Understanding Students and Their Culture
Marcus Garvey once said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Our past history, origin, and culture is what adds characteristics to our lives. I have always had a fascination about different cultures. I remember traveling to Paris France and experiencing Fool’s Day where you try to tape paper fish on other people’s back. My mouth waters when I think about the bakeries and chocolatiers that make pastries and chocolates that are fish shaped to celebrate the day. I think about the Mayans and all the excitement that must have occurred during the Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza during their games. Then the winning captain of the team would offer his head to the losing captain. This was the ultimate honor to the Mayans. One day in March I would like to travel to North India to experience their culture and participate in Holi. This day everyone in the streets will throw colored powder paint and dye at each other to celebrate a spring festival of fertility and harvest. Culture is an element that infuses color into our lives. As teachers we must understand our student’s culture and their educational needs. According to Culturally Proficient Instruction A Guide for People Who Teach; “Cultural proficiency is the combination of organizational policies and practices, or an individual’s values and behaviors, that enables the organization or the person to interact effectively in culturally diverse settings” (Nuri-Robins, 2012, p. 13). It is a way for individuals to act and respect other individual’s cultural differences. Once a teacher understands a student’s culture, diversity, and educational needs then the teacher can use educational tools for the student to become successful. Cultural proficiency is not an off-the-shelf program. It is an approach; it provides tools and help for an increasingly diverse world with an increasing number of well-intentioned and fearful...
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