Culturally Diverse Students in American Classrooms

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 245
  • Published : March 12, 2009
Open Document
Text Preview
Nowadays, the composition of the American classrooms has seen many changes. Due to the increased immigration, culturally diverse student population has been constantly growing. The statistics predict that by 2030, more than 40% of students in the United States will be students of color. The wide cultural diversity may cause misunderstandings and controversies in the teacher-student relationship. How should the teachers respond to this situation? What do they need to know and what can they do to prevent conflicts? In my research paper, I would like to explore on these issues while touching upon related topics such as: different learning styles of diverse students, multicultural education, culturally responsive teaching, stereotypes, generalizations, stereotypical threat, multicultural curriculum, and various programs to help accommodate minority students with language barriers. For instance, different students may bring different learning styles to the classroom. What is normal in one culture may not seem normal in another. Some cultures value cooperation and teamwork while others emphasize competition and individuality. If the teacher is unfamiliar with different learning styles, he/she may interpret students’ behavior as inappropriate or as avoidance of work. For example “some students devote time and attention to ‘stage setting’ (checking pencils, rearranging sitting positions, watching others), getting ready before work can begin” (Sadker, Zittleman, 177). Such students may therefore look (appear) lazy, while in fact they might be more interested than the teacher thinks. Also in some cultures talking out loud in front of the crowd ‘showing off your knowledge’ is considered inappropriate. Being aware of different learning styles will help teachers to asses their students better as well as apply multiple teaching strategies to accommodate diverse students. Consequently, by practicing multicultural education, teachers can become more successful in dealing with culturally diverse students. Multicultural education focuses on fighting racism, as well as discrimination against gender, social class, disability, and sexual orientation. The goals of multicultural education include: expanding the curriculum to reflect America’s diversity, using teaching strategies responsive to different learning styles, ensuring and supporting multicultural competence of teachers, and commitment to social justice (Sadker, Zittleman, 85). Teachers practicing multicultural education can no longer rely on the knowledge in their content areas only. Moreover, they are expected to minimize the differences between home and school culture, be flexible in approaching students individually, differentiate throughout the lesson to relate to different abilities of students, as well as to be open-minded to new teaching techniques and innovations in education. Bilingualism or multilingualism is seen as a great plus as well and puts teachers at advantage before the monolingual teachers. Students learn in different ways, and effective teacher recognizes and respond to these differences (Sadker, Zittleman, 87). With other words, a successful teacher in today’s multicultural classrooms practices culturally responsive teaching that focuses on learning strengths of students and the skills and insights he/she brings to classroom encourage students to become more comfortable with each other. Gloria Ladson Billings developed three promising culturally responsive principles for teaching culturally diverse students: 1) Students’ self-esteem is built on academic success. Students need to feel good about themselves and their self-esteem must be built on academic accomplishments (Sadker, Zittleman, 88). 2) Students should develop and maintain cultural competence, and the student’s home culture is an opportunity for learning. Teachers should expand their concept of the classroom to include the community. When they move beyond their classroom and...
tracking img