Racial and Cultural Difference in the Classrooom

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24th May 2017 Psychology Reference this

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Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

Abstract

The main topic of this paper is the racial and cultural differences between kids in the classroom setting. It points out that this is a social issue in our society today. The three main points that are pointed out are academic achievement, classroom behavior, and teaching quality. All of these three areas affect one another. Academically, whites are more driven to succeed as when it is classroom behavior, blacks and Mexicans seem to have more problems in this area. It also explains how the teaching quality influences these two areas. There are ways that teachers are able to help bridge the gap between races when it comes to academic achievement and classroom behavior. These clues are helping to solve this dilemma between students of different cultures.

Don’t Judge A Book by Its Cover Research

Our natural instinct before getting to know a person is judging them. Whether it be by the way they dress, how they walk, or even the color of their skin. It is an issue that has been ongoing for years in our society. Now making judgments on people is having an effect on the classroom environment for students. The three main concerns are academic achievement, classroom behavior, and the teaching quality. Teachers have to find ways to deal with these dilemmas; looking for any ideas that can be applied to the classroom setting to help bridge the gap between races and social differences. If this is not one of the important objectives as educators, it will have negative results in the future for students transitioning into the real world.

Achieving academic excellence is a main goal for every student. They strive to be the best they can be. Unfortunately, when we look at how some students struggle in different areas of school and ways to improve it, the academic scores seem to always get categorized by race. In one study in An Exploration of the Relationship between Ethnicity, Attention Problems, and Academic Achievement, “Caucasian students had higher achievement ratings than African American students, who in turn had higher ratings than Hispanic students” (3). It seems in most schools, whites are more likely to achieve higher goals, or standards, and move on to bigger and better things, such as college. On the other hand, because African-Americans and Hispanics do not have the drive or patience like the whites, they are less likely to achieve goals. One solution to help bridge the gap is stated by Patricia Gandara, an education professor at the University of California:

“Sometimes the most effective anti racist strategy for helping students of color to navigate high school and move on to college is to give them opportunities to be ‘cocooned’ for some period of time in contexts that allow them to analyze in a safe environment what it means to be a racial-ethnic group member in and out of school and to draw inspiration and support from those who have traveled the same road before them” (3, Teachers Advised to “Get Real” on Race).

For example, seeing other students struggle and finding help to improve is motivating, and thus gives the struggling students hope that they can do better. When students are not given actual life examples of others struggling, it makes them less motivated to try in school. As we analyze the academic gap between different students, our educational systems need to start finding solutions or methods to help improve the student’s performance in all of the different cultural backgrounds. A common battle that happens in the classroom are the language barriers that students face. With a variety of kids having different cultures, students speaking the same language is hard to come across. In the United States, the dominant language is English. If all of the lectures given by the teachers are hard for students to understand because they are from Asia, China, or Mexico, a solution needs to be put in place. Removing the language barrier gives all students equal learning opportunities. For example, one word in the English language can mean something completely different to a student of the Chinese culture. Racial stereotypes and language barriers are only a few areas that need to be addressed to help improve academic performance.

Poor academic scores can be greatly influenced by behavior. It has a lot to deal with how each individual child is brought up. Each family has their own morals and personal beliefs in which they live by. For example, if a child’s parents are Catholic, that child is more likely to become a Catholic. Because of the child’s Catholic upbringing, their choices and decisions will be affected and thus influence their life. Religious backgrounds may have effects on how students deal with other students when they encounter a disagreement with their strong beliefs. According to the article Ethnicity, Attention, Educational, by David L. Rabiner, it explains, “African American students had significantly higher ratings than Caucasian and Hispanic students on Oppositional Behavior, Attention Problems, and Hyperactivity, whereas Caucasian and Hispanic students did not differ significantly on these sub-scales” (3). Some behavioral issues are genetically related, while others are by choice. Kids that have behavior problems do not care if they proceed onto to college or get a decent job that could help them financially. Instead, they would rather not try and do whatever they want. A negative effect of this behavior can lead to the students getting involved with crime related activities. Some activities include drugs, alcohol, and gangs. Unfortunately, in reality, these students tend to be more of the minority groups, such as blacks and Mexicans. If educators show students that school can have a positive effect on them in the long run, the percentage of these certain behaviors will start to decrease. In return, this will make our students more prepared to handle all types of situations, like dealing with co-workers of a different sex or ethnic background.

The main goal of a teacher is to teach kids the importance of learning, and also how to deal with poor behavior. Instructors should encourage their students to have high academic scores and help them achieve that goal by making sure the kids understand the material that is taught. A problem teachers face is making sure that no students are left behind. A lot of pressure is put on the teachers to have all their students learn the material. It is a different situation when it comes to college students. Once the students are on campus, they get the feeling that they are not welcomed (1, Diversity and Complexity in the Classroom). Even as kids starting grade school, they do not receive the welcoming feeling as they should. Some research has been conducted to give teachers advice on how to handle these types of racial situations within the classroom. In the article, Diversity and Complexity in the Classroom, by Barbara Gross Davis, explains some strategies that teachers can follow to deal with these issues. These are the General Strategies that can be taken:

* “Recognize any biases or stereotypes you may have absorbed.

* Treat each student as an individual, and respect each student for who he or she is.

* Rectify any language patterns or case examples that exclude or demean any groups.

* Do your best to be sensitive to terminology.

* Get a sense of how students feel about the cultural climate in your classroom.

* Introduce discussions of diversity a department meetings” (1-3).

When it comes to classroom discussion, a problem that seems to be overlooked is the opportunities for each student to contribute to the discussion. This problem usually effects the lower class students, they tend to be intimidated and thus do not participate. Some ways that teachers can avoid this is to recognize the students who raise their hands. Instructors need to avoid calling on the same sex or same people time and time again. Also, push students to give more complete explanations for any given question. Although the lower class students, also called “stupid” by classmates, appear to be shy and intimidated, it is possible that is a part of their culture. According to the article Addressing cultural diversity in the classroom, by Rob Merlino, it explains that an Asian student tends to be shy because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves. This behavior is because in their culture, family/group needs are valued more. Although this is not always the case, teachers and educators need to address and solve these issues.

As a society, people tend to take one look at a person an immediately make an assumption before even getting to know them. When students of a minority come to a school with the majority being a different race, it is intimidating. The minority students get the feeling that they are not welcomed because they are “labeled” as different. This is a matter that everyone needs to change, but because it is not handled we still deal with racial and cultural differences in our world today. Unfortunately, our students see this “labeling” and apply it in the classroom. The result is having a negative effect on academic performance, classroom behavior, and even the teaching quality. Academically, there is too much of a gap between races on performance levels. With the classroom behavior, students need to realize that poor actions will not make them successful in the future. With these only being two of the battles that are faced by educational system, teacher’s need to incorporate into their curriculum how to broaden their lessons that will be understood by all cultures. The main focus is to start analyzing the situation and then apply methods to make our children more knowledgeable and better equipped to handle what the real world brings.

Discussion

Diversity and cultural differences in the classroom is a battle. Within the United States, everyone is given the rights. One of them is the right to learn. No one is discriminated for their drive to get a better education. Although, making sure that everyone one in the classroom understands the material is an issue. Like I stated earlier on in the paper, it is fact that whites have a better performance academically, while blacks and a few other minorities have poor classroom behavior that affects their academic scores. As a college student, I can understand where this is coming from and some problems. I came from a small farming-based community, where whites were the majority. Before coming to college, I only knew of three black people and a few Mexicans. Now that I am in college, I see a lot of different types of people and their cultures they bring into the classroom.

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