Friday, June 6, 2008

What Teachers Should Know

After reading about the lack of knowledge from teachers on the diversity of students across the nation, I reflected back on this article which I viewed as attempting to explain why there was confusion on diversity. America has always been a diversified country, unlike the old European countries, the US was discovered and populated with people from all over the world. In the past predominantly the trend had always been for more whites than other races, but as the article suggested, there is no more clear cut race, indeed how could there be? People travel, merge and separate, travel again in a never-ending cycle.
I remember one of our classes where there was a discussion on how to decide the number of students that graduate from a class; which was reported as percentage graduated in the high schools. It involved the same concepts addressed in the article, namely that of transiency and racial and economic segregation. The discussion also touched upon aging and the fact that most voters for school budgets are retired and less than likely willing to support budget increases and improvement in the school systems, since they don’t have children going to the schools and do not wish to spend more from their own often limited income.
To me the most important point of the article was the idea of “switch[ing] from race to national origin.”* I agree with the article’s statement that it is more beneficial to the teacher and to the students to know more about one’s country of origin than to simply focus on race. I say this in order to embrace, expose, learn and teach other students about the differences, similarities, facts, and beliefs present in all nationalities. By learning a student’s origin, researching and then interacting with the student and his/her family the teacher will be able to break through myths and preconceptions, find the strengths and struggles, hence be in a better position to assist or bring out the best in his/her students.
*Harold Hodgkinson "Educational Demographics: What Teachers Should Know" (2000, Educational Leadership, vol 58 no 4, p. 10)

1 comment:

Ally said...

I actually have a big problem with the conception of statistics about race, age, or religion. I started to write an article, which was my way to vent, but I never did anything else with it. Why does there have to be this segregation of every form of diversity? What are people looking for? Am I that ignorant that I cannot understand this concept of separation? I don't know I just know that it really bothers me.
A good idea came up in class today, which was to look at the past two years of your students test records only, nothing else, just to have an idea of the strength and weaknesses. I do agree with that form of documentation but I don't want to know anything else. Once I have that student in the class I will then engage in a conversation where my questions about religion, race and all the other aspects of the child would be answered. I don't need a stat to tell me I will have 78% Hispanic, 20% Black and 2% other students, along with 10% proficient and 90% below proficiency.