Culture in the Classroom Discussion – Fall 2010

diverseGrowing up, do you remember being introduced to other cultures as part of your schooling in any class besides social studies? Do you remember being asked to talk about your family and cultural customs as part of a classroom lesson? Did you have homework assignments that required you to speak to people in your family or community to learn more about your personal history so you could share that information with your class (again, in any class except social studies)?

Cultural inclusion or inclusion of the diverse learner is an important approach to reaching your students in a context that they can understand and in a way that interests them. Read this article on Strategies for Working with the Diverse Learner from Montgomery County Schools in Maryland, watch this video on culturally diverse learners, and contribute the following to the discussion: For those of you who have you had an experience where your culture was included in a classroom lesson: Did your teacher honor your culture and accurately represent you or were you embarrassed or uninspired by how the lesson was delivered? What can you offer as a learning opportunity to your teacher-classmates from that experience? If the experience was miserable for you, what could have changed it? How would approach the same or similar topic as a teacher? If the experience was great, what made it wonderful?

Make sure to include your first name and last initial to get credit for this post in GED 500.

64 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Gustavo Madrigal on November 4, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    I grew up in Mexico City, and moved to the US by age 10. Unfortunately, my elementary school in Mexico did not give us much information of other cultures. It was a privileged elementary school with kids and families of similar socio economic background. Perhaps diversity was later discussed in another grade level as I was in that school until 3rd grade. My cultural exposure in a classroom was here in the US. I started 5th grade here (I never had a 4th grade class. I was placed in 5th) and it was a culture shock as I met new people. I had never interacted with American children, African Americans, Chinese,Indians, Vietnamese, and even my own people, Mexicans, from other parts of Mexico. It was a positive experience, and luckily my US teachers did have us do activities that made us learn from other backgrounds and cultures.

    The schools I have attended in the US have been diverse with all sorts of people from different backgrounds. I remember in junior high we had a food day where those who wanted to participate could bring home made food from their ethnic background and present the dish and customs of the region. My mom prepared for my class a traditional dish we call “Cochinita Pibil” and it’s a Mexican dish that is hard to find in the US. At the time even the Mexicans in my class learned about a new dish from Mexico. It was such a great experience and I learned about other foods from around the world. I think that with food, it’s probably one of the best ways to immerse a student into a culture, and if I were a teacher I would make that activity as often as I could.

    My high school was an all boy Catholic high school, and fortunately the school was diverse as well. There cultural inclusion in the classroom was rich and vibrant. We often learned about other cultures, backgrounds and embraced learning it. Since it was a private school I suppose our teachers demanded more from our parents in the inclusion of diversity. As an example, permission slips would be sent out to parents so the students could spend the rest of a day after school with another students’ family from a different background. It was such a great experience as I got to go with my friend James Le’s house. James is Vietnamese, and his parents hospitality was amazing. During that time they took me to celebrate their new year and even gave me money as it is accustomed! I had to write a paper on what I had learned, and I loved it. Today James and I are great friends.

    By the time I arrived to college diversity was still a huge part of my education. The program I entered through Cal Poly is called EOP. EOP strives for cultural diversity and awareness and I was placed in a dormitory with a Korean Student named Josh. There we learned a lot about each other including that his name Josh is his american name. In another dorm I was placed with another student from Kyrgyzstan. I also dormed my second year with a Lebanese student. It was a very pleasant experience and I’m still friends with these people.

    Finally, the best part of my life that included diversity as I grew up was the opportunity I had to Study abroad in China and Italy as an undergrad. Here, we learned all sorts of things from each other. As an example, Chinese people in general knew about the US, but hardly would know anything from our US neighboring country Mexico. In class, and with our Chinese partners, we were able to learn not only of US customs but also from those I grew up with in Mexico. The same happened in Florence, Italy. I learned a bit on Italian language, and also Mandarin.

    If I were a teacher I would try to incorporate as much diversity learning as I could to bring everyone together. Even if a student feels uncomfortable with other cultures the student could at least be aware and have an understanding at the very least. But I believe that by immersing ourselves in cultural learning we open up and appreciate other cultures more easily.

    So in short for the most part, after Mexico, I’ve been surrounded by diversity throughout my life. It’s been a positive experience and all the teachers have been good at it in my opinion. I never felt left out, or saw any racism behavior from my teachers. Quite the opposite, they were eager to learn from me and what I had to bring culturally to the classroom. I’m thankful to know that some of my best friends are ethnically different from me, and we have a very strong friendship, and I must admit that these friendships were facilitated by my teachers. I’m forever grateful to all those teachers in my education that pushed for diversity inclusion in the classroom.

    Gustavo M.


    • Posted by Yoel on November 15, 2010 at 4:46 am

      I had a lot of diverse experiences throughout my education, mainly through my high school years. I remember when my history teacher assigned a project where wrote different countries on a piece of paper and placed it in a hat, then each student got to pick and had to do a report about it. I had a chance to do my country and it was fun because I brought some clothes from Indonesia and received extra credit for it. It was pretty much the only project I remember doing in my history classes. I learned so much about the different cultures there are in the world.
      I took a similar class at the University of La Verne about how important diversity is. As elementary teachers we need to express diversity in a positive way. Some examples might be bringing picture books and read to the class, and have students talk about what makes their culture so special. I would have to agree that it is important to reach this topic at a young age, so the students can be aware of the different cultures in the world.


  2. Posted by Jenifer Fukagawa on November 4, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    I do remember a lot of opportunities to learn about other cultures when I was in elementary school. I don’t really remember anything overly specific in terms of learning or sharing my own culture, but I wouldn’t say that I felt left out either. What I do remember more than anything else about diverse learners in elementary was Johnny our deaf classmate. Johnny’s mother arranged for a sign language teacher to be present at school each week and I remember our class spending a few hours a week learning sign language. Not only did this provide a way for Johnny to “fit in” and be included, it also gave the rest of us a really good understanding of what it was like for Johnny to learn compared to how we learned. We were allowed to ask questions and discuss what we thought about deaf people so that we could be informed and sensitive, rather than ignorant and indifferent. I can say with complete honesty that because of the way our school handled Johnny’s diverse learning abilities, I never thought of him as different or inferior in any way. I simply knew that when you talk to Johnny you make sure he can see your mouth, or you sign to him. It wasn’t seen as bad or good, it was just the way you talked to Johnny. The most important thing I believe teachers can do when addressing the needs of a diverse learner in any capacity is to keep the lines of communication open with everyone who is directly or indirectly involved. Parents, teachers, the student and other classmates should be given opportunities to ask questions and learn about differences in themselves and each other.


  3. Posted by Beatriz A. Ayala on November 5, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    It’s hard to remember specific events that dramatically changed my learning experience as I was growing up, but I do remember it overall as a positive environment. I never felt embarrassed about my background or culture. My teachers were respectful and understanding, and they provided a rich environment with a variety of activities. When I had a difficult time understanding a concept they would help me. I hope that someday I will be given the opportunity as a teacher to enrich the lives of students through lessons and projects that not only incorporate the academic aspects but also include the culture and backgrounds of students. I understand the importance of surrounding students with a well-balanced environment in which they can learn and reach their individual goals. It is also vital to introduce and be respectful towards each other’s culture and background. Introducing new cultures will help better understand each other as well as address any misconceptions about a culture. I understand that speaking about who we are can be a difficult topic for many, therefore I must create and maintain a safe and encouraging environment were everyone feels comfortable to share and learn.
    Beatriz A.


  4. Posted by David L. on November 6, 2010 at 3:02 am

    I remember that back in Elementary school in 4th grade, we had a teacher who was Asian, and she knew a lot about Chinese tradition. The way I remembered it was that during school hours, there was too much material to go through, so there wasn’t much about Chinese tradition or culture, but it was still celebrated and understood for the people who wanted to stay afterschool, and there was this fund raiser program where the students would help the teacher sell Chinese food as a fund raiser, to fund raise for the class. I also remembered that I participated in that to see if I would learn anything new and or compare and contrast how I would celebrate Chinese New Years, and the way that the teacher celebrated it, so I found out that it was all very similar. I found it to be a positive experience, and that everything that I learned about the Chinese culture at school was positive. In addition, the culture was honored and accurately represented. The experience was great, but if there is one thing that I would change is, I would try my best to integrate it and make it fit into normal class times, so everyone in the class would get to learn about that culture more.


