Managing Diversity / Individual Reflection Paper Essay

Managing Diversity / Individual Reflection Paper Essay.

My personal growth while working on my community growth I must say that it has inspired me to continue working with children and it awaken a knowledge of organizing or funding something that can benefit so, many. I didn’t believe that I had the capabilities to come up with an idea of a program for the community, and that this proposal could take affect if we want to.

I learned that I am capable of being a leader. I discovered a new skill where I thought I would never have.

I believe that by doing this project I learned and developed the skill to create something that it can actually be done and accomplish. I learned this when I would gather with the rest of the members of the project and ideas just started to come out of my mind and how I saw that we all agreed to and knew that it can work. This learning matters because my goal is to have a business of my own and by doing this project I was able to see some of the highlights and things need to have an organization either profit or non-profit and this relate to my career because as a manager I need to come up with strategies, schedules, meetings, and so, on.

Also the role of being a manager is to give that positive environment to the staff, being a team.

Doing this project I came up with new objectives such as being a manager, receiving my master’s degree, and having an own business either in the United States or at my parents homeland. I learned that you don’t have to be afraid to say things that you think are not going to work and that others are going to be negative about it. What I am trying to say is that by doing this project I learned that any idea could actually be a great idea and function. I have always been the type to be a team member and participate, but with this project I learn to become a leader my teammates and me were the leaders of our proposal, the ones that came up with the concept of the organization. I learned this when we started to come up with ideas for a proposal.

When I was given my part of the project, so many things came to my head I felt that I had the main role here because I was given the part of the brand promise, staffing, roles, and the concept of the project. In light of this learning I will be a team leader, not be afraid to lead, and being outspoken. I will try to take action on being more leader like, read books about it, and start practicing with myself on things that I need to have done. My main concern is being afraid to lead, but with this project I learned that I shouldn’t be afraid because I will never accomplish anything and being that my major is on management, being a manager means being a leader to your staff. Finally the actions that I will definitely take are being outspoken. Give my opinion out either if it’s for something that I don’t agree with or that I will like to have my idea be heard, whether it will be used or not, but at least it was spoken about.

Managing Diversity / Individual Reflection Paper Essay

Ethnic Diversity in the Uk Essay

Ethnic Diversity in the Uk Essay.

Immigration, annexation, and colonialism are processes that may create subordinate groups. Other processes such as extermination and expulsion may remove the presence of a subordinate group. Significant for racial and ethnic oppression in the United States today is the distinction between assimilation and pluralism. Assimilation demands subordinate-group conformity to the dominant group, and pluralism implies mutual respect among diverse groups. The definition of ethnicity people value differently for each of the primary and secondary factors Primary whether it be Race, Nationality, Language, Religion, Perceived Ethnic Identity.

Secondary whether it be Social status, residential concentrations, age, gender and caste. The processes which create and maintain ethnic diversity are such as Colonisation, annexation and international migration showing the role of those processes that create ethnic diversity in one country. The problems that come with the processes is ethnic diversity whether it be Segregation, pluralism, multiculturalism and discrimination that also shows the economic, social and spatial outcomes of ethnic diversity’ showing the role of these processes and their outcomes for one ethnically diverse city.

The problem with Britain is that has been colonised over the centuries by various groups from Romans (introducing the catholic religion as a new ethnicity) the introduction of one of the first colonial powers to rule the British empire. The British isles came together as a political unit through annexation over a number of centuries culminating in Ireland. First wave of Immigrants was in the mid nineteenth century when thousands of Irish fled the potato famine and came to cities with major ports e. g. Liverpool in aid of work and living this is classified as international migration.

Most significant increase in ethnic diversity in Britain started in the 1950s. During two world wars hundreds of thousands of men from across the empire had fought for Britain. India alone provided 1. 3 million soldiers. During these years many remained in Britain, forming small ethnic communities in ports this was due to India being a colonial country under British rule. A Number of Jewish immigrants also fled to Britain from the nazi oppression in Europe. At the end of the WWII there work shortages throughout Europe and Britain.

157,000 polish immigrants arrived in Britain in search of work. Shortly after where joined by the Italians but there was still a labour shortage and eventually workers were recruited from the colonies this is all international migration due to it being an economical climate issue. 22nd June 1948, the empire wind rush brought the first of many West Indians to live and work in Britain during the 1950s. In 1956, London transport was struggling to find workers so advertised in Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica for bus drivers and conductors.

