Meeting Youth Through Culture And The Classroom
Guest article by Heather Penn
Around ten years ago during one of my Master’s classes, I had to write a philosophy of teaching. I discussed how education involves an environment that engages people to critically think and share their ideas, to improve understanding and learning. As educators, we need to have an open mind with our students, if not we fail to benefit from countless valuable lessons that the students will teach us. Teachers should be up to date with important current events and be able to relate the information to the students in their lesson plans. To be an effective teacher, one must remember their childhood and the circumstances that they dealt with before they enter the classroom.
Being a scholar can benefit an elementary school classroom because you may have the knowledge and resources to help students gain information that they may not be aware of outside of the school.
Teachers should always look forward to helping their students develop into confident, well-rounded people. Educators should be eager to help their students find the confidence in themselves to be proud of their cultures, and also provide an environment where they can share their differences with their peers. I feel that this is even more important for the world that we live in today.
This essay was even more prominent after I recently attended my daughter’s culture fair event during school hours. My daughter has a mixed ethnicity. Her father is Thai, and I am Italian and Russian.
The class had to create a heritage project using google doc slides for this event. When my husband and I attended the event, some of the students presented their heritage slides in front of the audience. Not all of the children were able to present their projects due to the large number of students in the classroom.
As a former classroom teacher I understand limiting the number of student presentations, but when the school is lacking in diversity, this would have been a perfect opportunity for my daughter and a few of her peers to share a couple of their slides which displayed their differences.
While this was a Parent Teacher Association run event during school hours, it is essential to have control within the school so educators can prevent situations like this one.
More oversight from the administration and educators could have prevented such an issue. While I understand the need for parental involvement in schools, parents should not be empowered to make decisions on behalf of the school during class time hours. For a school that has 2% of children who are two or more races, this would have been the perfect time to present how important it is for schools to acknowledge diversity and show how it can benefit all students.
This time was a perfect opportunity to show other children how diversity can connect to real-world events, such as The Chinese New Year. The Chinese New Year is a holiday that is celebrated in different areas all around the world.
As educators, we have to remember that once students leave the educational setting, they will interact with different cultures. Let’s start preparing our children now to ensure a more positive future.