  5. Posted by Melissa Jensen on November 6, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    I remember having “Culture Week” in my elementary school, where we would be in charge of bringing in food from our culture, dressing up in any culturally relevant clothing, and presenting to our class what we knew about our backgrounds. I always enjoyed Culture Week because I would get to help my mom make picadillo or ropa vieja to take to school. In high school, I was assigned a project in my English class where I had to do research into my family’s background and write a paper on what I learned. In college, I took a child development course that had me interview family members of all ages. In all of my experiences with culturally based assignments and lessons, I never felt that the teacher was inaccurate or insincere with the presentation of the lesson. My advice for my teacher-classmates is to make sure that you make the lesson or assignment fun for your students. Giving your students a chance to share a part of who they are can often build the class relationship and result in a more respectful and cooperative classroom. As a future history teacher, I am excited about the many opportunities I will have to address diversity in my classroom.

    In the article “Strategies for Working with the Diverse Learner,” I learned about the ways Talking Text can be used in the classroom. This would actually be very helpful in one of the classrooms I volunteer in, since the class is predominately ELL students that are having difficulties with reading and writing sentences. I am going to talk to the teacher I work with on Wednesday to see if the students would be able to try using Talking Text in the classroom.

    I loved the video from Sargent Shriver Elementary School. The students were very open and honest about the difficulties that come with learning English as well as talk about what helped them better understand words/concepts they did not understand (pictures, working with partners, repetition, etc.). I think that using video interviews with students is a great way to learn about your students and for students to feel included in the classroom. I think that it would be a great thing to share with parents on Parent-Teacher Night and give to the students after the video was completed.


  6. Posted by Cynthia Mercado on November 8, 2010 at 1:32 am

    Throughout my education, my first learning experience about other cultures in an academic setting occurred in the third grade. I remember learning about other cultures through a project my class participated in. Some of the cultures I learned about were Philipino, Chinese, Pakistani, Korean, and Hispanic. Each student was required to present facts about the culture they learned about to the class and brought ethnic food to share. Still to this day I remember how proud I felt when my classmates were excited listening to my presentation on Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. During that time, not only did I learn to appreciate other cultures but I also learned to appreciate my own. I was inspired by how my teacher presented the lesson and how she mentioned she loved the enborajodos, which is a dessert made from bananas. Later, in high school, I was exposed to other cultures on a daily basis mainly because I had friends from many different cultures and religions. I participated in some of their events, such as the Muslim Club and the German Club. Growing up I was fortunate to have a neighbor who was like a second family to us and was able to learn about their Korean culture and their children learn about our Mexican and Ecuadorian culture.

    From my learning experience, I recommend that my teacher-classmates also expose themselves to other cultures, and to be motivated to learn about backgrounds other than their own. One of the most important things a teacher can provide a student with is the motivation to learn about other cultures. In this way, students will be excited to learn about people who are different than them, rather be afraid or apprehensive.

    As a teacher, I will motivate my students to learn about other cultures by having them partner with someone in their class who is of a different culture. They will learn about each other’s cultures, gaining interesting facts from one another and present their findings to the rest of the class. I will then have each student, with their families, visit a museum where the culture is different than their own and their partner’s. Overall, this experience has enriched my life. It was wonderful because my teacher inspired me to continue the cycle.


  7. Posted by Candice P. on November 8, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Through out my life I have had a very wonderfull education filled with variety and great teaching. I have never been in a class where my teacher has talked about my culture within their discussion but I have been in a class where the teacher has talked about other student cultures. In this circumstance the teacher did a great job of not letting the student get embarrassed or uninspired. From what I remember, we learned about the different cultures in a very fun way and it was never embarrassing for any of the students. I learned from this experience that by learning about your students cultures, it can really help you teach the class in a more well rounded way. I think that if teachers learn a little bit about the background of their students then it will help them to teach each student in the best way possible, because every students learns differently. I think that by learning about the different cultures of each of my students when I teach is very important because I need to be respectful and caring to each of my students backgrounds. For example, I want to be a Physical Education teacher, so if a student does not want to wear the P.e. shorts because it shows to much of their legs, I need to be able to recognize if this is because of their culture or what. Right now I am taking a class called ” teaching innovative activities” and I am learning about all the different cultures around the world. My teacher made each student do a powerpoint presentation on a different country and then teach a game from that country. I think this is a great idea to help students learn about the different cultures around the world. This would be a great idea for teachers to do in their classroom. The experiences I had as a student learning about different cultures was very fun and I was able to learn a lot about my classmates and where they came from.
    Candice P.


  8. Posted by Samia Muhareb on November 8, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Coming from Palestine at the age of 7 and enrolling in second grade immediately, I was always different from other students. I knew I was. The teachers and administrators were very nice and welcoming, but the students were not. I remember many of my classmates picking on me about how I dressed to the kind of meals I would bring during lunch. I was the only Muslim (other than my siblings) or Palestinian in my class and at school. The teacher often asked me questions about my culture, but never taught it in class. I was often embarrassed when Ramadan came along and I had to fast. My classmates would look at me like I was bizarre why I was not eating. I did not feel like explaining to them why. When the teacher saw how the students in class were treating me she did take action. She told them to stop. But she did not offer a lesson about my Arab culture. If the teacher incorporated my heritage in a lesson, my experience may have been different. I remember in class, the teacher would decorate the room according to the seasons and holidays. Christmas was always observed, Hanukkah, Easter, Thanksgiving, even Valentine’s Day. I did not observe any of those. I always thought what about Ramadan or Eid. It was my impression that no one cared.

    As a future teacher, I do not want my students to feel that way. I understand that I was one person and perhaps the teacher did not want to either waste time or energy to notice one student; however, I think everyone’s culture should be learned about. It was not until 6th grade where the teacher had all the students bring food from their culture that I began feeling confident and excited to share my world with my classmates. That is one activity that would be interesting to do in my classroom. California is such a diverse state and it will continue to be so. It is becoming extremely necessary for teachers to learn about other cultures and incorporate that in their lesson. Topics such as clothing and food always interest students. Integrating those aspects in the class would be entertaining for the students.
    Samia M


  9. Posted by Janet Chai on November 9, 2010 at 7:33 am

    When I took a World Literature class at Cal Poly, my professor had a cultural gathering at the end of the quarter to celebrate the many backgrounds the authors came from. We read books from Hispanic writers, Asian writers, and African writers. This inspired the conversation of holidays, customs, and traditions. Using food as the central focus was a great segue to making class a little more interesting. This ended up becoming a mini presentation for us to explain what we made for the class and the significance of that dish in our culture. This acted as a sequenced project. I’ve worked with sequenced assignments that build on the previous assignment, and I believe this is what makes interaction so much more meaningful. We had open discussions about books like *Bless Me, Ultima* and *The Woman Warrior*. We then broke into cultural discussions about our own experiences and then shared with the rest of the class. The professor was very inviting and made me feel comfortable about what we wanted to bring. I can imagine that students can sometimes feel self-conscious about this, for they are not sure how classmates will react to food from different cultures. Since we all had the chance to explain the foods in my world lit. class, we all were not very nervous about bringing homemade dishes. This class session was very meaningful and has left a lasting impression with me.


  10. Posted by Carolyn Sanchez-Duran on November 9, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    I recently had the opportunity to observe and volunteer a 3rd grade elementary class during their culture week. Each student was given the assignment to choose their own traditional culture to focus on and to do a background on that culture along with an interview of an ancestor of their choice. In theory, the project sounded great. It was a chance for students to show their pride and learn something about their own culture.

    But in watching the students prepare for this project, I was also surprised to see how much difficulty the children were having. First of all, many of the biracial students faced the daunting task of deciding which culture they could relate to and most importantly, which culture was less frowned upon. In talking to student who was half Mexican, half Chinese – his only concern was not advertising that he was Chinese since being Chinese meant you “ate dogs for dinner” (verbatum from the mouth of a babe) .

    During the project presentations, you could also see that the best projects came from families that were culturally proud, while those cultures that had faded throughout the generations were less passionate. Another issue that I witnessed was that even the teacher failed at truly integrating the dicussion of culture into the classroom and rather trivialized it to his young audience. Given what I witnessed, I felt that the topic of cultural imersion sometimes begins with the ignorance of the blacktop. So much of childrens attitudes are prefaced by what they see at home and as such, they can either bring negativity or just water downed indifference to the topic of culture.