More and more immigrants flocked to Britain throughout the years from Barbadians, West Indians in 1958 and in the 1960s they were joined by immigrants from Indian sub continent which had become India, west and east Pakistan, following independence from Britain. The new immigrants were different to the rest as instead of flocking to the port areas they moved to the London area filling low paid, unskilled jobs in factories and the service sector. Car engineering in car manufacturers in the West Midlands were another focus.

They frequently established clusters or neighbourhoods in the poorest areas in the inner cities – Toxteth in Liverpool, Brixton and Bethnal Green in London. In most cases the new immigrants eventually established their own places of worship and other ethnic services. These new immigrants were not welcomed easily into British society and there were protests at their arrival. The government reacted by amending the British nationality Act to make it more difficult for non white immigrants to bring their family members with them.

In spit of this, the numbers of non-white residents continued to grow and by 1970 they numbered 1. 5 million, one third of these were children born in Britain. Racial prejudice was quite widespread and there were racially motivated riots in the 1980s. Riots were started by claims that ethnic minorities, especially black male youths, were being targeted by the police. These minorities are being represented by racial unequal treatment. The amount of ethnics taking and filling British jobs is causing ethnic conflict between white Caucasian. conflict sociologists see the social world as being in continual struggle.

The conflict perspective assumes that the social structure is best understood in terms of conflict or tension between the competing groups within Britain. The result of this conflict is significant economic disparity and structural inequality in education, the labor market, housing, and healthcare delivery. Specifically, society is a struggle between the privileged (the dominant group) and the exploited (the subordinate groups). Such conflicts need not be physically violent and may take the form of immigration restrictions, real estate practices, or disputes over cuts in the federal budget.

Ethnic Diversity in the Uk Essay

Intellectual Diversity Essay

Intellectual Diversity Essay.

Have you ever really stopped to think about diversity? The typical individual usually thinks of different skin colors or the different backgrounds everyone has. By definition diversity is the condition of being different. The term ‘diversity’ encompasses a broad scope. There are many realms to diversity such as economic, cultural, and gender. However a type of diversity that has been growing in buzzword in recent years, especially among the conservative communities of college campuses, is intellectual diversity. Intellectual diversity, along with ‘academic freedom’ is what activists like David Horowitz characterize as being the equal treatment of an individual, regardless of political affiliations or religious beliefs.

The leftist tendencies inherent in academia are of course not a new development, though they have been better-documented as of late by conservative writers. The issue that these writers discuss is how intellectual diversity is threatened in these different environments through partisan politics as well as the liberalized environments themselves.

The issue of intellectual diversity is a quandary that the government must deal with carefully.

They cannot simply issue strict laws regarding the protection of intellectual diversity on campus because this does not satisfy what everyone wants and more importantly what they need. The government, as well as these conservative activists has to realize that there will always be a liberal opposition in the world. They must recognize that although it is completely just to fight for equal treatment and opportunity for people with different views, it is not ok to shield these people from the opposing liberal perspectives completely because that limits the individual to not be able to explore the different ideas in the world and learn to embrace the opposition. It will ultimately limit them from being able to become a well-rounded and educated person.

Conservative students are being crushed in liberal campuses and in classrooms where teachers have different views. Case after case of liberal activism and indoctrination has been publicized by conservative activists. This is because activists like David Horowitz have realized the effects of a liberal atmosphere, and biased teachers. In “Schools of Reeducation”, Frederick M. Hess touches on the topic of a young college student of Washington State, Ed Swan, a conservative Christian father of four that was flunked with the explanation that he “revealed opinions that have caused me great concern in the areas of race, gender, sexual orientation and privilege.”

In David Horowitz’s “In Defense of Intellectual Diversity” students from the University of Denver and Duke are described as having to deal with seeing partisan propaganda posted on doors and hallways as well as joking warnings from teachers that say that any Republicans should drop his course because of his strong “liberal” opinions. Because of these and many other displays of liberal dominance in college campuses, conservatives are starting to take a stand, Mr. Horowitz for example wrote the “Academic Bill of Rights”. The way conservatives are placed in such hostile environments is not fair, just, or virtuous, it is impartial and nonpartisan.

