Differences and Similarities Teaching in a Diverse World
Differences• No matter who you are, how you define yourself, or what culture you came from, you will be teaching people who are different from you.• There are many social, experiential, cultural, physical, intellectual, socio-economic, and so forth forces active among people such that everyone is "different." Also, every person within a group that has been societally defined is different.
LogicPardon the ancient reference...but Mr. Spock was all aboutlogic.What makes sense and is logical varies from person to personby reason of both outside forces and internal tendencies.
An example: Logic and Economic ClassRuby Payne (A Framework for Understanding Poverty) arguesthat each economic class has a culture that is largely invisible toitself.Part of the difficulties we face as educators is the potential formisunderstandings because of economic class differences.Are people poor because they have a deficient culture? No. The“culture” of poverty, according to Celano and Neuman, is a“rational response” [aka logical] to the conditions of poverty—in other words, people who deal with unmitigated poverty reactin certain ways and these ways are reasonable under thecircumstances.
For example, story tellingPayne points out that people from different classes tell stories indifferent ways and for different reasons.In wealthier homes that use the language of schooling, stories are toldchronologically or they move directly toward a point.In homes that use nonacademic dialects, stories are told for the purposeof entertainment or to reinforce a relationship between speaker andlistener. When you have little or no money, relationships are your onlysecurity, so you reinforce them all the time. You need friends who willtake you in if you get evicted or who will lend you money when the cardies. Therefore the stories are told not from “beginning to end”chronologically but the most emotionally interesting aspect is usuallypresented first.
Without knowing about different narrative structures(storytelling conventions) people from different economic classes might misunderstand each others stories.
Doctor: Patient: • Uses academic • Uses language nonacademic • Expects stories dialect • Storytelling is to be told in chronological primarily about order relationships, not • Feels impatient getting across when patient information • May not know appears to talk without an how the doctor apparent point wants medical information to be presented Lots of room for misunderstanding, frustration, and disrespect. Yet within each culture their form of storytelling has logic.
Time Perception of time is another area in which there can be differences between individuals and groups of people.
Two understandings of time...Clock time Experience timeThis is academic time; certain Events end when they are readyevents begin and end at certain to end (emotionally, socially,times, no matter what is etc.). Dont go onto another thinghappening in terms of peoples until this thing has ended. It isemotions or the time it takes for rude to end an event beforesomeone to express him or participants are ready to end it.herself. It is important to stay Clock time is secondary most ofaware of what time it is so you the time. This is logical becausecan meet all your obligations. relationships with others is really This is logical because people important and fundamental tohave responsibilities to meet and survival. Experience timeclock time allows you to expresses respect and caring foraccomplish these efficiently. others.
Crossing time boundariesIndividuals are not bound by the approach to time they wereraised with.Individuals with an experience time background can learn howto deal with clock time through jobs and other kinds ofinteractions with clock time institutions (schools, doctorsoffices, etc.).Individuals with a clock time background can learn to operatein experience time in situations where that is the norm. Thiscould include visits and social interactions with individuals whoare experience time-oriented.
TimeYet, when people from one time form approach people from anothertime form, many misunderstandings may arise.Both sets of people can feel disrespected.Experience time people feel disrespected when cut off due to timeconstraints.Clock time people feel disrespected when experience time people are"late" (because they were involved in another event that ended when itended).Both approaches to time have benefits. But in order to avoid feelingdisrespected and reacting negatively because of that perception ofdisrespect, it is important to know about these two ways of thinking.
Factors significant to thinking This is not information to memorize. It is information that shows you why people may be doing things that may not make sense to you.
Ability/disabilityEthnicityCulture People can choose to change howPolitical events they understand things,Historical eventsReligion particularly when they get moreSocioeconomic class information on why something isCharacteristics of inner life (e.g., as it is.neurological effects on thinking)EducationLanguage There are many factorsDialect Factors that contribute to how aParentingCommunity person thinks. TheEmotional characteristics following slides will coverFamily a few of them.Special talentsLocal geographyLife events When you initially meet someone andHobbies, interests you dont know about that person,Developmental stage hold off judgment until you understand their reasons for doing what they do.
Special talentsWhether a student is excellent in gymnastics, playing a musicalinstrument, doing advanced math, doing advanced scientificresearch, etc., these students think differently from those whodo not have an all-consuming special talent.Students with a strong talent are going to be spending most oftheir free time practicing and/or working in the area of theirtalent. As a result, school work may seem irrelevant... unless...the teacher decides to have this student learn the curriculumusing the talent as a spring board.It is logical in the minds of these people to spend hours andhours doing one thing and it may be difficult for them tounderstand people who dont do this.