    Another issue that teachers need to be aware of is too much cultural immersion, in my opinion. Sometimes at the core, it is not so much where you come from or what you look like as much as respect for all people period. In that vien, the question becomes whether culture should be so in your face within a classroom. I believe the best way to incorporate culture is to include it in every aspect of your lesson plan, from the history topics you choose to arts and crafts you incorporate.


  11. Posted by Carolyn Sanchez-Duran on November 9, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    I recently had the opportunity to observe and volunteer a 3rd grade elementary class during their culture week. Each student was given the assignment to choose their own traditional culture to focus on and to do a background on that culture along with an interview of an ancestor of their choice. In theory, the project sounded great. It was a chance for students to show their pride and learn something about their own culture.

    But in watching the students prepare for this project, I was also surprised to see how much difficulty the children were having. First of all, many of the biracial students faced the daunting task of deciding which culture they could relate to and most importantly, which culture was less frowned upon. In talking to student who was half Mexican, half Chinese – his only concern was not advertising that he was Chinese since being Chinese meant you “ate dogs for dinner” (verbatum from the mouth of a babe) .

    During the project presentations, you could also see that the best projects came from families that were culturally proud, while those cultures that had faded throughout the generations were less passionate. Another issue that I witnessed was that even the teacher failed at truly integrating the dicussion of culture into the classroom and rather trivialized it to his young audience. Given what I witnessed, I felt that the topic of cultural imersion sometimes begins with the ignorance of the blacktop. So much of childrens attitudes are prefaced by what they see at home and as such, they can either bring negativity or just water downed indifference to the topic of culture.

    Another issue that teachers need to be aware of is too much cultural immersion, in my opinion. Sometimes at the core, it is not so much where you come from or what you look like as much as respect for all people period. In that vien, the question becomes whether culture should be so in your face within a classroom. I believe the best way to incorporate culture is to include it in every aspect of your lesson plan, from the history topics you choose to arts and crafts you incorporate.

    Carolyn SD


  12. Posted by Tracy Miller on November 9, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    I definitely remember learning a lot about different cultures in school. We had days, and just pertaining to social studies, where kids would bring a food item from their culture and dress like people from their culture so that everyone could get a taste of all the diversity. Other than that, I really don’t remember any particular person singled out for their culture; I’m not sure if my elementary school just was not very diverse, or if I just saw everyone as being from the same culture? We did have assignments, though, where we were to interview Grandparents and talk about our heritage and then share with the class and do projects about it.
    I was also in Girl Scouts, so learning and appreciating culture was a big part of that. There was a big day and event where each troupe would choose a place, our troupe did Scotland, which is my heritage, and we had to speak about it in front of a big crowd and dress like them and provide a food from Scotland for people that came around. We also had the flag and bagpipes playing. It was really cool, though, going around to all the different troupes and learning about different cultures.
    It is definitely important as a teacher to recognize the different students and where they are from, and to truly appreciate it. I went backpacking through Europe last summer to 12 different countries and I did it because I have this huge desire to learn about different people and how different people live and what different cultures are like. I would love to have a diverse class so that everyone could learn from everyone else.


  13. Posted by Sarah Jolicoeur on November 9, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    During my elementary and high school days I went to private school; so for the most part students in my classes were middle class. There was not a whole lot of diversity in my classroom in elementary school. In a class of 30 about 90% were white and the other 10% were Hispanic, Filipino, and Chinese. We were taught about different cultures and traditions in my classes and we even had several projects that brought to light my own family’s culture and traditions. We never had to talk to people in my community that we had to learn personal history on but I did have a project that I had to interview an older adult and learn what went on when they were younger. I was never embarrassed or saw that something was not being represented correctly for my culture. Of course, that could be because we did not talk a lot about the border between France & Spain and the people who farmed on that land. For me it did not matter what culture or ethnicity the person was if we got along that is all that mattered and it still is that way today for me.
    Sarah J.


  14. Posted by Erika F. on November 10, 2010 at 12:28 am

    I grew up in Pomona and the public schools I attended were vastly diverse. Predominantly African American and Hispanic. I remember one specific experience where my teacher was inclusive of the diversity in our classroom. It was my 4th grade teacher and this is were I learned to use chopsticks. She had initially asked us to do a project on our cultural background. She wanted us to provide her with anything that we could contribute so that she learned about our cultures. We wrote about our families and ancestors, and we were also to bring in a prop that we thought represented who we were or were we came from. We wrote about the foods we ate, the activities we participated in and what we enjoyed doing. This was not for a particular lesson, but extra work. Because it was such a fun project I believe that everyone contributed at least the least bit of information they could. Towards the end of the first semester, the began to bring in different props she had collected throughout her traveling. A lot of the props she brought in were familiar to most of us. She also began cooking some of our favorite dishes. She brought in white rice and taught us all how to use chopsticks. She brought in tortillas, she made by hand, and had us eat them with beans. I mean she did a whole lot of other stuff, like decorate the classroom with our props and hers and also with our ancestors facts.
    We all seemed to have learned something from that teacher. She was passionate about teaching and interested in learning about her students. I believe that she prepared very well. She truly honored our cultures. She was Chilean and she too learned from us. She did not embarrass any of us. I believe it was because she only presented the class with whatever we had presented to her. Therefore she presented whatever the students were proud to show. She told us about her experiences throughout her traveling and we were all eager to hear her stories. She had visited some of the places we were from and had see so we could connect in that way.

    All the teachers I have had and observed have seemed to always appreciate the diversity and been able to jump on the “band wagon” (for lack of better word). It is actually the tests, standardized test that have not truly mastered the fact that students learn differently. Here is where the teachers struggle to be culturally inclusive. They have to find a way to teach these students accordingly to help them perform well on these tests. With more culture inclusiveness on the part of the tests, we would have more students performing above basic levels. How successful are students going to be when they have to differentiate between the teacher’s culture inclusion on a certain lesson and the cultured opted out of the tests?

    Erika F.


  15. Posted by Danielle D. on November 11, 2010 at 7:48 am

    As a child growing up in Southern California I was not exposed to any cultural lessons or cultural events at my schools but I did grow up in a diverse setting. After reading the article and watching the video on culturally diverse learners, I completely understand why it is so vital as a future teacher to make sure that all of my students are comfortable in the classroom. I will make the effort to truly learn about my students and their family history. The better I understand my student’s the better I can teach them. I feel the more a teacher can relate to a student’s culture the more respect and interaction the student will have towards the teacher and the class. I feel the little gestures make a large difference when it comes to gaining a student’s respect, such as pronouncing a student’s first and last name correctly. Going out of your way to pronounce a name correctly is can be a great way for a student to want to open up in the classroom. I also feel that teachers must take the time to research their student’s culture and help to incorporate that into the classroom. One way I am planning on doing this is by incorporating traditional cultural dances as part of my dance unit for my physical education classes. Not only does this cover the state standards, it also helps to introduce students to different countries cultures and customs. This type of dance unit also helps students assimilate to their native country. However a teacher chooses to incorporate diverse learning into their teaching style is up to them but it should be done with detailed research and respect. As a future teacher it is my responsibility to learn about my future students and do every effort I can to help them be the best they can be.


  16. Posted by Lucila B. on November 12, 2010 at 1:23 am

    All throughout my schooling, I lived in the same neighborhood. My neighborhood and school population were mainly Hispanics and I really do not remember learning about other cultures. I think that since the majority of the student population was Hispanic, learning about other cultures was not instilled in our curriculum. During the time I grew up, I feel that teachers were not as eager as they are now to teach diversity and include different cultural activities. I do not want to give the impression that we all lived in harmony and peace back then, but I do not remember my school being so culturally diverse as schools are today.

    Having to opportunity to observe in a classroom has given me more insight and knowledge about the cultural diversity in schools. I think that it is a great opportunity for teachers to implement lessons and activities that include all cultures represented in their class as well as cultures that are not represented in their class or school. Student awareness of different cultures is important because we live in such a diverse country. When the student is aware and has positively experienced first-hand the cultural exchange, they are more likely to be more accepting towards others. I believe that including different teaching techniques and methods in the classroom is very important because not all students learn the same way. Including those different techniques and methods in the classroom sets the students up for success.