The government must be extremely scrupulous in the ways they deal with intellectual diversity and the laws they implement because it could have negative impacts on the professors and administrators of colleges and universities. In “The Right to Tell the Truth”, Ann Marie B. Bahr retells her story of a terrible experience she had undergone when teaching courses on world religions at South Dakota State University. Students inspired by David Horowitz’s “Academic Bill of Rights” literally induced the poor teacher to fear her job. She felt that they forbade her to express an informed professional opinion. Bahr, a women completely qualified to teach the course was unable to, because if she ever said anything that her students didn’t agree with they simply dropped the course. I don’t believe David Horowitz would support such behavior arousing from his bill, but this is why the government must be extremely careful, prudent, and meticulous when dealing with such a delicate issue as intellectual diversity. Where is the justice in scaring teachers to falsify the truth? Or sacrifice their right to have and informed professional opinion, there is none.

Conservative students must not be shielded from the liberal opposition because it debilitates them from learning how to deal with it; it won’t broaden their minds to new ideas and instead will hold them back from becoming the educated, well rounded, less biased individuals that they have the potential to become. The population that Mr. Horowitz’s “Academic Bill of Rights” is directed towards is the unfortunate conservative students who are put at a disadvantage due to the ‘hostile environments’ where liberal propaganda roams free and biased liberal teachers treat them unfairly. But the thing is that these students many times don’t break down and crumble at the feet of this liberal monster, but instead grow from the experience. The students come out stronger in the end after going through such a hard experience.

They are able to become strong minded, and intellectually powerful. No college student should ever be put in an unfair situation where they are scared to think and say what they want due to their surrounding environment, or are not able to attain the same grade as a colleague because of their personal beliefs; but they also shouldn’t be protected like a mommy with her baby because in the real world there will be those strong minded liberals that you will have to face and converse with, and they need to have already experienced liberal feedback in their lives in order to be able to respond back effectively. Again the government must be careful not to just create strict laws that protect intellectual diversity. The level of intensity of these laws must be restricted in order to allow the conservative individual to still grow as a human being.

As in many controversial arguments both sides of intellectual diversity bring up valid points. The side for intellectual diversity argues that we all have the right to have different political, religious, and social views, but regardless of what they are still be treated equally. The side against intellectual diversity argues that if the government enacted strict laws to enforce it, this would lead to negative impacts on professors and administrators of college campuses as well as debilitating students from experiencing real world conflicts and learning from them. The truth is that both sides of the argument are correct and there is sufficient evidence to prove both points. We the people must not allow one side to emerge from this conflict victorious, because this will leave the other side out to suffer the storm. Instead we must compromise between the opposing views and find a way to work in concert in order to find a solution that benefits both sides equally.

There are many realms of diversity however the one that always seems to be the most controversial, and difficult to solve, is by far intellectual diversity. The fight over whether intellectual diversity should be enforced by the government is not a new one. This is an ongoing conflict that recently has spurred heated debate, now the time has come to solve this problem. It is the single most important responsibility of the government to protect the people, therefore the government not only has the right to create laws on this issue but it is its obligation. However the government must recognize that there are indeed two sides, and it must not show sympathy for either one but instead compromise between the two to find a middle ground that will satisfy both sides.

The solution therefore lies in reconciliation. The government must enact a law that protects the intellectual diversity of students however this must be done in a scrupulous manner so it does not have a negative effect on college professors and administrators; perhaps even creating a law that protects this population as well if necessary. The government must also limit the intensity of the law; students must not be completely shielded from opposing views, for that would be a disservice to the students, whose growth as person would be limited from a strict law. As best put by Harvey Mackey, “Nobody said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”

Intellectual Diversity Essay

Portrayal of Diversity in the Media Essay

Portrayal of Diversity in the Media Essay.

Despite the fact that the United States is considered an ‘immigrant nation’ with people from almost all countries of the world adding value to the economy and society as a whole, a study conducted by Children Now has revealed that the “family hour” on television, that is, the shows that are aired between 8 and 9pm, are “the least ethnically diverse (“Diversity in the Media and Entertainment Industries,” 2004).”

Only one out of eight shows aired during the “family hour” has a mixed cast (“Diversity in the Media and Entertainment Industries”).

