Culture and our Students

Report
How Does Culture Effect our
Students in the Classroom?
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It’s important to know what culture is before
you can understand how it effects our
students.
There are many different definitions of
culture.
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My definition:
◦ Culture is a way of identifying groups of people
through common identities – such as customs,
language, holidays, religions, institutions, common
beliefs, interactions with others, behaviors, etc.
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Culture defines all of us.
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According to Crochunis, T., Erdey, S., &
Swedlow, J. (2002), human development and
schooling are directly influenced by culture
and its values.
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We all develop our identity from the culture
we grow up in.
You may have asked yourself these questions
when you were a student.
Our students ask these questions everyday:
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Where do I fit in at school?
What’s my role in my family?
How do I balance home life and school life?
What is success?
How do I succeed?
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How we use our language is largely
dependent on our culture (Crochunis et al,
2002).
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What are the goals of speaking?
When should I speak?
Whom do I speak to?
In which circumstances is speaking appropriate?
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My culture is important to me – as a student,
as a teacher, and as a part of the community.
◦ That means the culture of others – students and
teachers – are just as important to them and should
be recognized.
◦ If I (the student) see myself as a valued part of the
class, then what I have to say is worthwhile and my
opinion will be listened to and not mocked.
 This leads to feeling more self-worth, higher selfesteem, and more interaction in class.
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Self-fulfilling prophecy (Crochunis et al,
2002).
◦ If a teacher believes that the student cannot learn
lives up to the lowered expectations of the teacher
◦ If a teacher believes that the student can learn –
and learn well, the student will live up to the higher
expectations
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We all learn in different ways. When my type
of learning is used, I can excel with that topic
when compared to others in the classroom
(from my own personal experience and my
observations in the classroom).
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Cultural Deficit Theory (Crochunis et al,
2002).
 Some students can’t achieve because of their culture,
ethnicity, language or race.
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Teachers can see students from minorities as
unable to learn/keep up with the rest of the
class.
◦ This leads back to the self-fulfilling prophecy
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Understand that the language a child brings
to school is valuable to that child’s home
(Delpit 2006).
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Self-fulfilling prophecy (Crochunis et al,
2002).
◦ I have seen this at work – with myself when I was a
student in middle/high school and with my
students.
◦ When there are higher expectations, the student
knows that the teacher believes in him/her and will
live up to those expectations.
◦ When those expectations are lowered, the student
sees him/herself as less worthy and will sink to the
levels of the lowered expectations.
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Choices – some students may not be allowed
to make many choices in their schooling (like
choosing class electives) (Helmer, S. & Eddy,
C. 2003).
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Parent involvement – the dominant American
culture wants parents to be involved in their
child’s education (Helmer et al. 2003).
◦ Many cultures believe that the teacher is the expert
and does not need parental help
◦ Many parents support teachers – in differing ways
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The following are issues that I have
experienced/seen taking place in the
classrooms of my colleagues, the hallways of
the school, and my own classroom.
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Eye contact
◦ some cultures believe that eye contact with an adult
is disrespectful
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Proximity
◦ some cultures value individual space
◦ other cultures value closeness (Darn 2005).
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Play
◦ some cultures value play as a learning experience
◦ some cultures see play as a waste of school time –
the student is there to learn
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Teacher prejudices – we are used to our own
culture. We tend to judge other
cultures/students based on OUR culture – not
theirs.
Stereotyping
Discrimination/Racism
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Dialects
◦ My own English dialect tends to be different from
that of my students because I am from a different
state than most of my students.
◦ This leads to some confusion when I use a phrase
or term that is common to my community but rarely
used in my students’ communities.
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Cooperative Learning
◦ Some students don’t know how to work well in
group
◦ While still other students may not know how to
work well on their own
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Crochunis, T., Erdey, S., & Swedlow, J. (2002).
The diversity kit. Education Alliance: Brown
University
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Darn, S. (2005, February) Aspects of nonverbal
communication. Retrieved from
http://iteslj.org/Articles/Darn-Nonverbal/
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Delpit, L. (2006) Other people’s children: cultural
conflict in the classroom. New York: New Press
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Helmer, S. & Eddy, C. (2003). Look at me when I
talk to you: ESL learners in non-ESL classrooms.
Don Mills, Ontario: Pippin.

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