Diversity in the classroom

In this week’s reading I learned about cultural differences and how they often cause misunderstandings and conflicts. I found it interesting to look at culture as an iceberg with layers that are in sight and others that are out of sight. The top of the iceberg is cultural differences we can see and that we are aware of such as language, dress, holiday customs and more. We become accustomed to these kinds of differences through media and our daily lives. What I learned in this reading is that it’s what’s bellow the surface that causes conflict. Things like roles of men and women, nature of friendship, concept of personal space and many more are the aspects that we do not often see and so we do not address them. As teachers it is important to address all aspects of cultural differences in order to understand and appreciate the person as a whole. In doing this we avoid the common misunderstandings and conflicts that can arise when we are not aware. Another thing I learned about is social class and SES. Summer setbacks for students of lower SES is not something I have thought of before. These students have less access to books during the summer and do not read as much as students of a higher SES do and so they suffer from considerable setbacks in their reading levels when they return to school compared to the other students. Not only is this a cause of lack of access to books it could also be a matter of lack of time for reading. Students of a lower SES are more likely to be working during the summer at a younger age then other students and spend most of there summer trying to make money not bettering their reading abilities. Gender roles is another thing that I learned about in this chapter. In school gender roles are established at a very young age where girls will only play with other girls and same goes for the boys. They play with what is typically male and female toys and it isn’t until they get a bit older that those who differ from these roles are ridiculed. The books children are reading and the TV they are watching strongly influence the gender roles they have and will bring in to the classroom.

The first connection I made is with the idea of gender roles in the classroom. This semester I am taking EFDN which is a course that focuses on gender and sexuality in the classroom. What I have learned in this class directly relates to what I have read in this chapter. Throughout this past month I have watched several videos that show the effects of gender roles in schools. As teachers it is important to make our classrooms a space that is free of gender roles to avoid problems with stereotypes and bullying. The second connection I made is with cultural diversity in schools. In my school there was very little cultural diversity amongst the students, it is a school that is generation based and so most students come from families of the community. Our staff however, was more culturally diverse because we had teachers coming in from other countries to work in our school because of a lack of French teachers in our area. Having teachers of a different culture often times brought up issues in teaching and learning differences. Often times our teachers’ beliefs about effort and ability differed significantly from those of the school in general.

The question I have after completing this reading is as a future teaching how do I recognize the hidden diversities my students will bring in to the classroom and how can I make my classroom a place where all culturally diverse students can strive?

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