  Naturally, this sends strange messages about American diversity to the children of the nation.  What is more, the Screen Actors Guild has reported that African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos have been underrepresented in films since 1998.  In other words, cinematic roles played by non-white American people have been declining in number (“Diversity in the Media and Entertainment Industries”).

     Another issue that the media must confront with regards to portrayal of diversity is the problem of stereotyping.

  Apparently, advanced degrees in mass communication are not helping journalists and advertisers to be honest in their understanding of people and cultures.  Given the responsibility to relay truthful information to the public; journalists, advertisers and all distributors of entertainment and news across different mediums such as television, newspapers, radio, Internet, etc. should have known that all people and cultures cannot be appreciated through stereotypes.  Moreover, through mass usage of stereotypes, the media is creating a mass culture, the representatives of which consider it abnormal to step outside the stereotypes (“Media Stereotyping,” 2007).  The Media Awareness Network explains the obvious reason for stereotyping before outlining other problems associated with stereotypes:

         Media stereotypes are inevitable, especially in the advertising, entertainment and newsindustries, which need as wide an audience as possible to quickly understand information. Stereotypes act like codes that give audiences a quick, common understanding of a person orgroup of people—usually relating to their class, ethnicity or race, gender, sexual orientation, social role or occupation. But stereotypes can be problematic. They can: reduce a wide range of differences in peopleto simplistic categorizations; transform assumptions about particular groups of people into “realities”; be used to justify the position of those in power; and perpetuate social prejudice and inequality (“Media Stereotyping”).

According to Ungerleider (1991) there is a mechanism at play that contributes to the “misperception of minorities by the media.”  This mechanism relates to news being generally constructed into a story or narrative structure with victims, villains, in addition to heroes.  Issues are typically framed as disagreements or plain conflicts between forces of opposition, thereby making heroes and villains.  When news stories must engage minorities, they are typically placed into the categories of victims or villains.  It is rare for a person belonging to a minority ethnic group to be portrayed as a hero or heroine.  Moreover, interpretations that are often repeated become “accepted understandings (Ungerleider).”

     Ungerleider presents two examples of stereotyping in the Canadian media.  When the housing prices in Vancouver rose rather sharply, the media created news stories that portrayed minorities – in particular, the immigrants from the Far East – as the villains.  Thus, emigration from Far East Asia was linked to the problem of increasing housing prices in Canada.  Another example of stereotyping concerned the attention given by the Canadian media to criminal activities among youth gang members.  The coverage of this issue during 1988-89 entailed that only the young Asians were members of youth gangs (Ungerleider).  Obviously, this sent a message to the Canadians that immigrants are dangerous people.  Most importantly, by sending such messages to the people at large, the media is responsible for breeding hate in society.

     Another problem of portrayal of diversity in the media relates to the fact that governments happen to be the chief sources of news.  Governments play a prominent role in news stories.  However, governments are not known to be heavily represented by minority groups.  This is the reason why minority groups cannot play a prominent role in news stories anyway.

What is more, governments happen to be responsible for distributing information about minorities for news stories, seeing that governments are the “major manufacturers and distributors of information (Ungerleider).”  It is easy, therefore, for governments to convey information about minority groups the way they would like to deal with these groups.  The news stories may not always be true.  Nevertheless, the media has little to no part to play as far as news stories conveyed by the government are concerned.

     Regardless of the nature of problems related to portrayal of diversity in the media, the fact remains that diversity is an essential part of societal reality in both the United States and Canada.  Both of these countries rely on the immigrant work force to maintain high economic growth.  By allowing news stories, films and television shows to portray the minority groups as inferior, societies face the dangers of not only losing their high economic growth but also the breeding of hate.

References

Diversity in the Media and Entertainment Industries. (2004). Ethnic Majority. Retrieved Dec 17,

2007, from http://www.ethnicmajority.com/media_home.htm.

Media Stereotyping. (2007). Media Awareness Network. Retrieved Dec 17, 2007, from

http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/issues/stereotyping/index.cfm.

Ungerleider, C. (1991). Media, Minorities, and Misconceptions: The Portrayal by and

Representation of Minorities in Canadian News Media. Canadian Ethnic Studies, Vol. XXIII, No. 3.

Portrayal of Diversity in the Media Essay

Diversity Essay

Diversity Essay.

