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Educational Psychology. Chapter 5: The Impact of Culture and Community. Today’s Multicultural Classroom. Individuals, Groups, and Society

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educational psychology

Educational Psychology

Chapter 5: The Impact of Culture and Community

today s multicultural classroom
Today’s Multicultural Classroom

Individuals, Groups, and Society

  • From a cultural deficit model (assuming other cultures did not prepare children) to a multicultural education model (which expands curricula and activities to include other cultures) our system has progressed.

American Cultural Diversity

  • Culture and Group Membership
    • The group creates the culture and communicates the culture to the members. Each of us is a member of many groups. E.g. I am a white, Appalachian, college-educated, southern, American, Episcopalian, working-class, male.
  • Cautions in Interpreting Cultural Differences
    • Membership in a certain group does not dictate behavior but makes certain types of behavior more probable. Stereotypes, assumptions, and generalizations are dangerous and destructive.
social class difference
Social Class Difference

Socioeconomic Status

      • Socioeconomic Status (SES) is a sociological term to describe variations in wealth, power, privilege, and prestige

Who are the Poor?

  • In 1994, more than one in four American children lived in poverty. That is comparable to modern rates.
    • Most of these children are white, and living in rural areas.
    • While the numbers of African American and Hispanic children living in poverty is smaller, the percentages are much higher.

SES and Achievement

  • There are correlations of SES and achievement, however, family involvement and attitudes have a great bearing on this, too.
social class difference cont d
Social Class Difference, cont’d.

SES and Achievement

  • Low Expectations—Low Self-Esteem
    • If a teacher assumes a student is less bright by the way they speak or dress, the teacher may not call on them, or challenge them, etc.
  • Learned Helplessness
    • Low-SES students may come to believe that doing well in school is hopeless. Children, especially low-SES children of color can come to believe it is impossible to advance in the mainstream.
  • Resistance Cultures
    • Some culture can define success in school as betrayal or “selling out.”
  • Tracking
    • Low-SES students can be taught differently, which is a very predictable way of making low-achievement for any children.
  • Childrearing Styles (E.g. puzzle pieces)
    • Differences in raising children is the oldest explanation (and perhaps most tired) for why low-SES students struggle. However some class differences are clear in language and other development. Beware, this can easily turn to victim-blaming.
ethnic and racial differences
Ethnic and Racial Differences

Ethnicity Defined – Groups in terms of common nationality, culture, or language.

The Changing Demographics

      • There is currently a very large immigrant population boom in the U.S. By 2020, half of the population of the country will be of ethnicities other than white Americans.

Cultural Differences

      • Culture has vast differences. Few of which are visible.
  • Cultural Conflicts
    • A study of interaction of guidance counselors with students of same or different cultures found that non-verbal communication can be destructive in interaction and relationship building.
  • Cultural Compatibility
    • Some cultures have traits or foci that enhance the children’s success in American school systems.
  • Working with Families and Communities
    • Find ways to learn about the working families and the community’s culture.
ethnic and racial differences cont d
Ethnic and Racial Differences , cont’d.

Ethnic and Racial Differences in School Achievement

The Legacy of Discrimination

      • American school systems have a terrible track record for multicultural education. The book sites the story of Linda Brown and others who filed suit in Brown v. Board of Education
  • Continuing Prejudice
      • Several studies of late continue to prove that though great strides have been made, our dominant culture is one of prejudice and generalization.
  • The Development of Prejudice
      • We are not in agreement how prejudice develops, but we know that it can be positive or negative and is difficult to combat. It is a part of schema, or organizing of information by the brain.
  • Continuing Discrimination
      • While prejudice is an attitude, discrimination is a behavior. Black and Hispanic students are tracked in less engaging math and science classes through school, thus education becomes a discriminatory institution in the U.S.
women and men differences in the classroom
Women and Men: Differences in the Classroom

Gender-Role Identity

Typically, men and women have different styles of personalities. However, in school, often certain ideas on gender are reinforced.

