Deep Culture in the Elementary Classroom: Week 8 6/12/18

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So often when we think of learning about another culture, we think about the things that we see on the surface. We think of food, clothing, transportation, or music. While these things are definitely included, culture is more than just these types of things. Culture is how one reacts to a situation. Culture is how one worships. Culture is how one thinks and why they have the beliefs that drive that thinking. Culture goes much deeper and it encompasses who a person or group of people truly are. It is something that drives them.

An example would be the amount of emotional expressivity that one portrays. In the Latin culture, there is typically a higher level of emotional expressivity. They outwards show their emotions more so than perhaps, an Anglo-American. This is speaking in general terms. There are always those who are exceptions to this. Some exceptions would be my husband and I. He, Mexican, shows almost no emotional expressions while I, Anglo-American, am very passionate and sometimes show too much emotion.

Keeping this in perspective as we teach others about culture will be beneficial. We want to make sure that our students know that while certain cultures do and believe certain things, there is still the individual who is more in depth than a general view of a culture.  So what are some ideas that we can use in our classrooms? Perhaps we can do some role plays. Also, there are going to be students of different cultures in our classrooms. Allow each of them to share their own personal experience of what is considered appropriate in their own culture. There are so many more activities to help students learn the deeper culture of the world than recipe sharing.

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CULTURAL DIFFERENCES – Differences in Manners: WEEK 7 6/7/2018

Have you done something in a different country that is completely acceptable in your own, only to find that you offended deeply offended someone? This is what can happen between cultures because manners are different in each culture.

In the United States, belching/burping is considered very rude. Yet in China it is considered a compliment to the Chef. It is a sign that you enjoyed your food. In the United States, giving someone a “peace” sign with your fingers is acceptable, but if you were in the UK and you gave that sign, but with the palm facing the opposite direction, this would be like you were giving someone the middle finger gesture.

There are so many examples of different things that are considered fine in country, but not OK in another. The important thing is to watch what others are doing around you. If you notice that no one publicly yawns, it is probably best to not yawn in public. If you have questions or are unsure if you should do it, it is best to er on the safe side and refrain from doing it.

Cultural Differences – Cross-Cultural Students: Week 7 6/7/2018

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During the video about cross-cultural students I found myself identifying more with the Asian students that complained about American students. It was said:

“‘What I don’t like about American students is that before class ends, they are always packing up their things while the teacher is still talking. It shows shocking disrespect.’ Another student from Asia said, ‘In America, the students have all left the room before the teacher is even done talking!'”

I find these two things very disrespectful. Our culture really values time. So why would one get ready to go before the allotted time is up. I understand if there is an emergency or if it was discussed with the teacher before the class began that they needed to leave early, but this is a constant thing that starts sometime in middle school and never ends. I haven’t seen this in any other culture.

As English teachers we must be fully aware of other cultures. There are several videos floating around the internet that show an African American student being “loud and disrespectful” to their white teacher. What people don’t realized is that that right there is a cultural difference. It may be the race, it may be the region of the country the student grew up in. The fact is, there is no need to be afraid. Get to know the background and cultural norms about your students. Not only will this help you as a teacher, but it will help build trust and respect in your classroom. Students will have a more relaxed environment because you are relaxed and they will learn more.

CULTURAL MISCOMMUNICATION: WEEK 5 5/26/2018

Being in a multicultural marriage has been such an amazing experience. It has had its challenges and will continue to bring more, but we have been enjoying a beautiful life. There have been so many miscommunications that we have had. Some come because the culture of a man and the culture of a women are very different. Our family dynamics are different. Though we both spoke English in the beginning, it wasn’t until I learned Spanish and we then had two bilinguals in the house did things get better when it came to language. The biggest cultural challenge that we have had is what in insulting and unacceptable in one culture and is just fine, even funny, in the other.

One event in particular comes to mind. One night when we were dating, we went on a walk and talked while we ate guavas. We decided to sit on a bench and Jose said in a cute voice, “oh mi gordita”. This translates as “my little fatty”. I thought I misheard and astonished said, “what?” “You are my gordita,” he stated. Oh no he did not! He did not just call me fat on one of our first dates. To me this was highly offensive, especially because I had worked 5 years in an Eating Disorder Treatment Center trying to combat negative body image. Well, while this was a bad thing to say in my culture, in Jose’s culture is was considered a very cute compliment. He was accepting me as I was and doing so in a loving way because he added “ita” at the end. We laugh at this now, but truth be told, this is a part of the cultural miscommunication that I’m still getting used to.

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HSBC Bank has set a great example for businesses and people all around the world to get to know the cultural differences between different parts of the world. If we are traveling, teaching, or working internationally it is so important to know the culture and respect it. The are many things that are normal to one, but to someone in a neighboring country it it offensive. Research before you travel or interact so that you are prepared for things you may encounter. If you are still unsure, ask a guide or a friend as you travel. This will save you a lot of embarrassment and awkward moments.