Diversity is a great teacher- it teaches us to be tolerant and helps us explore the human race from various parts of the world. The American environment gave me a tremendous insight on people from different cultures and religions all over the world. The cultural beliefs, traditions formed the best part of my life experience. After coming to America, I learned how to live with different people from all walks of life. I realized that no matter what culture, country, religion or race they came from, these people had a wonderful way to share their traditions with me.

I was invited to several events, including religious and informal ones. My friends came from different backgrounds and each of them exhibited their own culture and traditions. Intellectually, all my friends were the same, irrespective of their religion or culture. There was no discrimination and I saw the world from a humanitarian perspective rather than a cultural or country perspective. We realize that no matter what the skin color, we are all the same.

To the University of Michigan, I’d like to contribute my humanitarian perspective to its diversity. I am an optimist person and I love exploring different cultures, perspectives and traditions. The University of Michigan would gain a humanitarian student who understands the significance of diversity in the United States of America. I agree, Korea is not as diverse as the U. S. and I can say that the American soil had given me a chance to explore its immense diversity and equality in every way.

I don’t believe in discrimination and this is what I intend to offer to the University of Michigan. Korea is a country with a rich traditional culture and I would like to offer the Korean insight to the University of Michigan as well as United States of America which I believe would be a wonderful addition where I’d love to be a part of its diversity. I would like to extend my interest to offer myself to the University of Michigan to be included in its rich diversity

You may also be interested in the following: barriers to equality and inclusion

Diversity Essay

Teaching A Diverse Population Essay

Teaching A Diverse Population Essay.

Diversity within the American classroom makes the process of teaching and learning a growing challenge.  The faces of today’s students are becoming increasingly dissimilar. Schools are faced with the challenge of integrating the cultures and ethnicities of American based curriculum and students from a variety of cultures and ethnicities. Each of these students brings different culturally based rules, expectations, value systems, and educational needs to the learning environment. Facing the challenge of educating these increasingly culturally and ethnically diverse learners begins not only with a change in the management, pedagogy, and instructional delivery system, but also with a change in designers, trainers, or teachers.

Research indicates that most mainstream cultural educators automatically view the world exclusively from their own viewpoints, which serves as a reference against which all others should be evaluated. This process has been commonplace in the classroom.  This results in an unwarranted belief that one’s own way of doing things is “best” and that one’s own group is markedly superior to another.

“Generally speaking, this type of person is the one who neither understands nor accepts the culturally different learners’ values, their motives, the rewards that are meaningful to them, their locus of control, their linguistic systems, their learning styles, and their cognitive styles.” (Zhang, 2001)  This is a person who may, upon entering or creating a learning environment, do so with cultural orientations and expectations that reflect his/her own cultural values and expectations.  This can create an environment that perpetuates the predominant culture and shuts out others learners.

Zhang identified talking points to enable an educational system evaluate their ability to meet the needs of minority or diverse students.  These questions include:

(1) What form of educational system is most familiar to the students?

(2) What kind of learning environment is most customary to these students?  In some cultures, for example, teachers are revered individuals who teach sacred truth. The task of the students is to absorb knowledge, and they seldom disagree with the teacher. In the programs designed for these particular students, we can put more fundamental basic skills for them to memorize.

(3) How do the cultural backgrounds of the students influence their uses and views of time? Americans’ uses and views of time reflect cultural biases that alter their educational processes.  In contrast to the American clock-oriented value, some cultures are not conditioned to use every moment in a productive, task-oriented manner.  Classrooms may not be able to design curriculum in a strictly time-controlled system. Some students may need more time.

(4) What kind of relationship is most natural for these students to have with the teachers? The teacher-student relationship is culturally mandated.

(5) What rewards are attractive to these students? Rewards and reinforcement for learning differ in effectiveness across cultures. Some cultures teach their children different reward systems.  For instance, verbal praise, which is viewed by most teachers as a reward, is not perceived as such by children of some minority groups.

(6) How can the program use some slang? American classrooms are structured on standard English, but some minority students feel more comfortable learning in a rather informal setting. The use of some slang in the program may improve learning achievement.

(7) “What about the students’ cognitive styles?” American schools favor the abstract, conceptual style. Studies have shown that some cultural groups develop different cognitive styles.