  17. Posted by Lucila B. on November 12, 2010 at 1:25 am

    All throughout my schooling, I lived in the same neighborhood. My neighborhood and school population were mainly Hispanics and I really do not remember learning about other cultures. I think that since the majority of the student population was Hispanic, learning about other cultures was not instilled in our curriculum. During the time I grew up, I feel that teachers were not as eager as they are now to teach diversity and include different cultural activities. I do not want to give the impression that we all lived in harmony and peace back then, but I do not remember my school being so culturally diverse as schools are today.

    Having to opportunity to observe in a classroom has given me more insight and knowledge about the cultural diversity in schools. I think that it is a great opportunity for teachers to implement lessons and activities that include all cultures represented in their class as well as cultures that are not represented in their class or school. Student awareness of different cultures is important because we live in such a diverse country. When the student is aware and has positively experienced first-hand the cultural exchange, they are more likely to be more accepting towards others. I believe that including different teaching techniques and methods in the classroom is very important because not all students learn the same way. Including those different techniques and methods in the classroom sets the students up for success.

    Lucila B.


  18. Posted by Gerard D on November 12, 2010 at 3:48 am

    A healthy mix of lessons about my culture and the culture of others was suspiciously missing from my education. That’s not to say it wasn’t implicit. I had a social studies class in middle school, but nothing memorable was taught. I had a world history class in middle school too, but it was very superficial. My high school US history course taught facts, but not much culture. I think I read part of Huckleberry Finn, which exposed me to the wit of Mark Twain and southern culture. Perhaps my most memorable lesson about culture was reading Catcher in the Rye. That struck me as incredibly funny, and it represented for me a characterization of the counter-counter, the fight of the teenager culture against authority.

    Instead, most of my lessons about culture came from my friends. Two of my friends from youth were Japanese and this had a big impact on me. I later lived in Japan for 2 years and I’m fascinated with Japanese history and culture. I took 4 years of Spanish and although I can’t remember much now, it was important to me when I was in my 20s. I met many Mexican people through this and made several trips to Mexico. I came to love all things Mexican when I was young. I lived in New Mexico for 4 years and had a friend was Mexican during that time. I also got to live within a Taiwanese student for a year during that time. I remember having an Iranian Calculus teacher who I couldn’t understand. This taught me tolerance for people who have an accent. More recently I’ve taken a lot of interest in China and Chinese culture and I’m engaged to get married to a Chinese woman.

    I’m grateful for the cross-cultural experiences I’ve had. It teaches one tolerance. By experiencing culture, rather than just learning it in a classroom, I think I’ve come to understand deeply what it means to see things through cultural lens. Without these experiences, I would be less aware of the things I take for granted in my own culture, and less sensitive to the assumptions others make as well. When we are forced to adopt the values of another, as happens when you make cultural mistakes and learn the hard way how not to, you become sympathetic to the concerns of others. You become interested in why people think the way they do about a host of things you never thought were important before.

    Gerard D


  19. Posted by Rosa Velázquez on November 12, 2010 at 5:46 am

    Growing up in San Diego, California had its many advantageous, one of them being the amount of students in my school that had the same Mexican-American background as I. Because the majority of my elementary school was of Latin-American backgrounds, our native language and our culture were addressed constantly. However, this changed in second grade when I advanced to an English only classroom with third graders. With the exception of 3rd through 5th grade, I continued through the public school education system without ever learning about other cultures or my own, in all of my classes besides my social studies class. Although most of my peers in my advanced classes in high school were predominantly white, in my GATE middle school classes there was a variety of cultures to learn from. I was fortunate enough to learn a little about them through interactions with my peers, but as for the teachers, they never addressed our cultural differences.
    In high school, in addition to my social studies classes, I was able to learn about other cultures and my own, in my language classes. In my French class, I was able to learn about the French culture and about all other countries were French is spoken. In my Spanish class, I was able to learn about many Latin-American countries. One of my assignments for this class was to write about my family tree. I had to interview my parents, and was able to learn a great deal about my family and myself because of it. This assignment really helped me understand my own background and it also made me respect the class and my teacher. Because of this, I really see the importance of incorporating your student’s cultural backgrounds in the classroom, it will make students enjoy the class and it will also make them respect you as a teacher.


  20. Posted by Donald Yi on November 12, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    It has been a long time since I graduated from high school, and I do not remember a lot of what went on in the class. I came to the US, when I was 14 years old from Korea. Not speaking English and being unfamiliar with the American culture was a shock to my system for many years afterwards. Somehow, the life went on for another 40 years, and many things have changed. I have had three successful careers (martial arts instructor, CPA, and systems engineer), two college educated grown children, and a grandson.

    After retiring from my last career, and I contemplated about what I wanted to do with my life, I felt the need to reach the children who are going through similar transition as I was in high school: someone who is learning English as second language, at-risk, and with a lot of unrealized potentials. Fast forward: here I am at Cal Poly, pursuing a teaching credential. My focus is to prepare and inspire students to go to college. As I look back at my life, college education was the great “equalizer”. It created options and provided social and economic upward mobility for me. I chose two vehicles to accomplish my goal: I will teach mathematics and coach golf. Being proficient in mathematics will give students many options for diverse professional careers, and playing golf will allow them to learn life lessons that will aid them for years ahead. Beside teaching these two subjects, I personally enjoy both activities, which I want to share with the students.

    One of the themes of my classes will be the “inclusion” of all the students from diverse backgrounds. When a student is new to this country, they face many hurdles, and I think the most devestating and pervasive one is the sense alianation, from their peers and society. I think a supportive school and classroom environment can help them assimilate, and give them space to form their identity. I want to let them know that things change and life happens with time, and the focus and preparation will allow them to influence the changes that will take place in their lives. I am writing mainly about students from other countries, but I think there are many students in America who also are alianated due to their different socio-economic background, and I will also emphasize inclusion and growth for these students as well.

    Donald Y.


  21. Posted by April Suh on November 13, 2010 at 2:18 am

    Although I was born in Southern California, I moved to South Korea when I was still a toddler, and spent most of my early childhood there. Even when I moved back to the United States, Korean was the only language and culture that I had been familiar with. Needless to say, first grade was not easy. In addition, there was no ESL or ELD program available in the school at the time. Luckily for me, my teacher and principal were extremely tender and understanding of my language barrier. They spent time with me at every recess, pointing things out and helping me to learn how to pronounce certain words. The rate at which I learned English was extremely fast, partly due to the fact that there were no other KOrean children with which I could speak, and was therefore forced to speak English. By the time I was in third grade, I was speaking fluently, and able to give public speeches on behalf of the school. I attribute most of this success to my teacher and principal who took the personal time to ensure my scholastic and social success by spending time with me and giving me the encouragement that I needed to feel confident in school. Oddly, I first encountered my first run-in with cultural discrimination when the first wave of Asian children moved into our school. My friends did not want to play with them or even play near their homes, for they believed that asians were “dirty”. At that young age, they did not realize that I was also of asian descent, for I spoke English and understood the AMerican culture. It was a real cutlure shock as well as a saddening reality check to see such bigotry and discrimination first-hand.


  22. Posted by Betty Chiang on November 13, 2010 at 2:37 am

    Growing up in Vancouver, Canada, I can see the similarities of the two large North American countries have. There are very few Hispanics, and African Americans where I grew up. Thinking back, (and looking at my year book!) My elementary and high school mostly consists of Caucasians and Asians (Indian, Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, Vietnamese, etc) I do not remember learning specifically about a culture that we have real ‘interactions’ with; meaning, we didn’t learn much about the Asian cultures I have just listed. I do remember clearly learning about South American, specifically Peru, and I remember doing a project on France. And of course, we learned about Canadian history, which ties quite closely to American and British history.
    I have to say though, being an English Learner in Canada was very ‘easy’ for me at the time. Canadians are truly the nicest people one will ever meet. I do not have much experience of primary or even high school schooling here in the United States, but I do remember there were no real cliques or anyone really getting on anyone’s case because of race. Of course, excluding the different gangs that we had that were of different race, I think the conflict there is a bit more than the ‘race’ factor, but what would I know about that.
    Overall, I did not feel like any teachers specifically ‘taught’ a certain culture that was a majority among the students, but all of them embraced each culture and each student lovingly, even ones (myself when I was younger) that did not know a word of English. I think because of that, we all learned each other cultures and beliefs slowly, by getting to know our classmates better and learn from there.

