Addressing cultural diversity in the classroom.
Cultural diversity and diversity in general is something that we should champion in the modern age. As a teacher however, it brings challenges to engage and maintain a student’s learning in the classroom environment. As Thomas Jefferson said “There is nothing more unequal, than the equal treatment of unequal people.” This essay will present a view that a pre-service and newly registered teacher needs to identify on an individual and self-less basis with each of his/her students to engage in culturally diverse classrooms to make an effective presentation of the education needs in relation to the obstacles they may face. There are many avenues for the deconstruction of the differences in cultural and other areas between student and teacher, however it is the recognition of a teacher as an individual, by that teacher that is the key focus to successfully transgressing a division. Ideas in the deconstruction of the individual and the deconstruction of the culture and society in which a person, class or school exist are central to the self’s ability to understand and engage with another, whether that be culturally and linguistically similar or polar opposite to the self, it is the stripping away of the specific values, beliefs and learned behaviors and expectations that is needed for a teacher to engage directly with students from a cultural and/or linguistically different background. LITERATURE REVIEW
Reid and Sriprakash (2011) cite a number of studies and develop further an argument that it is the knowledge of the teachers combined with the statutes that multiculturalism has in a wider curriculum which present the core of the issue. Citing the rise of neo-liberalism in education, the curriculums of both the schools where the teachers are, and the universities where the teachers studied have suffered a decline in the provision of multiculturalist-orientated courses due to economic constraints and new paradigms of what is ‘useful’ knowledge. Hebblethwaite (2010) explores the needs of students with a “Confucian Heritage Background” in New Zealand schools as a contrast to the wider community’s perceived need for graduates to be independently minded with good problem solving and communication skills. For Reid and Sriprakash, the implementation of specific teaching and assessment methods that focus on small group work; questioning in a perceived safe and secure environ; informal feedback, especially from peers and lesson planning to foster direct communication is the key to bridging this perceived gap. Santoro (2009) presents a view that, with the changing nature of the world in terms of multi-cultural, non-homogenous societies and classrooms, teachers “…are not well prepared to teach students whose cultural values and beliefs are different from the mainstream.” (p34). Santoro creates three broad categories to explain this failing: practice and pedagogy understanding; understanding of students and understanding of themselves in the context of a multicultural classroom. Knowledge of the student and the student’s identity and circumstance is exceptionally important for good teaching. Knowledge of cultures and in particular, the potential to incorrectly label a student’s grouping; the externalization of a student’s situation and the simplification of a culture, race, ethnicity or other sub-cultural association is lacking in many of the pre-service educators surveyed. The paper covers a research project of only eight pre-service educators of unknown age in an inner-city Melbourne location where the majority of the student population is from a non-English speaking background. Santoro criticizes some of the subject group for over-simplifying a cultural or racial background and others for not over-simplifying their own cultural background. There is also criticism for the use of a particular expression “Turkish” as opposed to an apparently correct “Turkish-Australian” label which...
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