Some theorists express the view that culturally different children are often judged as incompetent, whereas in reality, it is their individual performance, not their competence, which is deficient. The gap between competence and performance is attributed to inappropriate situation cues –inappropriate because they fail to stimulate the child into action. Mathematics requires more abstract, conceptual ability. Some minority students develop their cognitive style with concrete, objective base. Therefore “situated learning” environment supported by most of constructivism theorists is a good choice.  (Zhang, 2001)

            Zhang offers the following criteria to evaluate a good culturally balanced curriculum:

1)  Materials are respectful of cultural, ethnic, sexual, and/or religious diversity.

2) A balance of historical perspectives is represented that recognizes the complexity underlying historical events, especially wars, and politics.

3) Gender inclusiveness is evident.

4) A balanced perspective on the values and contributions of diverse cultures is represented.

5) Images and icons are sensitive to cultural taboos and customs.

6) An ethical perspective is presented that maintains that cultural practices should be respected unless they violate principles of basic humanity.

7) Ethnic groups are represented in ways that reflect the diversity within these groups.

8) A balance of different cultures and societies is represented in images or texts.

9) Ethnic groups are represented in ways that reflect accurately their overall contributions to society.

10) Ethnic pluralism based upon respect for differences are held forth as the ideal approach to societal development.

Teachers are well aware of the demographic trends in today’s schools indicating that the student population is becoming more ethnically, culturally, and racially diverse.  Curriculum development and teachers are challenged to provide meaningful, relevant, and motivating educational interventions to all learners. Instruction must be responsive to the needs of these new learners, who often have backgrounds different from our own.

This pluralistic focus, which requires us to accommodate diversity in the education process, must start with our own cultural  sensitivity.  This requires being able to view the world from the standpoint of a culture other than one’s own.  For educators, this means accepting as valid the culturally different learners’ values, their motives, rewards that are meaningful to them, their locus of control, their linguistic systems, their learning styles, and their cognitive styles. Incorporating these issues into program designs, valuing this diversity and seeing it as an asset to meaningful and effective instruction are key components for relevant instructional design.

Deep Teaching

                        Angela Rickford, while assessing the progress of reading skills among culturally diverse classrooms, found that there still exists inequities with the system and the instruction methods of teachers.  Rickford identified six sound principles, which formulate her theory on “deep teaching,” which is defined as “a teacher’s ability to communicate and impart stated concepts, curriculum content and lesson objectives to a class of students with enjoyment, clarity, understanding, and the permanent acquisition of new knowledge by those students even if they are academically challenged.”

The six principles identified in deep teaching are: 1) student engagement, 2) learner participation, 3) repetition and reinforcement, 4) high expectations, 5) sound pedagogy and 6) conceptual understanding.

Student engagement: In order to educate our children successfully, we should first seek to discover where their interests lie, and then teach to those interests.

Contemporary educators believe that a curriculum that incorporates real-world connections and applications will engage learners. Real-life work is meaningful to students, and effective as it allows the student to apply what they are learning.  Rickford promoted culturally relevant literature for teaching ethnically diverse students–literature containing themes, ideas, and issues that are consonant with their lived experiences, and with which they could readily identify.

Learner Participation:  The second element of learner participation forms a natural pairing with student engagement. In the classroom, the reading teacher must be a facilitator of knowledge, and a guide and coworker. The current educational emphasis is on learning strategies such as partner reading, shared reading, homogeneous and heterogeneous grouping, authentic assessment and interactive reading comprehension techniques (predicting, visualizing, questioning, and self-monitoring), and on communication and interaction. These techniques are designed to foster a participatory, pro-active, hands-on approach to student learning.

Repetition and Reinforcement:  Practice it until you can get it without thinking. It should be automatic.  It should become part of the individual.

Expectations:  The issue of low expectations continues limit the progress made by minorities in today’s classrooms in both direct and indirect ways. It has been well documented that low expectations are endemic in the mechanism of schooling that supports low-achieving students, and the trend is further manifested in fundamental measures of excellence such as teacher quality, teaching pedagogy, classroom management, and curricular selection.  The direct impact of low expectations on the part of classroom teachers has a cumulative effect on students.

One of social psychology’s most profound contributions to education has been the finding that teacher expectations can affect both children’s intellectual growth and their academic achievement.  High expectations should be the prevailing standard for all students.

