Monday, October 25, 2010

Cultural Literacy in Action



On October 8, 2010 we held our 3rd class session.  We began by having a skype session with Bruce Ashton, elementary principal at Sinarmas World Academy.  Bruce has worked in a number of schools where they have used the IB curriculum, based on units of inquiry.  We were able to ask a number of questions that helped us clarify our plans for guided inquiry.  We are beginning to finalize our units and found this process extremely helpful. 

As an extension of this work, a subcommittee is working on the creation of a rubric - to be used by teachers and students - on collaborative reasoning.  
Following is a rubric - with references - on cultural literacy.  Take a look.  These pieces are necessary in the classroom:)

CULTURAL LITERACY


Definition:

Culturally literacy is the ability to understand and appreciate the similarities and differences in the customs, values, and beliefs of one’s own culture the cultures of others.


Quote:

“No culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive.” 

-Mahatma Gandhi as cited on http://www.chesco.com/~artman/gandhi.html Accessed 11-26-01.

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Importance in the Digital Age:

As citizens of one of the most diverse nations in the world, it has been particularly important that Americans be sensitive to the role that culture plays in the behaviors, beliefs, and values of themselves and others.   The advent of new communications technology only makes this sensitivity more imperative.  Within the virtual worlds of e-mail, chat rooms, virtual classrooms, and even multi-player gaming environments, individuals from cultures and societies around the globe are interacting with a frequency that was unimaginable even a decade ago. 

In order to work cooperatively with individuals from vastly different backgrounds, students must appreciate and understand the beliefs and values that drive them.  These qualities must reflect a notion of cultural literacy that is broader than it has been in the past:  first, it must be sensitive to the many sub-cultures that exist within the larger American society; second, it must include newly developing technological cultures such as virtual workspaces, and chat-room environments; and third, it must recognize the evolutionary nature of culture and the impact that technology had had – and will continue to have – on cultures worldwide. 

Understanding other cultures has two notable benefits: 1) it multiplies our access to practices, ideas, and people that can make positive contributions to our own society; and 2) it helps us understand ourselves more deeply. By understanding a range of alternatives, we become aware of our own implicit beliefs – beliefs so deeply imbedded that we routinely take them for granted (Stigler, Gallimore and Hiebert, 2000).


Profile of a Culturally Literate Student:

Culturally literate students are knowledgeable and appreciative of the way that culture and history – their own as well as those of others – impact behaviors, beliefs, and relationships in a multicultural world.  Such students:

  • understand that culture impacts their behavior and beliefs, and the behavior and beliefs of others. 
  • are aware of specific cultural beliefs, values, and sensibilities that might affect the way that they and others think or behave.
  • appreciate and accept diverse beliefs, appearances, and lifestyles.
  • are aware that historical knowledge is constructed, and is therefore shaped by personal, political, and social forces.  
  • know the history of both mainstream and non-mainstream American cultures, and understand that these histories have an impact today.   
  • are able to take the perspective of non-mainstream groups when learning about historical events.
  • know about major historical events of other nations and understands that these events impact behaviors, beliefs, as well as relationships with others.
  • are aware of the similarities between groups of different cultural backgrounds and is acceptant of differences between them.
  • understand the dangers of stereotyping and other biases; are aware of and sensitive to issues of racism and prejudice.  
  • are bilingual or multilingual, or working towards these proficiencies.
  • can communicate, interact, and work positively with individuals from other cultural groups.
  • understand how the use of technology and the Internet impacts worldviews.
  • use technology in order to communicate with individuals and access resources from other cultures.
  • are familiar with existing cultural norms of new technology environments (instant messaging, virtual workspaces, e-mail), and are able to interact successfully in such environments.  