    Betty Chiang


  23. Posted by Theresa M on November 13, 2010 at 5:53 am

    It’s hard to remember a lot of specific examples. What I do remember, are a few assignments in middle school, where we had to ask about our family history. It was for English classes as well as Science classes. It helped with our writing skills as well as learning a little about other classmates. It was helpful to learn more about my family’s past and culture. It also sparked more of my own personal interest in my family’s past outside of school assignments. It was a good experience, especially as I learned more about other families and cultures.


  24. Posted by Heather Stewart on November 13, 2010 at 6:15 am

    I can’t remember a time when culture was brought up in any subject other than social studies at any point in my education. I went to private Christian schools, and there wasn’t a lot of diversity. There was some ethnic diversity, but I don’t know that there was really much of what you would call cultural diversity. I never felt like any of my classmates were so different from me. However, there was an international school associated with my high school. It was sort of a school within a school. For most of the day, the international students took classes separate from the rest of us, but we did have math together. There were a number of international students, all of whom were from Asia, in my A.P. calculus class. It was always fun when we would talk about their countries of origin and how things were done there, but that was the extent to which culture was brought into my classes.
    Heather S.


  25. Posted by Dianne Nunez on November 13, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Throughout my education, I remember a few cultural diversity experiences. In elementary school, I recall some students bringing Mexican food and getting dressed up on Cinco de Mayo. On that day, we learned a little bit about the Mexican culture and had the opportunity to see some of the students perform a Mexican dance. Students would also learn about some of the other holidays, such as Halloween and Christmas. The teacher would have a brief discussion with students about how different cultures celebrated those days, such as some Mexican students might celebrate the Day of the Dead. In High School, the principal had arranged a day for students to enjoy food from various places around the world. It was interesting to taste the traditional foods from Hawaii, Korea, Peru, and other places. My K-12 education has provided me with some wonderful cultural diversity experiences.

    At Cal Poly, my History professors have done a great job at including cultural diversity into their lessons. I remember an interview, similar to the one that I observed in the Sargent Shriver Elementary School video. However, our history assignment was longer and more complex. For my History class, we were learning about Immigration to the United States. My professor wanted us to interview one of our family members and write a 12 page paper about their experience. He provided us with some guiding questions and then we had to find a family member to interview. We had to record our conversation on a tape recorder, gather some pictures of our family, write the paper, and then present what we had gathered to the rest of the class. My teacher did a great job at explaining what he wanted us to do with this assignment. Through this project, I learned a great deal about my cultural background as well as the different cultures of my classmates and friends. Even though this assignment took me a long time to complete, I really enjoyed learning about the different cultures.

    To make this History assignment easier for diverse learners, I would incorporate some of the teaching strategies presented in the Using Technology to Support Diverse Learners article. For example, students could use PowerPoint to share the information they have gathered about their family with the class. Students could provide some visuals in their PowerPoint presentations or bring some photographs of their family and their culture to share with the class. For the presentation, if students are having trouble pronouncing some words, they could use the Audio (talking text) program in order to practice those words. These are some suggestions that I would include to help diverse learners in this History assignment.

    Dianne N.


  26. Posted by Ryan P. on November 14, 2010 at 8:00 am

    As a student in a primarily white community, I did have an assignment whose goal was to construct a family tree, which required interviewing family members. But to be honest, I can’t remember any of the details regarding my own ancestry because it never seemed important. As a Caucasian, I tend to feel that I have no well-defined culture, and even if I did I would probably feel uncomfortable proudly expressing it. This isn’t such a great thing. In fact, especially since going to college, I have experienced feelings of longing over the culture of others and the sense of purpose and belonging I perceive it to provide. I do not remember having much exposure to diverse cultures in school outside of history class, language classes, and artificial school research projects in the earlier grades.
    I largely think the attempt to incorporate culture into lessons can be futile if not harmful, since in a short amount of time all one can really do it perpetuate the various tropes attached to said culture. Can justice really be done to diverse cultures in the span of a class lesson? And which cultures should be selected? For example, in elementary school the three holidays we learned about in the winter were Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Clearly, the reason to highlight these particular three is highly politicized.
    My personal opinion is that culture can only be experienced, not taught. If you think about it, when a minority student enters an American public school, they are experiencing a completely new culture for the first time. To help these students learn the ropes, scaffolding must used, and in particular the method of contextualization. Analogously, when showing majority students an exotic culture, the way to be successful would be to again use scaffolding. Typically scaffolding is thought of as a way to teach lessons to minorities in a culturally relevant way, but really it can be used on any group to introduce foreign ideas. I feel that if these techniques were used, I would have had better exposure to diverse cultures at that age. But was I capable of appreciating culture at that age? That is a question for another day.


  27. Posted by lisa meneses on November 15, 2010 at 12:05 am

    I don’t remember ever having culture incorporated in the classroom when I was in school. The elementary, middle, and high schools I attended were very culturally diverse. I attended grade school in the early 70’s through the 80’s so maybe there wasn’t much thought put into preparing the classroom for diverse learners. Also being born here English was my first and only language, so if there were classrooms in which students whose primary language was Spanish I wasn’t aware of them. For most of my elementary school classes I was put into a GATE classes, I’m not really sure if they still have these or what they are called now.

    Being at Cal Poly and taking several LS classes in which cultural diversity of learners is a big theme threaded through several of them I am aware of how important this is. Doing student observation in different school districts I know that bringing culture into the classroom is a must. After watching this video and discussing this in the classroom a big help for students is providing different learning strategies such as group learning and providing lessons that are not just auditory but visual and kinesthetic as well.

    Lisa M.


  28. Posted by Charles Kohorst on November 15, 2010 at 1:08 am

    Classroom diversity is an essential element of teaching in California. When I was in school, the classroom was fairly diverse and the teachers did an adequate job of recognizing the diversity. we would have celebrations of different cultural holidays such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Cinco De Mayo. When I was in High School, diversity recognition was a bit more subtle, but it was reflected in the ethnic and cultural diversity of the school. Of course, as an undergrad at Cal Poly I was exposed to another level of cultural diversity previously unknown to me. Being a history major, I was required to take classes outside the bounds of my historical awareness, such as Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern and Russian history. I have also worked with a diverse staff at the University Police Department, which has furthered my appreciation for the continuing challenge of integration and the benefit of diversity. This, coupled with my classroom experiences, has left me adequately prepared to address and manage the diverse classrooms of the twenty-first century.

    Charlie K.


  29. I was born and raised in Southern California, more specific, the Inland Empire. For anyone that knows that area, it is heavily dominated by Latinos. I don’t really recall too many lessons which were about cultural diversity. I only remember the ones which were related to social studies. I do recall having a “cinco de mayo” festival in our classroom. Everyone brought one dish from home and I just remember eating a lot of Mexican food that day (delicious!).
    The only cultural diversity program I remember my school having was in regard to students of Native American descent. The students had to fill out paperwork proving their heritage, and then they were taken out of class for one hour every couple of weeks to make Native American crafts. I always remember the small group of students leaving and coming back, but as far as my class as a whole, we weren’t too informed in the topic of cultural diversity.
    There was one time where I was paired as a reading buddy with a girl who had just transferred to our school. She had previously lived in the Middle East and she only spoke Arabic. I never remember her being introduced to our class or even being told about the country she was from. I’m sure that the transition to the American school system was very difficult for her. I can’t say that I was exposed to cultures outside of my own when I was in elementary school.


  30. Posted by Rebecca Laredo on November 15, 2010 at 5:00 am

    I remember being introduced to a few cultures as part of my schooling. I remember in elementary school, we had a culture week in fifth grade where students were required to share about their culture. Students brought pictures of events celebrated in their culture, costumes, food, etc. However, many kids I went to school with were Hispanic, so I only remember learning about the Mexican culture and not being exposed to other cultures. In my twelfth grade English class, we were required to make a senior memory book throughout the entire school year, and I remember that one specific chapter (out of 12) focused on our culture and where our family came from. I really enjoyed being able to incorporate my heritage in a project and thought it was interesting talking to my relatives for sources. I remember that my grandma was really excited to share how her parents came to Hawaii from Japan. I learned many things about my culture that I hadn’t known before. Other than these two assignments, I don’t remember ever learning about others’ culture. I felt that my teachers were always respectful of others’ cultures, including mine. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more to learn about more cultures, because I think that it brings awareness all cultures, and it lowers misconceptions about people who have came from a different place than you. When I’m an educator, I will incorporate many assignments and projects where students will be able to learn about where they came from as well as share with the rest of the class.