Sound Teaching and Conceptual Understanding:  Sound teaching pedagogy is the principle upon which the successful transfer of knowledge from teacher to student depends, while conceptual understanding is what the student gains when that knowledge has been successfully transferred. Sound teaching pedagogy and conceptual understanding are the hallmarks of effective teachers. Research has shown further that teacher knowledge and expertise are directly and systematically related to student growth and achievement.

Multicultural Strategies

Coleman & Hamm identified multicultural strategies (integration, fusion, and alternation) that involve a desire to relate positively to individuals from multiple cultural groups, and are characterized by positive attitudes toward one’s own and other groups, a moderate to high degree of facility with the roles and values of multiple groups, and a belief that members of different cultures can successfully form positive relationships.

Although integration, fusion, and alternation strategies differ with respect to the specific knowledge, beliefs, and skills that guide them, each is based on a belief that cultural boundaries can and should be implemented successfully without compromise to either culture and are believed to motivate behavior to further integration.

A common experience in ethnically diverse schools is to collaborate in a group format on academic tasks with peers who are from one’s own, as well as from other ethnic groups.  Using a multicultural strategy, students would interact with all members of the learning group, taking steps to ensure that group members of all ethnic backgrounds are respected and are involved with the project.

Learning as a Social and Cultural Process

            Given that research has demonstrated the under-performing of minority students within the Western classroom, perhpas learning is primarily a social and cultural process.  This is not to diminish the role of the individual; however, individual thinking is strongly influenced by cultural assumptions and beliefs.  Because all communities do not think, believe, or learn in identical ways, there may still be much, that is confusing to or misunderstood by children with  language, culture, and socioeconomic differences. Teachers must be willing to learn not only who their students are but also who they, themselves, are as cultural beings and how that strongly affects their teaching.  (Pransky & Bailey, 2002)

            Pransky and Bailey identified a four step process for teachers to implement in the classroom to increase effectiveness:

Step 1. Awareness. A teacher notices a breakdown in communication or an inability (or unwillingness) of a student or group of students to perform adequately on an academic task.

Step 2. Inquiry. The teacher examines the nature of the lesson and begins to identify cultural assumptions that may negatively affect at-risk students.

Step 3. Reconceptualization. With this new information, the teacher reconceptualizes his or her perspective on the students, lesson, curriculum, or school culture.

Step 4. Lesson. A lesson is revisited, revised, or restructured, and one’s instructional decisions change based on that new conception.

What is learned through this process expands the awareness of the teacher, and effectively increases teaching skills.  As one develops more awareness, knowledge, and experience with a cultural perspective on learning, one is better able to reconceptualize and then redirect or refocus one’s teaching within the flow of the lesson. This might be termed “real-time inquiry.” In real-time inquiry, especially, it is important to engage in dialogue with students to try to discover the understandings they have of the lesson task or interaction. (Pransky & Bailey, 2002)

Teaching Science in a Diverse Classroom

Houtz & Watson evaluated teacher performance in the science classroom and identified the following needs in order to meet the needs of diverse students:

  1. They must recognize what is required in learning tasks such as vocabulary knowledge, the ability to make inferences, and the ability to work independently.
  2. They also should know their students’ strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Once these tasks are accomplished, the educator must determine the reason for the mismatch between a student’s abilities and the task requirements of the lesson

Culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students may be at risk of performing poorly in science if they lack the linguistic, the cognitive, the social, and the emotional behaviors required by science learning.  Because the behavior, culture, and language of CLD students may be different from those involved in the task requirements, these students may experience difficulty completing science projects.  Teachers need to identify the discrepancy between task demands and student ability and then modify to their lesson plans accordingly. By understanding the process of acquiring a second language and a second culture and the cognitive, linguistic, emotional, and social demands involved in the process, science teachers can incorporate instructional conditions that attend to the students’ needs.

Science teachers can use numerous instructional strategies to accommodate CLD learners without weakening the curriculum.  Contextualization allows students to draw from personal experiences and build on their prior knowledge to learn the new scientific concept. Teachers can “group individualize” the process by structuring questions that encourage students to think about their own personal experience as it relates to the topic or content to be learned.

The use of contextualized instruction provides CLD students the support they need for understanding the lesson by visually representing the information through experiments, pictures, graphic organizers, and charts. Contextualization allows teachers to (a) consider their students’ language proficiency levels of vocabulary control and (b) highlight specific text information.