Continuum of Progress:

Indicator
Novice
Basic
Proficient
Advanced
Awareness of culture
Student is largely ignorant of specific value systems that contribute to the way that he / she and others behave, OR he/she possesses negative, stereotyped beliefs about different cultural groups.  
Student is aware that culture impacts his / her own behavior and the behavior of others; however, understanding of specific beliefs and value systems is largely superficial or incomplete. 
Student possesses some knowledge of specific beliefs, values, and sensibilities that contribute to the way that he / she and others behave. 
Student is highly knowledgeable about specific cultural beliefs, values, and sensibilities that might affect the way that he / she and others think or behave. 
Awareness of history and its impact
Student is largely unknowledgeable about the history of his own and others’ cultures, and he/she shows no interest in learning more. 
Student possesses basic knowledge about history, mostly focused on mainstream American cultures. He / she is largely unaware of how history has shaped relationships among diverse groups. 
Student knows some history of mainstream and non-mainstream American cultures, and of other nations; he / she understands that these histories impact relationships today, but this understanding is unsophisticated.  
Student has substantial knowledge of history of both mainstream and non-mainstream American cultures, and the history of other nations.  He / she has a sophisticated  understanding of how these histories have impacted relationships among groups.  
Perspective taking - history
Student does not realize that knowledge of history is socially and politically constructed; when learning about history, does not independently assume the perspective of non-mainstream groups. 
Student requires substantial assistance to recognize that knowledge of history is socially constructed, and to assume the perspective of non-mainstream groups when learning history.
Student realizes that history is socially constructed.  With minimal guidance, he / she is able to take the perspective of non-mainstream groups when learning about historical events. 
Student realizes that history is socially and politically constructed, and has sufficient knowledge to spontaneously take the perspective of non-mainstream groups when learning history. 
Stereotyping and bias
Student does not understand that stereotyping and other biases are not acceptable, and tends to engage in these behaviors.  Student internalizes implicit, biased messages about other cultural groups (e.g., in media). 
At a general level, student understands that stereotyping and other biases are not acceptable; however, he/she is not sensitive to the impact of prejudice or to biased messages about other cultural groups (e.g., in media). 
Student understands the dangers of stereotyping and other biases; he/she is aware of and sensitive to issues of racism and prejudice, and sometimes recognizes biased messages about other cultural groups (e.g., in media). 
Student understands the dangers of stereotyping and other biases, is sensitive to issues of racism and prejudice, and highly cognizant of biased messages about other cultural groups (e.g., within media). 
Tolerance
Student fails to recognize similarities between his/her own culture and other cultures; he/she judges differences in behavior or lifestyle negatively, and does not associate with individuals from different cultural groups.
With a few exceptions, student fails to recognize similarities between his/her own culture and other cultures.  Although not negative about differences in behavior or lifestyle, student only occasionally associates with individuals from different cultures.
With guidance, student is cognizant of similarities between his/her own culture and other cultures.    He/she appreciates and accepts individuals with diverse beliefs, appearances, and lifestyles.
Student understands that individuals from diverse cultures share some fundamental beliefs; he/she appreciates and accepts diversity, and seeks opportunities to learn about and interact with different cultures.
Language proficiency
Student is not interested in learning other languages.  Efforts made towards these skills are superficial and motivated almost entirely by course requirements. 
Student is willing to learn another language, but does not appreciate the value of this skill.  Although student makes a genuine attempt to learn a new language, these efforts are motivated by course requirements. 
Student understands the value of being multilingual, is at or working towards this proficiency, and is intrinsically motivated to acquire new languages. 
Student understands the value of being multilingual, is at or working towards this proficiency, and is intrinsically motivated to learn not only a new language, but also about the culture from which the language is derived.
Interactions with individuals from different cultures
Student communicates, interacts, or works poorly with individuals from other cultural groups.
Under supervision, student can generally communicate, interact, and work positively with individuals from other cultural groups.
Student usually communicates, interacts, and works positively with individuals from other cultural groups.
Student almost always communicates, interacts, and works positively with individuals from other cultural groups; he/she seeks opportunities to learn from diverse perspectives.
Use of resources from different cultures
Student avoids using technology to gain access to individuals or resources from other cultures.
With substantial guidance, student is willing to use technology to gain access to individuals or resources from other cultures; however, these efforts are generally motivated by course requirements.
Student sometimes uses technology to gain access to individuals or resources from other cultures; these efforts are sometimes self-initiated and intrinsically motivated.
Student regularly uses technology to gain access to individuals or resources from other cultures; these efforts are generally motivated by interest and exceed course requirements.
Awareness of the way that  technology influences worldviews