  31. Posted by Rebecca Laredo on November 15, 2010 at 5:16 am

    Rebecca L.


  32. Posted by Autumn Purdue on November 15, 2010 at 5:31 am

    I grew up in the central valley and the junior high school and middle school I attended was culturally diverse. I do not remember specifically being taught about different cultures in the classroom, but I remember learning a lot about different cultures through my own interaction with other students in high school clubs or sports. This interaction is what I think taught me most about different cultures while I was in school. Thinking back, it is hard to even remember any certain activity in a class that was designed to teach us about other cultures. However, I do not think that because I cannot remember it does not mean it was not there. Perhaps it was more subtle and if I had some magic time machine I could go back and knowing what I know now, I would be able to recognize strategies that my teachers used to educate us about different cultures. I remember there not being any real separation between the different cultures at my high school. Every one was connected in the some way or another and no real segregation existed based off of culture.
    My two best friends in middle school and high school were Japanese and Hispanic. Both of my friends’ parents had at some point came to America from their native country. I learned a lot just going to visit my friends at their houses. I learned about different traditions, styles, and values.

    Autumn P.


  33. Posted by Jennifer G. on November 15, 2010 at 6:53 am

    Growing up I don’t remember be exposed in school to other cultural customs outside of social studies. I went to a private Catholic school up until the 8th grade and it was more secluded in the sense we didn’t focus too much on other people’s customs and cultures. The majority of the students were white with maybe only 3 African American students that I can remember and a few Hispanic students but even they didn’t really associate with Hispanic customs too much. I learned a lot about other people’s cultures and customs through the Girl Scouts though, so I was exposed in that sense besides my own family. It wasn’t until here at Cal Poly through a class that I learned about my own mixed culture and was required to speak to the elders in my family and sort of pick their brains about my own history.
    The students in the video remind me of several students I have worked with who are hard workers with big dreams in life. It’s wonderful to see excited students are about a bright future and what they want to be when they grow up. I only hope that those who are prejudice against immigrants don’t crush their dreams because each child is like a bright shining star just waiting for their chance and oppertunity to go out in the world and show what they can do and how they can make a difference in the world.


  34. Posted by Jesabel Acosta on November 15, 2010 at 7:40 am

    I was born in Mexico came to California when I was one year old. I remember starting preschool without knowing any English at all. I felt different not knowing the language but since it was a lot of group activity It was not as hard to follow for me. I don’t remember having any activity in elementary or junior High School that addressed my culture or honored me in any way. In high school, my junior year, my history teacher made us do a pizza collage where we shared who we where. This made it very memorable to me because this teacher showed me he cared. Its very nice to be aware of where your classmates are from and this is a way to get to know them as well. I just wish my elementary and junior high School would of offered similar outlets to address culture and honor who I was. I always wanted to succeed since I was a young girl. I always told my self that I was not going to be a stereotype. I feel that a teacher can be very influential when they represent each children’s background. I feel getting to know your students culture makes them know that you care.


  35. Posted by Catherine Yee on November 15, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Cultural expectation was a repeat topic in my 11th grade English class; social, family, and cultural expectations were often themes for class discussion on course books. Some of these books, such as Joy Luck Club and Daughter of Fortune, focus on cultural disparity and the implications of such, while others are traditional curriculum such as, The Crucible and Grapes of Wrath, which play heavily on social constructs and relationships. As we worked our way through each book our teacher would spend considerable time for class discussion where any student could bring up a topic and their perceptions, the class would then comment on the relevance of these varying ideas and weigh in on their significance on the text. Often times discussion and teacher guidance would highlight cultural nuances that would help explain details about the author and his work. Our teacher also encouraged us to relate themes from the books to our personal experiences. Our class was diverse with students of various ethnic backgrounds and most importantly, various degrees of integration in American society. The perceptions of social expectations each person took for granted was often a shock to other members of the class and would often elicit a comparison to the experiences by another. Because of the open and positive environment people were rarely offended and improper remarks were quickly corrected. By the end of the year our class had heavily debated the diverse outlooks on family, education, and relationships among different cultures, and subgroups.

    -Catherine Yee
    GED 500


  36. After migrating with my family to USA at the age of 16, my first learning experience in cultures was in my wonderful years in high school. I started in the ELL program and I learned different cultures such as Indonesia, Korean, Brazilian, cultures from South America and some from Europe. I interact with a diversity of students every day in my ELL classes. I learn their traditions, their beliefs, and the richness of their food. We did PowerPoint presentations about our culture and we brought our traditional dish from our cultures. In my opinion to be in ELL classes is an unforgivable awesome experience that I will never going to forget. As a teacher, I will motivate my students to interact with other cultures and to join multi-cultural clubs. I will encourage my students to visit the ELL classes and to tutor in their homework. My students will feel the affectionate environment that ELL classes have.

    Carolina Andrade
    GED 500


  37. Posted by Rosemary on November 15, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    During elementary, middle, and high school I can not recall any instances where I had an opportunity to incorporate my culture or personal background to the topic of discussion or lesson plan. It wasn’t until I went to college where I finally had an opportunity to speak about where I came from and my heritage. I remember the experience being so rewarding and being so interested to hear other students stories of where they came from as well. After that assignment I reflected upon my experiences in public school and thinking what a shame it was to not have been given an opportunity to share a little of my culture with my peers. I am a person who is 1/2 Mexican, 1/4 English, and 1/4 Irish and have cultural experiences in my family that are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Because of my diverse ethnicity, I believe I would have been able to enrich my peers with my cultural experiences had I been able to be given the opportunity. Instead, I will give my future students an opportunity to share and contribute a little of their culture to their peers so that they may write about it someday as we are doing right now.

    Rosemary Boone
    GED 500


  38. Posted by Amber M. on November 15, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    In elementary school, I only remember learning about different cultures in my social studies classes. My other classes didn’t really seem to be too involved in discussing different cultures. It wasn’t until high school in my sophomore Spanish class where the teacher had all of us bring in a main dish from our own culture and we all talked about our different backgrounds. I can’t really say too many good things about my elementary school because it seemed that the teachers didn’t really care too much about the students. When I say “care,” I mean that if I ever needed extra help or if other students did, the teachers would always tell us that they didn’t have the time, ask a friend, or ask your parents at home. I remember in first grade, I had a really strict teacher. I remember for one of our assignments we had to write a short story on a trip we had and I asked the teacher for help in spelling “mother” and I got in trouble for not knowing the word even though it wasn’t one of our spelling words we had learned yet. After that day, I was always afraid for asking any teacher for help. I always tried to figure it out on my own or ask my friends for help. Although English was the only language spoken at home, I never really had trouble in learning and my parents were excellent at helping me with my homework, but there were still times when I needed help from the teacher. I’m also the type of learner that needs a lot of visual references in order to understand certain topics. When it comes to reading, I learned that I remember the text best when I’m reading it from the computer rather than a plain textbook. Especially as a child, I would lose focus very quickly and constantly get in trouble for not staying on task, but my teachers would not find ways to help me stay on task, instead they would just have me read from a book.

    As a future elementary teacher, I realize that our population is growing with more diverse learners. I want my plans to include different methods of teaching to accomodate the needs of the students. For instance, I would do the best I can to include text, visual aids, and audio into my lesson plans as well as activities that the students can do for the “hands-on” learners. At the beginning of the year, I will take the time to get to know my students better so that I know exactly what needs to be done for them to learn better. I also want to take the extra time to help those that are struggling and make phone calls home when needed because I strongly feel that parents are also a major role in the success of their child’s education. Through the use of technology and other strategies such as scaffolding, I will make students’ education one of the best experiences they have had so that in the future they can say that there was a teacher that was interested in their culture as well as getting to know them as individuals and one that “cared” enough to help them succeed.