Analogies and examples that are culturally relevant may also be used to help students understand scientific concepts.  Analogies show the similarities between a new concept and a familiar concept, making the new concept more meaningful to the student. Analogies can assist in diminishing the cognitive and linguistic requirements of the task.

Cognitive modeling and demonstration are especially beneficial for CLD students because these strategies increase understanding by providing concrete, step-by-step procedures that lessen the cognitive, linguistic, and social requirements of the task.  (Houtz & Watson, 2002)

A Learner Centered Approach

                        An essential factor for a learner-centered approach is placing the learning characteristics of all learners under close scrutiny with emphasis on low-performing learners.  The focus in a learner-centered approach is on individual learners’ heredity, experiences, perspectives, backgrounds, talents, interests, capacities, and needs.  A learner-centered approach is defined as clarifying what is needed to create positive learning contexts, in order to increase the likelihood that more students will experience success.  The culture of the learning context is as important to learning as the content and the methods used.  (Brown, 2003)

In the learner-centered environment, classroom teachers share narratives about students’ interaction with content and methodology. Teachers participate in professional development to learn how to differentiate instruction. Differentiation is a way of thinking about teaching and learning that is based on a set of beliefs that students who are the same age may differ in their readiness to learn, their interests, their styles of learning, their experiences, and their life circumstances.  The differences in students are significant enough to make a major impact on what students need to learn, the pace at which they need to learn it, and the support they need from teachers and others to learn it.

Differentiated instruction meets the needs of diverse student populations by combining  student needs with a focus on content, process, and learning profiles.  The learner-centered approach, focuses on content knowledge and design flexibility to allow learners to construct their learning. Learner needs and characteristics take precedence over knowledge of facts and skills; the emphasis is on engaging learners in learning for understanding and thinking, to help them build their own interpretations.

Creating Equitable Classroom Climates

Kelly outlines recommendations that include creating a mixed set of expectations for all

students in order to reduce the participation inequity altogether. These expectations focus on being able to identify each individual’s area or areas of strength and expertise. In order to create this new set of expectations,  teachers must convince students of three things: (a) the cooperative task requires many different intellectual abilities, (b) no one will have all of these abilities and, (c) everyone will have some of these abilities.  Kelly believes that teachers who teach and model equitable classroom culture will probably be more likely to convince students to behave more equitably to their peers.  (Kelly, 2002)

This method of implementing change by using a multiple-abilities approach and assigning competence to low-status groups, teachers will limit the impact of high expectations for high-status learners and low-expectations for low-status learners, and create a mixed set of expectations for everyone. This approach should reduce the differences in participation noted previously in high- and low-status students.  Kelly identifies the key factor to success in the latter intervention is recognition, a truthful evaluation by the teacher of the low-status student showing him/her as being strong in a specific, relevant area.

Conclusion

Diversity in the classroom and the challenges faced by teachers to meet the needs of minority students has been studied and debated for more than twenty years.  Progress in the identification of strategies has been made, but implementation is likely to be slow, as the revision of curriculum is a costly and time consuming project.

The strategies outlined in this paper are not dependent on the revision of curriculum however, and may provide for ease of implementation.  One focus of these strategies is to assess each student, understand who they are, based on their culture, and direct your teaching methods accordingly.  Further, teachers must identify their own cultural beliefs and how those may prejudice their teaching methods.  Including students in the process of learning, modifying the process, and outlining the challenges will be beneficial to the learning of all.

References

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Kelly, C. A. (2002). Creating Equitable Classroom Climates: An Investigation of Classroom Strategies in Mathematics and Science Instruction for Developing Preservice Teachers’ Use of Democratic Social Values. Child Study Journal, 32(1), 39+. Retrieved May 19, 2006, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5000659006

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Pransky, K., & Bailey, F. (2002). To Meet Your Students Where They Are, First You Have to Find Them: Working with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse At-Risk Students Research Has Shown How Attention to Cultural Mismatch May Be a Key to Equitable School Achievement. This Article Presents a Series of Case Study Vignettes to Assist Practicing Teachers. The Reading Teacher, 56(4), 370+. Retrieved May 19, 2006, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5000600644

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Watson, S. M., & Houtz, L. E. (2002). Teaching Science: Meeting the Academic Needs of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students. Intervention in School & Clinic, 37(5), 267+. Retrieved May 19, 2006, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5000755185

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Teaching A Diverse Population Essay