Diversity of Learners

-This page contains a paper that illustrates my understanding and appreciation for the many cultures that exist in today’s schools. Attention must be given to each student, because students from different cultures learn in a variety of ways. My understanding of different cultures will enable me to be a more successful teacher in the future.

“Who Am I"

According to Cushner, McClelland, and Safford (2000), "Culture determines, to a large extent, our thoughts, ideas, ways of interacting, and material adaptations to the world around us"(p. 59). In other words culture is what makes us different. Culture diversity is the differences between people’s cultures. In order to be a culturally diverse person, one must realize, accept, and interact with cultures other than theirs. I am a very accepting and culturally diverse person. At this point in my life I reside in the humor phase of the U-curve hypothesis and am moving towards the final home phases (Cushner et al pg.97). Being culturally diverse has made many positive impacts on my life through meeting a variety of people and learning about their interesting cultures.

I am a founder and last year was the president of our school’s culture and diversity club. The club consisted of a variety of different cultures, nationalities, and personalities. The group was formed to break down the stereotypes and generalizations that existed in our high school. Our mission as the culture and diversity club was to have assemblies, lectures, speakers activities, and develop other ways to open student’s eyes to different cultures and people. We also hoped to take our group into the community and introduce our missions and aspirations to them. So far the group has been a tremendous success. Recently the other founders, our advisor, and I put together a book that was recently published about our club, with suggestions on how others can begin their own culture and diversity club in their community, workplace, or school. The group is in its third year running and has already started to change the world into a more culturally diverse and accepting place.

When the group first started I found myself in the honeymoon stage of the U-curve hypothesis (Cushner et al pg.97). According to Cushner, McClelland, and Safford (2000), during the honeymoon phase, "things are new and fresh; there are new people to meet, new ways of interaction, new foods to eat, new ideas to consider-nothing could be better"(pg.97). I found myself surrounded with new faces and challenges, which made me very excited and eager to learn more about the people in the group and people of different cultures in my life. Shortly after the honeymoon phase, I entered into the hostility phase of the U-curve hypothesis (Cushner etal pg.97). During the hostility phase other people’s behavior begins to seem awkward and annoying and there seems to be little or no progress (Cushner etal pg.97). During this phase I became very irritated with the different cultures represented in our group. It seemed as though their opinions and mine always conflicted and nothing was getting accomplished but senseless argument. I could not understand their behavior and my messages and suggestions seemed foreign to them. According to Cushner, McClelland, and Safford (2000), "At this point, a critical choice must be made: remain and learn how to function effectively within the new setting or allow the frustrations to build and eventually retreat from the unpleasant situation"(pg. 97). Sadly, most people choose to retreat, but I wanted to fulfill the mission statement and goals of our group, so I worked hard to overcome the differences in the group and now lie in the humor phase. In the humor phase I am able to laugh at all the pre-conceived notions and problems I had in the beginning (Cushner et al). It now seems senseless to have fought over such petty and insignificant details during our planning.

Overcoming the first two phases of the U-curve hypothesis takes the most time and effort. Now that I have reached the humor phase I am setting my goals on reaching the home phase. During the home phase, "Individuals are able to interpret the world and interact with others, both from their own perspective and from the perspective of that which has been alien to them before"(Cushner etal, pg.98, 2000). I believe that I am very close to this phase, but need to work on looking at the situation from other’s perspectives. I know that it is important to look at everything from two perspectives, but that is difficult for many, including myself. In the future I plan to reach the home phase and as a teacher I hope to teach my students in such a way that they will experience the phases of the U-curve hypothesis and one-day reach the home phase also. If everyone takes the time to get to know about other cultures and bears the sometimes-frustrating steps of the U-curve hypothesis, the world would be a more peaceful and accepting place. I hope to do my part and create a culture and diversity club in the school I teach to ensure that the students understand the importance of getting to know others that are different from them. Cushner, McClelland, and Safford (2000) stated, "Schools are cultural crossroads in a society where distinct but overlapping student, teacher, and school cultures intersect"(pg.93), which shows that it is extremely important that the students are taught to respect other cultures and learn to interact with them.

References

Cushner, K., McClelland, A., & Safford, P. (2000). Human Diversity in Education (3rd ed.). Kent: Kent State University.