Emotional characteristicsMood variances can dramatically affect peoples thought content:For people with anxiety, safety tends to be a major priority. Ignoring, or worse,denigrating, this priority creates a huge emotional barrier to learning.Depression makes most activities seem uninteresting or as if they are too mucheffort. They may have a difficult time choosing to engage in something. They mayalso have a sense of helplessness--"nothing I do ever works."People in a manic phase tend to overestimate their abilities and capacities. In thisphase, they feel capable of doing anything and everything.People with anger issues tend to interpret other peoples actions in relation tothemselves, assuming that other people intend to do wrong/insensitive/rudethings when the person with anger is not even part of another persons thoughtprocess. They believe that they have a right to control others. Therefore whensomeone doesnt do what this type of person wants, it is logical for this person toforce the issue.
Inner LifeThe characteristics of a persons brain can have a profound effect on onesthinking. Here are a couple of examples:People on the autism spectrum are often very sensitive to how clothing feels. Something that might be mildly annoying or not even noticeable to those not onthe autism spectrum may be impossible to live with for those on the spectrum. For example, cotton clothing is very soft, but clothing that has other fibers(spandex, polyester) has a rougher feel. It is logical, therefore, for anyone whohas this kind of sensitivity to feel completely frustrated if the clothing does notfeel right.People with dyslexia often have normal eyesight and hearing but then the brainprocesses communication-related information from the eyes and ears in anuntrustworthy manner--letters jump back and forth and sounds dont sort outinto meaning all that easily. They can experience huge frustration when theydont have clues in advance about what to expect or when they are made to feeldumb because they have to keep asking questions in order to understand what isbeing said. When others are aware of this and they are willing to give the personsome cues as to the topics being discussed and are willing to try two or threedifferent ways of explaining something without making it obvious why they aredoing this, the person with dyslexia will feel more comfortable.
Developmental stageAbstract stuff, such as mathematical algorithms that have notbeen experienced concretely, is complete nonsense to a personwho has not reached formal operations (Piaget).Its normal to be extremely interested in ones peers and theirreactions during adolescence. And it is therefore logical toconsider what ones peers would think when contemplatingdoing something.Sometime during the middle of life, people often get much lessinterested in doing things for no apparent reason, such asbusywork or letting someone else control their learning. It islogical for these folks to resist something that feels like b.s.
ParentingThere are four types of parenting: authoritarian, permissive, neglectful, and authoritative.Authoritarian parents attempt to control their kids excessively. Children often respond bybecoming fearful and unsure or by being rebellious. What makes sense to a person withthis background is either to avoid making people in authority angry or to exercise controlin the way of ones parents.Permissive parents want their kids to love them, so they dont say "no." Its logical, then,for kids raised by permissive parents to assume that they have the right to do what theywant regardless of others. They may not be able to set and complete goals for themselves.Neglectful parents might not provide basic needs (food, shelter, etc.) and/or they are notemotionally involved in their childrens lives. Neglectful parents do not know what ishappening in their childrens lives--even things that are potentially devastating. Therefore,they dont protect their children. Children raised in this type of home may feel angry asadults because they did not get what they needed as a youngster.Authoritative parents provide their children with love and limits. These parents are fairand they acknowledge their childrens feelings. Children from this kind of family are oftensuccessful as adults because of this strong background.
ParentingThe idea of learning about the four types of parenting is not to excusepeople from bad behavior.Instead, people raised in the various types of households may needmore information in certain areas. For example, children raised in apermissive home probably need more information and support in thearea of goal setting and achievement. Children raised in a neglectfulhome may not realize that other people can help them accomplish tasksand may not feel worthy of others help. Children raised in anauthoritative home may assume that other people have been raised in asimilar type home and then expect other people to be successful andconfident. Children raised in an authoritarian home may try to controlothers inappropriately or may not be able to stand up for themselves.
The upshotMany factors contribute to how a person understands theworld. Most of us have a combination of factors both inwardand outward that help to create our basic thinking.Being aware that all people think differently can help you tounderstand your students and your colleagues better. If youknow that another person thinks differently than you, then youcan get the clues you need to "walk in their shoes" in order tounderstand why a person does what he/she does. To keeprelationships positive, it is really important to assume thatevery person has reasons for what he/she is doing and thatthose reasons are sensible to that person. Hold off judgmentuntil you understand what is happening and why.