Learning Communities, 10/16/2008

This week’s readings focused on parent-teacher involvement and multi-cultural education.  Both readings held some very valuable information that highlight challenges we will no doubt face when we become teachers.  I read “Social Class Differences in Family-School Relationships: The Importance of Cultural Capital” first and it brought up a lot of things from my own childhood and my parents involvement in my schooling, as well as watching my niece and nephew grow up and how involved their parents are in their schooling.  I thought that comparing schools from two different socio-economic backgrounds was significant, because it’s east to say that parents should be more involved but that doesn’t always take into account the availability of the parents- both my parents worked full time and it was a rare luxury that they were able to come in and see me in school, whereas other kids, whose mom’s were stay-at-home, came in often, if not everyday.  Those kids got a special addition to their education- a supporting parent in the classroom to understand what they were doing and take part in it, and it no doubt affected their education in positive ways.  However, this is not to say all parents are great helps in their kids education.  The article points out that some teachers didn’t appreciate parental help because they put too much pressure on their kids and made them more anxious. It made me think of a child’s soccer game and parents being asked to leave because they are getting too emotionally involved and angry about it.  It’s misguided effort because instead of letting a kid explore and develop at their own pace with encouragement, they are held to ridiculous expectations that no child can achieve, and set up to fail or at least feel bad about themselves.

It may not seem like it, but this ties greatly with the second piece we read, “Approaches to Multicultural Education”.  While some kids get less out of their education due to lack of parent involvement, kids can also get less out of an education because they are not relating to the material they are being taught.  The piece we read highlights the need and struggle for a multicultural education, one that focuses on the histories and experiences of many different kinds of people, not just white people. (Interestingly enough, my niece who attends a private, Christian first-grade classroom, was recently taught that the Pilgrims came to American because they wanted to worship God and England’s King didn’t worship God. I’m guessing the Irish Potato Famine also had a lot to do with it.)  Of all the approaches discussed in the reading, I identified and would like to use the “transformation approach”. To me, this is the best method because you are teaching kids to look at an event or idea from a variety of perspectives. Not only is this important for including multicultural understanding to class material but you are also instilling critical thinking into students. By giving them a variety of perspectives, they have to be able to process it while also considering not just “the other side” but many sides.  Simply adding in literature from Black or Hispanic authors doesn’t give students a rich understanding of those groups, but making sure they most (if not all) units include approaches to class material from more than two points of view you give kids a healthier and richer understanding of the variety of peoples, thoughts, attitudes and ideas that make up our country and history.

One thing I would really love is access for more multicultural curriculum, especially for first and second graders.  I would love to inform my niece of the other reasons that drove the Pilgrims here, and that the “ideals” they stood for weren’t actually given to anyone else. It’s another classic American misconception I don’t want her, or any kids I teach, to grow up believing.

One thought on “Learning Communities, 10/16/2008

  1. Megan,
    I appreciate your personal connection to this article. Also, yes, I believe that the Banks article begins to answer the question: What can we do about it? So many teachers ask this, and so, well–here is a place to start. Developing transformational curriculum takes time, intelligence, research, and courage as we bring up things that may be difficult to talk about. The children deserve nothing less from us.
    I don’t see comments from others in your blog group. Am I missing something?

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