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Cultural Sensitivity Essay

1089 words - 5 pages

University of michigan
By the year 2020, 48% of urban schools will be comprised of students of color, and therefore, there is an increasing need for teachers to exhibit culturally sensitive behaviors in the classroom (Cross, 2003). In order to adapt in such an environment, practitioners must understand that cultural differences do not merely serve as a backdrop- they must be seriously considered in order to achieve success. In fact, key studies have found that individuals who have thrived in these classrooms exhibited a unique combination of personal characteristics (both innate and learned) and were aware of the challenging road ahead of them.
Considering the fact that urban schools ...view middle of the document...

Also, they were asked the goals of their curriculum (Cross, 2003).
The teachers answered that though they had extensive preparation in handling a diverse classroom, they still suffered from a cultural shock. Learning about race can not take place solely in classroom. One can understand concepts of diversity but one can only experience it once they are apart of it. "Although it is essential for teachers to have a mastery of content knowledge and pedagogical skills, these characteristics, alone, are not sufficient" (Wynn, 2005).
After being immersed into the classroom, these teachers learned many new necessary traits for being culturally sensitive. They learned to respect bilingual students, introduce diverse literature, and acknowledge background knowledge and experiences (Cross, 2003). Or so they said...
The experimenter concluded from this study that even though teachers say they hold on to ideals of a diverse classroom, students may in fact be "learning" racism. One teacher explained her version of diverse literature, "We do Black History Month and that's all that is expected" (Cross, 2003). That doesn't exactly sound like an extensive curriculum of diverse literature to me. Curriculum needs to be examined before-hand to make sure teachers aren't teaching racism by providing little time to address its existence (Cross, 2003). Urban elementary teachers should be taught straight from the beginning about social issues concerning urban schools. This way, cultural sensitivity can be implemented at any early stage in education (Leland, 2005).
Another article suggests that there ought to be national standards for urban teacher education. This way, all teachers could have this key knowledge and understanding embedded into their education (DeMarrais, 2005). For example, there is the Urban Education Program in Chicago (ACM). This program is aimed towards providing undergraduate students with internships and courses that address cultural pluralism. Students in this program work closely with trained mentors to analyze various methods of teaching in a diverse class setting. This program recognizes how challenging it can be for new teachers when immersed into an urban school and plans to educate future practitioners to be fully prepared for their time in the classroom (www.acm.edu).
To see information about an organization that is devoted to closing cultural gaps in the classroom, please visit www.inclusiveschools.org. This site addresses students varying needs and abilities not only in regards to race but also to mental and physical disabilities and provides tips for effective inclusion curricula.

Culturally Sensitive Learning: Design, implementation and evaluation ...

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