Cultural Proficiency for Diverse Students’ Understanding and Retention
I think one of the implicit lessons for us is the application of these theories to our diverse student population. It is proposed that “learning” needs to be more than memorization because transferability of that learning is critical in a fast changing world. If students bring with them a vast array of backgrounds, as is the case in multi-cultural Southern California, AND if connecting and scaffolding to those varying backgrounds is required to build students’ capacity to learn and apply prior knowledge, AND that therefore our job becomes understanding all of our students’ existing schemas, THEN our mission as teachers encompasses becoming more culturally proficient.
On one hand, this seems a bit unfair to the teacher who is overworked just meeting content requirements – is it right to expect him or her now to ALSO delve into deep understanding of a multitude of cultures? On the other hand, we repeatedly see evidence that non-Anglo students many times underperform their Anglo counterparts. We also see many teachers who are Anglo. This combination of facts brings one to wonder how the contextualization of the Anglo teacher brings advantage to the Anglo students versus the non-Anglo students. It also causes me to think that, regardless of whether it is more work or not, really we have no choice but to improve our multi-cultural proficiency if we want to maximize our effectiveness in the classroom.