 9: My Resources III
I am finding the overlap astounding and yet not surprising at all…the standards for “Effective Pedagogy” identified by the Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence are the same standards as those identified for effective education by Dr. Chris Moersch of “Levels of Teaching Innovation” (LoTi). (LoTi, 2008). They are:
Teachers and students working together
Developing language and literacy skills across all curriculum
Connecting lessons to students’ lives
Engaging students with challenging lessons
Emphasizing dialogue over lectures (Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence, 2002)
Just as I discovered years ago, that the methods considered most effective for teaching gifted/talented students are also the most effective for teaching students with learning difficulties, good teaching practice is good teaching practice whether we are talking about integrating technology or creating a safe, diversified environment sensitive to people of different cultures. My only question is, “When are we, as teachers, going to get the message?”
The resource center provided by the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) offers a variety of tools for teachers, students and families, to help them achieve NAME’s goal, “to believe in one’s own intrinsic worth and culture, to transcend monoculturalism and, ultimately, to become multicultural.” (NAME) The tools provided by NAME and by New Horizons “Articles and Related Links” (New Horizons for Learning, 2002) are a treasure trove of information to use for my own education as well as for my students and fellow teachers.
I keep getting hit over the head with proofs that I need to make certain I plan each activity carefully, taking into account the various needs of my students on a variety of levels. I must continue to push them to go outside the safety zone, help them stretch and learn about the world around them, as well as help them see the diversity within our own building.
Above all, I must monitor my own behavior. I must model Banks’s “Dimensions of Multicultural Education” (Banks) in my classroom as a trainer. I must, above all, keep an open mind and spirit.
Collection 10: My Resources IV
My final collection is very teacher-centered starting with one of my favorite programs for “helping teachers teach and learners learn,” Project CRISS (Project CRISS, 2008). CRISS provides methods of teaching that are aligned with the standards set forth by Banks and LoTi. To talk about those standards in theory is good, but having actual classroom methods that will foster those ideals is where CRISS fits in.
Tolerance.org has a series of learning experiences for teachers titled “ABCs (Anti-Bias Classroom).” (Tolerance.org, 2007) Since several of the teachers on campus are coming from an urban background similar to mine, I want to share this site with them, and have us work through it together. We have a moral responsibility to our students better to understand the background of a large portion of our student body.
“The ABCs of Domestic Poverty” is a unit designed to be used with students, but as I read through the objectives and procedures I realized that I am in need of this instruction just as much (if not more so) than my students.
In conjunction with the ABCs unit, many resources are available through Laura Boyer’s “Multicultural Education and Ethnic Groups” page. Some links are broken, but she includes breakdowns of site listings such as “Ethnic Cookery,” and “Folklore, Mythology, Literature Lesson Plans.” (Boyer, 2003)
I need to seek out resources that are going to help me keep my eyes wide open for every possible opportunity to grow and change, and to help others grow and change. That sounds downright arrogant, as I re-read it, but it is what I am feeling as I wind up this particular activity. My awareness has grown with each article I have read, with each site I have visited, and I realize that there is so much I still need to learn, still need to do. I cannot change the world single handedly, but I can make a start in my own life, in my own classroom, in my own school…
Fortunately, I know that our principal’s wife is a trainer for CRISS. I am going to ask him to consider creating a Professional Development plan for our campus for the coming year that will include having Dr. Johnson train us in CRISS. With luck, she will also help me start the journey to become a trainer myself, to help spread this remarkable teaching tool in the district.
One final resource comes from Dr. Sass, with his page of multicultural links (Sass). Sadly, many of the links are now broken, but I have emailed him and asked if I can help find new resources to replace them.
This last case serves to point out one of the problems and wonders of doing research in the age of the Internet: by the time a book is published, much of the research done is five or more years out of date, but online resources have a way of melting into the ether. I am still working on how I can balance the use of both traditional and virtual resources so I have a firm foundation in research but am not hindered by out of date information
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