    Amber Maldonado
    GED 500/Sec 1


  39. Posted by Van Le on November 15, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    I was born and grew up in Vietnam, so as a matter of fact, I went to school from K to 12 in Vietnam. The education system in Vietnam was very different from here in the US. I don’t remember learning about other countries in school. When I moved to live and go to school here, I learn so many different things such as the differences between the two cultures. From my experiences, I know better than to judge one culture based on a different one. For example, in Vietnam, parents can punish their misbehaved children by flogging them on their buttock. Teachers in grade schools can also punish the students who misbehave or did not do homework by flogging them on their hands. I had received both forms of punishment throughout my childhood. However I did not hate my parents or my teacher back then because it was a right thing for parents and teacher to punish the misbehaved children. They did that not because they hated those children but because they wanted them to be better in the future, and flogging was an acceptable form of punishment in Vietnamese culture. When I was in fourth grade, my teacher flogged me in the hands in front of the whole class because I was spacing out while he was giving a lecture. There was a girl in my ninth grade dyed her hair red, and dying hair and wearing make-up were forbidden in grade school. The vice principal had warned her to dye back to the original color a couple time. The third time he saw that she still had red hair; he called her to his office and literally cut off her hair. After that, no one in my school was dared to dye their hair ever again. Those were some of my experiences in grade schools in Vietnam. However, when I came to live in the U.S., I learned that those punishments were unacceptable and forbidden here. At first I thought that it was so unfair that the kids in Vietnam got physical punishments when they misbehave and the kids in the U.S didn’t. Students in the US get to learn about different countries and cultures, but the students in Vietnam get to learn little to nothing about that. I prefer the education system here much more than in Vietnam, and I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to go to school here . That’s why I decided to become a teacher so I can deliver what I learn in school to the kids and help them develop a better future.


  40. Perhaps it was too long ago, but I don’t really remember too well if cultural inclusion was in our curriculum. I was born in Mexico, but given that I had an older sibling and lots of cousins and friends to practice English at home I placed out of the ESL classes after the first grade. I went to school where the majority of students were Hispanic, so perhaps I didn’t notice it because I just felt it was normal to represent our culture.

    I do have a complaint. It seems that sometimes teachers do not have a full knowledge of different cultures. They cannot rely on students for a correct story, either. It is tough to not let stereotypes get the best of them. I remember in the sixth grade my teacher was from the Northern Michigan and new to California. All the upper grade teachers were assigned to perform a cultural dance for the upcoming Cinco de Mayo assembly. I remember she made our class dance a Portuguese song.


  41. Posted by Lyle E on November 15, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    I involvement in culture was very limited as a child as I never assumed to look at people in a different way. I never knew that people had traveled from afar to enjoy the life of the american dream. I had always assumed that people who spoke spanish were from Mexico and people with dark skin African American. Not until I had gotten older did I learn that people came from all over the world, not just the given populations. Over the years I have been involved in a family that is from Sri Lanka as my step mother’s family originated from there , so I have become accustomed to their lifestyle and their many different customs. It has helped in opening my eyes to the large world that is out there versus the bubble that many sometimes find themselves stuck in. This culture influence has helped me in being able to view the world from a new understanding as I am able to look at the problems of the world with a whole new light rather than from a narrow eye from a land that has different problems than happen around the world.


  42. Posted by Lyle E on November 15, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    forgot name
    Lyle E
    GED 400


  43. Posted by Jenel O on November 15, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    I have one distinct memory of discussing my culture and the cultures of other students in my class and I believe it was from 5th grade. My teacher had a whole week dedicated to the cultures in out classroom and leading up to it we had to talk with our family to find out where we came from and how we got to where we are now. I remember this being so important to be because I had never really talked to my grandparents about them coming to California from Puerto Rico when they were in their early 20’s. They knew noone here and were still brave enought to make the journey to better their family. Each student was about to present the information they found out from their families and everyone was enouraged to bring in a traditional food that their family ate. I remember having my grandma make rice and chicken that her mother taught her had to make.
    I hope to do something like this with my class one day. It is so important for students to know where they came from and to also understand where others in their classroom come from. Doing that project is something I will always remember and I want my students to remember it as well.

    Jenel O


  44. Posted by Geoffrey W. on November 15, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    I remember in second grade when it came to be holiday time that the teacher wanted to have a holiday celebration that included all cultures. My mom came in to the class one day and cooked latkes and blintzes, two traditional foods that are eaten on Chanukah. Even though the majority of the class celebrated Christmas, the teacher wanted to make sure that everyone felt included. Of course, the whole class loved the food that my mom made. In addition to cooking, we also learned about the different holidays celebrated in different cultures around the world, not just Christmas.


  45. Posted by Mayra magallanes on November 15, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Looking back at my elementary school years the only time I ever remember “learning” about other cultures was in cinco de Mayo. Ironically that “other” culture was my own. About 95% of the students were Mexican American, and the other 5% were from Central America. Every year a class did a dance. The school seeked for parent volunteers to decorate and to be in charged game booths. Most of the time we also had parents participate in these dances. They were usually coordinating and teaching them. However, we never learned the who, where, or why of the dance. I remember being excited choosing my traditional dress and learning dances, but I was never given the opportunity to be excited about the history of it. Most of the children were just excited to play the games. The last year I was there they had changed the format of the program. Instead of celebrating cinco de Mayo, we had International day. Not much had changed; they still had dances and games.

    To my recollection I was never asked to speak to my family about personal history. I was never given the opportunity to share my cultural knowledge to my classmates and teachers. I do not even recall any of my social studies assignments. Middle school was similar except for the festival. And in High school the only time I really had to investigate and look into my culture was to write my college application letter. I remember struggling and not knowing how to write my life, culture, and learning into an essay. I wanted to say so much. Other than that I remember we had one paragraph dedicated to Chicanos in my history class. My teacher mentioned it was a shame we only had one, but he was worried about teaching us everything he could before the AP test.

    There was one experience that was great. It was my last year of High school, the year was 2006. Immigration laws and building a 700-mile-long along the Mexican border were in talks. To protest enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws many students walked out. I was one of those students. I walked out for my friends who were brought here as children and for those parents who did not have papers. It was that week our teacher talked to us about the 1968 walkout, he let us know he was proud of us. It was not part of his lesson but he knew it was important to us. And it was this teacher who also attempted to help diverse learners in class. I remember one assignment in particular. We had to choose a song and change the lyrics to relate it to a time in history. He also showed us videos and audio. He used it to help us, unlike another teacher who simply put a dull audio recording of a book everyday for 30 min.


  46. Posted by David Guerra on November 16, 2010 at 8:15 am

    It was not difficult to figure out in my early years of education that I would go home to different customs and traditions than my classmates. Even if I shared the hispanic heritage of a few classmates differences in the dialect of our parents and differences in the foods were immense or so it seemed to an impressionable young boy. However, these differences were not a handicap and possibly because of parental support these differences became my personal helper in making me unique and special amongst a sea of other children that shared very similar cultures. Sharing things from my culture was most often tied to social studies. However, Thanksgiving and Christmas potlucks always presented an opportunity to show off the things that I ate at home. Not once do I remember a teacher being unaccepting of the different foods my mom would bring in. Rather I always remember the teacher being open to the new culinary experience. Often times the teachers would have me present the food and the specific region it came from and possibly if I had the information the history of the food. At the very least an overview of when the food was eaten and what were major recognizable ingredients. To my peers I would suggest that an opportunity be taken to make the diverse cultures of the classroom a part of the learning and sharing experience. These experiences help develop the identity of the child that shares and it helps develop tolerance in the children of the audience. I would encourage a visible appreciation for what is being shared and above all to teach a lesson in cultural respect to the class. In a classroom of young children where different is many times scary it is important to explain that what is so different is possibly exactly the same but in a different version.


  47. Posted by Cynthia Vera on November 16, 2010 at 8:42 am

    When I was an undergrad, my multicultural literature class required us to attend a lecture by Carlos Fuentes, an internationally celebrated author/intellectual from Mexico. What an amazing requirement. Here in the United States, very little is known about the positive and amazing contributions from Mexico. All we seem to hear about are an uneducated populace, druglords, and crime.

    Much about what Mr. Fuentes writes about is the influence of Mexico on the U.S. and vice versa, only from a very unique perspective–he is bicultural: half gringo, half Mexican. Mr. Fuentes is a representation of the greatness that Mexico has to offer. His keen intellect and eloquence give him standing alongside such literary greats as Octavio Paz, Pablo Neruda, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

    Most of the students in my literature class were completely blown away by Mr. Fuentes. Mr. Fuentes educated us all on the complex, intellectual contributions of Mexican culture, which was a breath of fresh air and a nice change from hearing only negative things written about Mexico.