  • Gender-Role Stereotyping in the Preschool Years
    • Early childhood is where we often begin with different treatment of boys and girls. Boys are pushed away sooner, and girls are protected longer.
  • Gender Bias in the Curriculum
    • Children continue to learn about what it means to be male or female. Textbooks are a major source of gender bias in school. Often men are depicted in illustrations, and women are left out, or are only shown at home , behaving passively, or expressing fear or incompetence. Males, the opposite.
  • Sex Discrimination in Classrooms
    • Lots of research on the issue has shown that males are more vocal, and encouraged to be so in the class than females. Teachers ask more questions of males and give more feedback. By the time students reach college, males are twice as likely to initiate comments in class as females.
women and men differences in the classroom cont d
Women and Men: Differences in the Classroom, cont’d.

Sex Differences in Mental Abilities

      • Most studies find few differences in boys and girls motor and mental development before preschool. School years are where the gaps are made.
  • Sex and Mathematics
    • There has been a shrinking gap between males and females in math achievement, overall. However, SES, race, and ethnicity have large variances in achievement in math.
    • Additionally, males, specifically white males account for 80% of math and science professionals.

Eliminating Gender Bias

    • Studies show that there are methods to help eliminate gender bias, such as balancing cooperative and competitive activities in math instruction. Watching for unintended biases in your classroom, and closely surveying the textbooks are other good methods.
language differences in the classroom
Language Differences in the Classroom

Dialects – Language variation spoken by a culture.

  • Dialects and Language Skills
    • Pronunciation can lead to difficulties with language and understanding. In “black English” and southern dialects often do not pronounce the end of words. It is not wrong, it is how students speak.
  • Dialects and Teaching
    • The best approach to teaching with dialects seems to be understanding and accepting children’s dialects while teaching the standard form of English.
language differences in the classroom cont d
Language Differences in the Classroom, cont’d.


  • What Does Bilingualism Mean?
    • Literally it means speaking two languages, however it also means balancing cultures, behaviors, expectations, and identities.
  • Becoming Bilingual
    • Children learn two languages best in early childhood, and can be functionally bilingual by age 4. It requires continued study for a student to maintain both face-to-face and academic bilingualism.
  • Bilingual Education
    • Should non-English speaking children be taught in other languages? Performance of non-English students for English-centered education is poor, but debate continues. Neither the book nor I will assert an answer here.
  • Research on Bilingual Programs
    • Research indicates that bilingual programs are successful, however political debate makes it difficult to assert a standard for it. What is appropriate for each child should be the driving force for each teacher.
creating culturally compatible classrooms
Creating Culturally Compatible Classrooms

Social Organization

      • Social organization is one way of organizing classrooms to suit learners of a culture, which mirrors the needs, values, and uses of the culture. E.g. Hawaiian children do better in small cooperative groups, as Hawaiian society depends heavily on collaboration and cooperation.

Learning Styles

      • Learning styles are another dimension of classroom adaptation.
  • Hispanic Americans
    • Early research suggests that Mexican Americans prefer holistic, concrete, social approaches to learning. Other research suggests family and group loyalty is important.
  • African Americans
    • Summary of research suggest that learning styles of African Americans is inconsistent with teaching of most schools including visual/global rather than verbal analytic approach.
  • Native Americans
    • Some Native Americans appear to have a more global and visual leering style. E.g. Navajo students prefer to hear story entirely before having questions.
  • Asian Americans
    • There has been little research on Asian Americans because they have been stereotyped as a “successful minority” in the educational system.
  • Criticisms of Learning-Styles Research
    • Learning Styles Research is dangerous. It can easily lead to assumptions and generalizations. Remember that no individual’s behavior or preference for learning may not be what is considered optimal for his or her race, ethnicity, or class. These are only statistical analyses.
creating culturally compatible classrooms cont d
Creating Culturally Compatible Classrooms, cont’d.

Sociolinguistics – the study of courtesies and conventions of conversation across cultures.

  • Participation Structures
    • Students must clearly understand and be able to participate in the communication and education of the group.
  • Sources of Misunderstandings
    • School structures are more similar to some students than others. This means that some students are more at ease in school than others, and are more likely to understand the “unwritten rules.”

Bringing It All Together: Teaching Every Student

  • Know Your Students
    • Class, race, gender, ethnicity, orientation, language, etc, are things you need to know and understand about your students.
  • Respect Your Students
    • Empathizing and valuing the differences in diversity, and understanding that your students have lived a different life than you, and bring valid experiences to the class.
  • Teach Your Students
    • Every child has gifts, talents and potiental. Use it to own your students’ success.