Student does not understand that technology impacts his/her own and others’ worldviews.
Student understands that technology allows access to other cultures, but does not understand the impact of this access on worldviews or societies.
Student has some understanding of the way technology impacts his/her own and others’ worldviews.
Student has an insightful understanding of the way technology impacts his/her own and others’ worldviews (e.g., by allowing individuals to access pop culture, news, ideas, from other societies).
Culture of technological environments
Student has no knowledge about the culture of technological environments (e.g., online chats, instant messaging, MOOs, MUDs), and, does not participate in these forums.
Student has some basic knowledge about the culture of technological environments (e.g., online chats, instant messaging, MOOs, MUDs), and participates minimally in these forums.
Student is reasonably fluent in the culture of technological environments (e.g., online chats, instant messaging, MOOs, MUDs), and can participate frequently in these forums.
Student has substantial and sophisticated knowledge about the culture of technological environments (e.g., online chats, instant messaging, MOOs, MUDs), and can participate fully in these forums.


References and Links:

Arvizu, S. and Saravia-Shore, M.  (1990). Cross-Cultural Literacy, An Anthropological Approach to Dealing with Diversity.  Education and Urban Society, 22(4), pgs. 364-376.

Banks, J. A., Cookson, P., Gay, G, Hawley, W., Irvine, J. J., Nieto, S., Schofield, J. W., and  Stephan, W. G. (2001).  Diversity within Unity.  Essential Principles for Teaching and Learning in a Multicultural Society [Online]. Available: http://depts.washington.edu/coe/news/DiversityUnity.pdf

Beaupre, B.  (2000). Blending Cultural, Academic, and Technological Communication:  Literacy for the New Millennium.  ED 441234 [Online]. Available: http://ed.gov.databases/ERIC_Digests/ed441234.html

Brandt, Ron (1994).  On Educating for Diversity: A Conversation with James A. Banks. Educational Leadership, 51(8), pgs. 28-31

Burnette, J (1999).  Critical Behaviors and Strategies for Teaching Culturally Diverse Students.  ED 435147 [Online]. Available: http://ed.gov.databases/ERIC_Digests/ed435147.html

Anicich, M. and Kirk, R.  (1999). Cultural Awareness Education in Early Childhood Education.  ED 433928 [Online]. Available: http://ed.gov.databases/ERIC_Digests/ed433928.html

Gay, Geneva (1994).  A Synthesis of Scholarship in Multicultural Education.  Urban Education Monograph Series.  NCREL. [Online]. Available:  www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/educatrs/leadrshp/le0gay.htm

Gura, Mark (1994).  The Human Mosaic Project.  Educational Leadership, 51(8), pgs. 40-1

Hirsch, E. D. (1987).  Cultural Literacy:  What Every American Needs to Know.  Boston: Houghton Miffin

Janzen, Rod (1994).  Melting Pot or Mosaic.  Educational Leadership, 51(8), pgs. 9-11

Ladson-Billings, Gloria (1994).  What We Can Learn From Multicultural Education Research.  Educational Leadership, 51(8), pgs. 22-26

Parkinson, W. and Saunders, S. (1999).   Cultural Literacy and Languages:  Enabling Students to Learn to Live Together.  ED 449058

Petropoulou, Z.  (1992). Cross-Cultural Awareness in Teaching Business French Courses in an Academic Environment:  Problems and Difficulties. ED357599

Stigler, J. W., Gallimore, R., Hiebert, J. (2000).  Using video surveys to compare classrooms and teaching across cultures:  Examples and lessons from the TIMSS Video Studies.  Educational Psychologist, 35(2), 87-100.

Taylor, P.  (1999). Cultural Literacy: Are Practically Average Knowledge Levels Enough.  ED 448148 [Online]. Available: http://ed.gov.databases/ERIC_Digests/ed448148.html

Wass Van Ausdall, Barbara (1994).  Books Offer Entry into Understanding Cultures.  Educational Leadership, 51(8), pgs. 32-5


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