The One Thing You Must Remember as a Teacher in Today’s Classroom
The growing number of immigrants in the United States has created an interesting challenge for American schools. Multiculturalism is by its very nature based on the premise of social equality and an appreciation of all cultures. By advocating a multicultural approach to education, we foster a positive environment that encourages both individual uniqueness and pride in cultural diversity.
It’s true—one of the greatest challenges for teachers is to teach students from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. But the importance of maintaining cultural diversity in today’s classrooms is absolutely essential in a diverse society, where values and experiences can value based on race and ethnicity.
In today’s classroom, you as a teacher need to provide a range of learning options to meet all your students’ needs. Teachers must be prepared to promote unity between students in their classroom and at the same time, celebrate cultural differences.
Culture has been described as the “software of the mind.” In his studies of intercultural cooperation, social psychologist Geert Hofstede asserts that all individuals are “mentally programmed” through their culture. The programming “code” is detected through cultural indicators. These include values, which are attributes believed essential for survival; heroes, real or fictional, who exemplify those values; symbols, including gestures, language, and pictures that have special meaning; rituals, which may include religion or table manners; and folklore, including sayings, stories, and norms, which are the societal rules that members follow for acceptance and success within a particular culture. People who share common mental programming share culture.
Now looking through cultural diversity through this lens, can you see why a “melting pot” environment is neither productive nor desirable? Ignoring cultural differences can profoundly impact the learning environment. It’s better to value and respect diversity in the classroom. This will help us broaden our understanding of the human experience. Sensitivity to cultural codes is a powerful tool for success in a blended society.
In your classroom, you’ll need to ensure that you incorporate methods of teaching that accommodate the various beliefs and cultural notions that students bring to school. You’ll learn to understand your students’ culture and get to know them as individuals. And it will be important for you to ensure that you treat all students equally and have high expectations for each, so that they will all strive to reach their full potential.