    Cynthia Vera


  48. Posted by Erikefe Adu on November 16, 2010 at 10:00 am

    I can’t remember too clearly if my culture was included in the classroom. On the other hand, I feel that my culture is not based on my parent’s culture which is (Philipino and Nigerian), but of the culture I grew up in which is (North) American. So dealing with the question of: “was my culture included in the classroom?” I think it was, because my teachers seemed very North American to me. I do feel it is important relate ideas taught in class to students, such that they get a good grasp of it and are engaged by it. As a teacher, I would approach cultural inclusion by trying to get involved in the community that I’m working in, so that I can get a better understanding of the culture. I heard that when working in a community different from your own it’s best to do less assuming and more doing.

    -Erikefe A.


  49. Posted by Todd Olson on November 16, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Perhaps it was the time that I went through school, or perhaps my memories are fading, but I don’t recall any particular focus on our personal cultures during my childhood. Instead, I have experienced cultural sensitivity education through my sons. This began in pre-school when my sons would perform in an annual winter holiday assembly that highlighted the cultural background of the students. Each child would pick a culture to represent and then dress up accordingly. Although the majority would arrive in outfits from their own biological ancestory, many would cross-over to alternate cultures not normally associated with their ethnicity. For example, some Asian students arrived in cowboy clothes, while one African-American girl showed up in a cute Japanese dress.

    During the program, the students sang songs from European, African and Asian sources, and whenever possible, in the original language. At this young age the students couldn’t delve deeply into the cultures that their dress and songs represented, but the celebration and respect that they showed was memorable and hopefully would retain with them in later years.

    This show had perhaps an even stronger impact on us parents. The families in this school were so diverse that there truly was no majority of any particular race or background, so attempting to represent as many cultures as possible really helped make everyone feel welcome and included. I also appreciated the flexibility in representing other cultures. In the joyful innocence of the children, there was no reluctance in dressing in the manner of cultures other than their biological background, which made it easier for the adults to be more open as well.

    As a teacher, I plan to include as many references to other cultures and historical backgrounds as possible. For instance, in Math there have been many contributions by Africans in Egypt, the Aztecs, Mayans, Ancient Chinese, Europeans, and Asian Indians. Pointing out these specific examples during the normal course of the curriculum will help both the students directly descended from these civilizations, as well as the students who may come from other backgrounds, by showing the importance of pulling from the cultural strengths of all people.

    Todd O.


  50. Posted by Erika Gonzales on November 16, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Thinking back, there is one specific school incident that pops into my head when I think about cultural inclusion, and I am taken back to Kindergarten in Mrs. Walker’s classroom. We had read Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, and were asked to make a connection to special foods our families made and think of different ways in which our family was unique. Mrs. Walker assigned a simple lesson in which I had to come home and ask my parents/grandparents what made our family unique from others. I cannot recall the exact details of the assignment (it was so long ago), but I remember bringing in my grandmother and mother into my classroom. My grandmother had made some enchiladas for my classroom to eat and read a book in Spanish for the class – because my grandmother did not speak English, my mother had to translate it for her. I remember sitting on the floor in a circle with the rest of the class, as my grandmother sat in Mrs. Walker’s rocking chair and lead the class; I felt such honor towards my heritage and culture.

    Aside of this assignment, and in social studies lessons, I honestly cannot recall being introduced to diverse cultures as part of my schooling. I never stopped to realize just how important cultural inclusion can be to students in a classroom. After viewing the video on culturally diverse learners, I realized how beneficial learning about students can be. Students are more likely to participate and succeed in the classroom when they feel like their teacher cares about them. I found it interesting to hear the students speak about what they wanted their teacher to know about them; students mentioned wanting their teacher to know they are responsible, trustworthy, and patient. One student also mentioned she wanted her teacher to know that sometimes she may need a little extra assistance and attention. I believe such characteristics of students are important to know because this allows the teacher to develop new and creative ways for teaching a certain lesson and maximize the learning opportunity for all her students.

    In the video, the students also mentioned their career goals. I think this information is important for the teacher to be aware of in order to make additional resources available for students. Most students, especially ELL students, are not exposed to additional resources outside of the classroom and may have little support in the home, so if the teacher can be motivational it can have a high impact on them. As a future teacher, my job is to provide my students with the tools and resources needed to go out into the real world, and by knowing the goals and dreams my students have, I can better prepare them for their future.

    Overall, this assignment has had me reevaluate my role as a teacher. I have learned how important is to have my students interact with one another. The video showed students, of different academic levels, working together and helping each other progress academically and socially. In my classroom I will incorporate cultural inclusion and make an effort to educate my students about the cultural diversity we have in our society. Especially living in Southern California, I have been reminded of the diversity I live in, and have found a new importance on how beneficial it is for my students to be exposed to the extraordinary cultures that surround us. As a teacher, I will learn about my student’s strengths and weaknesses to better prepare them for success in my classroom, along with success outside of my classroom.


  51. Posted by Shazia. V. on November 16, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    I grew up in Dubai and it’s as diverse as you can get. Most of the population is formed by the expatriate community. Attending a Catholic school had its advantages too. I was in the company of students from India, Pakistan, Jordan, Korea, Portugal, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman and the local Arabs of Dubai. We understood and accepted each others diversity. I celebrated Christmas, Diwali, and Eid with my friends. It was wonderful knowing that there was a present for me under the tree at my friends place or that I was going to get to eat sweets (I LOVE desserts) and light a candle for Diwali. The ultimate lesson I received in cultural diversity was when I was 10 years old. My mom’s friend, Aunty Louise (an amazing lady from the U.K) went to India to adopt a baby girl. In those days, adopting children from a country other than your own was unheard of. I was really impressed with her. She went back a couple more times with Uncle Martin to adopt Priya and Aarti.
    My children, on the other hand, face a totally different exposure to culture. I feel it is not addressed effectively in their school. My son had a cultural day when he was in third grade where children brought food relating to their culture. Apart from eating the delicious food that other students brought in, I don’t think they learned very much. My daughter would get embarrassed when other children would come up to her after Eid because she had henna on her hands. They would call it scribbling. The teacher could have used this “difference” in culture as a teachable moment but all he said was that it is not scribbling, but henna. No other explanation was given. What is sad is that festivals are not celebrated in schools anymore. I would love it if my children were exposed to other religions. It promotes religious tolerance and acceptance.
    Effective teachers of culturally diverse students acknowledge both individual and cultural differences enthusiastically and identify these differences in a positive manner. These teachers develop an understanding of students’ lives which enables them to increase the relevance of lessons and make examples more meaningful. Teachers, who acknowledge the diverse learners in their class, provide increased opportunities for high and low achievers to boost their self-esteem, develop positive self-attributes, and enhance their strengths and talents.
    Shazia. V.


  52. Posted by kevin b on November 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Growing up, I unfortunately was never presented with a cultural week. However, Ive taken part in cultural projects that were very beneficial to me. They helped me not only learn about myself, but become closer to the ones in my family. It also provided me with a stronger sense of pride and gave me more direction when growing up. My heritage was my influence and who knows if I would have ever obtained these qualities without these projects I participated in while growing up. If I had the ability to present a cultural project or cultural week to students of my own, I definitely would do both. Some kids don’t have much growing up, so learning about themselves and their background provides them with a foundation in building the values and customs they can follow as they get older. In my opinion, it can be a way to provide more structure to the students. It also can be a very fun event that the students can remember for the rest of there lives. Not to mention, how beneficial would it be for students to learn about the cultures and customs of the other students? Depending on the class, this type of assignment/activity can be a great way to break the ice at the beginning of the quarter.


  53. Posted by Alana Hahn on November 23, 2010 at 12:30 am

    I remember being introduced to other cultures as a young child, but I feel like that changed as I progressed in school. When I was in kindergarten I was introduced to the Spanish language and some of the Spanish culture as well separate from Social Studies. This continued through 2nd grade but as far as I can remember it stopped almost immediately after that. I feel that I am lucky to have been exposed to what I was exposed to but I think the teaching of culture could have continued through my schooling and I could have benefited from it. I think going to the public schools that I attended helped with learning culture outside the classroom from my fellow students, not from the teachers. Many students are not exposed to culture in the classroom. I remember making a family tree in one of my spanish classes and we had to talk about what some of our traditions were which relates to our own culture as well.

    Alana H.

    GED 500


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