When I think about teaching in the diverse classroom, my response is two-fold. The first part of it is that the diverse classroom is inevitable – not in a good or bad way, but simply a matter of fact. Society is evolving toward less homogeneity, racially and culturally speaking. The second part of it is that it makes me glad. Diversity facilitates learning – not just in the traditional content sense but also in the sense of learning about the world. Children first learn the sort of things I am referring in their families, which in turn “prepare[s] children for expectations of how the world works outside the family and how it will interact with them” (Chapter 6). In the classroom, children get to practice what they first learned with their families. A diverse classroom simply offers children more and different opportunities to practice those skills.
Unfortunately, the conversations taking place around immigration in this country sometimes obscure and neglect the question of education. Concerns about immigrants, particularly illegal ones, allegedly exploiting the welfare system, which reveals ignorance of how one obtains such benefits. It also forgets that education is a fundamental human right (Cole, 2017). It also seems to ignore the value that this country has previously placed on allowing immigrants to retain or preserve their cultural heritage (Chapter 5). This is disheartening, this devaluing of the diversity that once characterized the ‘melting pot’ of America (Chapter 5). With regard to acculturation in the classroom, I do not think it hurts to find common ground and common values on which to build relationships. Being able to adopt or borrow different traits from different cultures allows one to appreciate other points of view. Banks (2015) notes that in the past in America education and school were used to acculturate cultural/racial/ethnic minorities. This approach was utilized in later years to reduce prejudice, misunderstanding, and hatred (Banks, 2015). The reduction of prejudice seems like a good motivation for employing some acculturation.
- Banks, J. A. (2015). Cultural diversity and education. Routledge.
- Cole, M. (Ed.). (2017). Education, equality and human rights: Issues of gender, ‘race’, sexuality,
disability and social class (4th ed.). Routledge.