Cultural Differences Regarding Time: Week 5 5/24/2018

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Being here in Mexico there has always been one thing that has bothered me. There are times when I feel that the people here, especially in the smaller towns, don’t respect time  we set up for things. My husband live an hour away from the LDS branch that we attend. Because my husband is the president, we set up and go to all of the activities and meetings. I am going to school full-time and often put my homework off in order to go to these activities. After the activity, we have to drive another hour to get home. I am happy to do this. I am not happy when everyone shows up when there is a 1/2 hour left of the activity and expect it to run for the appointed 2 hours. I feel that my time and effort means nothing when this happens.

Watching and studying Brother Iver’s lesson about the cultural differences regarding time, a light bulb went off in my head. I am from a monochronic society and I live in a polychronic society. Monochronic societies value time spent and being on time. Polychronic societies value relationships more than time. So if someone said they were going to go to the Family History activity that I spent time planning and preparing for, but their cousin showed up at their house right before the activity, they will stay with their cousin. Having this knowledge can help my patience immensely!

How can this knowledge help us as English teachers? This helps us to understand the behavior of our students. We still need to be professional and on time as teachers, but knowing about the cultural differences will help us to have patience and understanding regarding why certain things are done. This knowledge doesn’t just help teachers, though. It helps anyone around the world. The world is becoming more and more integrated. One example is the United States. There are so many races and cultures that have gathered in the USA. Knowing about the different views of time will help in neighborhoods, the workplace, and in mixed families. Minds and hearts will be opened even more as we learn more about this cultural difference.

Cultural Paradigms: Week 5 5/22/2018

America is known as “the melting pot”. So many families from all over the world go to the United States for refuge and the promise of a better life. My husband is one of these. We are happy to announce that today he passed his interview at the border and we will begin our process of transferring to the United States. His story is one like so many others. A man from a different country, with different cultural views, looking for the “American dream”. Currently that dream is filled with racism from people in the country. What drives racism is ignorance. People don’t understand and accept that not everyone is the same or believes the same.

 
In the video “Cultural Differences” from National Geographic, we see how the fear of some neighbors effect the way the men can live in their new “free” country. The neighbors called authorities in fear after seeing the group of African men walking around town. The authorities then told them that it is best for the neighborhood if they travel separately. Is this the freedom they came for? No.

Because of cultural differences, there can be many misunderstandings. Each country has a different sense of humor. In the United States it is common to use humor at the expense of others. In other countries, this is not accepted. When one travels the world, it is important to keep an open mind and be respectful of the culture of the country you are visiting. This principle would be especially helpful for English Teachers. No, English is not the official language of the United States, but all through out the world, many are using English more and more. It is important as an English teacher, no matter where you are in the world, to be sensitive to the different cultural paradigms they may encounter. What is normal for one student may be highly offensive for another. I recommend that one way to get to know these differences is to open the floor to your students. Have a discussion, unit, or assignment where the students must present their culture to the class. This would be highly beneficial for the teacher and the other students. We really are a melting pot and must respect those that choose to come to America like our ancestors before us.

Response to “Is the Great American Teacher Dead” Week 2: 5/3/2018

I grew up in the United States. Honestly I don’t remember any of the lessons that I had while I was in school. Quite often I think back and wonder what I learned in my 12 years of schooling. I don’t remember a thing. I don’t even remember if I got good grades or not. Now this may or may not be because the form of teaching was boring. It couldn’t been because my brain just blocked it out. But looking at schools in different countries, I am beginning to see just how routine each lesson is in the United States.

Unfortunately we, the American people, are losing the desire to learn. What can help us retrieve that desire again? As I studied the article “Is the Great American Teacher Dead” by John J. Ivers, I realized that we lack enthusiasm in our classrooms. Teaching is a like a performance. When you teach you are presenting material or a presentation to students. Like my dad always says “It’s all in the presentation”. The more you keep people engaged, the more they enjoy and the more they retain. When you teach with enthusiasm, you instill a love of learning in your students. This helps them to go on further and become life-long learners.

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What kind of schooling do we want our children to have? Ivers created a list of characteristics that a successful classroom has. Let us keep the future of our children in mind as we look for good teachers and become good teachers.

1. Positive teacher-student relationship.

2. A good “delivery”
3. Edifies rather than damages a student’s self-concept
4. Clarity (through the use of many examples and
stories)
5. Encourages deep and critical thinking
6. Variety instead of monotony (do not forget the Ten-
Minute Rule)
7. Grading and workload is generally perceived to be
fair
8. Enthusiasm and zest for the topic
9. Meaningful to real world problems
10. Potentially transforms one’s world view from one of
uncritical acceptance of cultural dictates to one of
deep, reflective, and compassionate thinking

(Ivers, 2012)

The children are the future of our society. Let’s train them well and help them retain the information and gain the desire to be life-long learners.