CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN CLASSES
By Melvia F. Miller
One of the biggest mistakes that people make in business or education is to assume that cultural differences do not matter. Or they think that they must become “color blind” in order to get along with all types of people.
Either approach is a mistake, as such reasoning is not based upon the realities of society or the skills needed for successful relationships.
The major news about the ugly incident with TV show commentator Don Imus demonstrates how serious it is to learn how to handle relationships in a culturally diverse society. Had he possessed a better knowledge of “diversity”—he would not have let his mouth get him in so much trouble in the world of broadcasting. Shouldn’t he have known not to refer to SISTAHS ---being a white man at that—in such a derogatory way? Imus is not the only one in the broadcasting or publishing business who has degraded one race of people or another. It is a serious problem throughout our society.
In our schools, on our jobs, in our businesses, and in society in general--- there are people from a variety of "cultural groups"--- ranging from various races, such as:
CAUCASIANS, ORIENTALS, etc.....to religious persuasions, and foreign nationalities.
The U.S.A. has increasingly become a nation composed of a wide variety of different ethnic groups and cultures--- including: Asians, Hispanics, African-Americans, Arabs, and others. In our classrooms today, we find a global conglomerate of races and cultures of people.
Understanding cultural differences helps us to develop better relationships, to improve communication and to manage business affairs in more effective ways. Each culture has its own style of behaviors--- showing emotions, expressing humor, listening , & learning. We need to begin to understand these cultural differences in order to be more effective educators, managers, and leaders….and to be able to solve human relations conflicts.
WHAT IS CULTURE ?
The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, styles, music, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought. These patterns, traits, and products considered as the expression of a particular class, community, ethnic group or population.
For example: Cultures express themselves in these forms:
"Chinese Food".... "Latin music" ... or
Differences in value systems, communication & language styles attitudes may effect schooling, relationships, and sales from one culture to another.
Culture shapes our attitudes, values, learning-styles, and behavior. It effects the way we communicate with each other, the way we negotiate, the way we buy and sell, and the way we handle schooling.
For example--- “sales pitches” … that work perfectly well with one cultural group, but may not work at all in another culture. Just because people speak English (as a second language) does not mean that we all understand it in the same way.
In several research studies, including one conducted by the Carnegie Institute and another by the Bureau of Vocational Guidance---they found that most people (more than 80%) lost their jobs because of inability to "get along with others." They also estimate that at least 66% of business failures are because of poor human relations.
Low achievement is a big problem for all races and groups of students, but there are some problems that are peculiar to minority students.
The bottom line for education is that emphasis must be placed upon “building skills.” Students must learn the basic skills necessary for learning to read and do math. If they do not gain such skills, all else will be extremely difficult for them.
Likewise, acquiring skills to understand people of different cultural groups, of different religious beliefs, and simply learning good human relation skills --- requires that we learn basic social skills. Although there are numerous books on the topic of … ”how to teach students of various racial and cultural groups”, far too many schools do not employ these concepts and methods.
Our schools must update & improve their old methods and curriculum, in order to offer courses, books, workshops,and opportunities that are more relevant to modern real-world challenges. Studies indicate that the most effective ways of teaching are based upon "group collaboration"---such as: games, role-playing, and incorporating the arts (music, poetry, painting, etc.)
Edutainment is a term coinage, similar to ' infotainment,' that expresses the marriage of education and entertainment in a work or presentation such as a television program or a Web site. The most educationally effective children's programs on television (Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Mr. Rogers) could be classed as edutainment.
The many separate societies that emerged around the globe differed markedly from each other, and many of these differences persist to this day. Because of technology and advanced modes of transportation, we are now exposed to all types of people from a variety of ethnic groups and religions.
Often times, we lack understanding of other cultures and do not know how to work with or build good relationships with those who are different from our own group. The modern phenomena of dealing in a world that consists of a variety of "cultural and ethnic groups" -- is what we refer to when we talk about "cultural diversity."
In far too many cases, the school curriculum is filled with lessons, pictures, and stories about and of the White (Caucasian) people. Blacks, Hispanics, Asians (and other people of color) have traditionally been invisible in most textbooks, teaching aides, films, etc. Studies show that African-Americans (Blacks) and other so-called minority students perform better when they see role models, photos, achievers, leaders, etc. who are just like them. The schools need to present more stories that inspire, encourage and show Blacks (and other minorities) in a positive and successful light. We need classes in African-American History and more emphasis upon Multi-Cultural Studies, which includes presentations of diverse racial and ethnic groups.
Additionally, education should help promote “high self and race esteem.” Students are inspired to learn of positive achievers of their own race…as well as of other groups. When self-esteem is at a high level, people are easy to get along with. They are cheerful, generous, tolerant, and open to new ideas.
TEACHERS, WORKSHOP LEADERS, YOUTH GROUP SUPERVISORS and others who are teaching classes must become more conscious of including a variety of ethnic and racial groups into the learning exercises.
*BREAK FREE OF THE OLD TRADITIONS OF "sit & listen" or having someone else deliver long lectures in front of a group....
Melvia Miller is an educator and author ...
WHO HAS CREATED MANY PROGRAMS & SERVICES FOR THE PROMOTION OF
"MULTI-CULTURAL" AWARENESS & HARMONY.
Click here to get details on CALENDAR OF CULTURAL EVENTS online.
SHE IS THE AUTHOR OF
another BOOK TITLED:
"EDU-TAINMENT GAME BOOK"
---a manual filled with exercises, activities and facts about MULTI-CULTURAL nd African-American History, cultural issues and educational activities.
Click here to get details on CALENDAR OF CULTURAL EVENTS online.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO READ A STORY
BASED UPON MULTI-CULTURAL ISSUES,
"New & Different Friends"
...is the classic story written of this genre.
The story is included in her books:
EBONY & IVORY
ALL FOLKS WERE CREATED EQUAL
For more details on this unique book, visit
Phone = 1-888-652-0194
Melvia Miller is also a contributing editor for the
nationally distributed magazine:
"Fund & Edutainment Guide"
(published in San Diego, CA)
Melvia Miller has articles in the Summer 2007 edition.
She writes on this topic and EDUTAINMENT.
Copies of the Summer 2007 magazine are
available on-line and in print.
DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY of the MAGAZINE... at ---