Several teachers in our school conducted action research as part of a Dodge Grant - understanding cultural diversity and developing cultural awareness within our community, a K-5 elementary school. As part of our project we conducted a mini workshop at one of our staff meetings. There is much that we had to learn about diversity of customs and how innocently we might be insulting. I have attached a power point that was used during this presentation. It may prove enlightening to some.
I welcome additonal suggestions that could be added to our presentation for future use.
Thanks for sharing this useful PowerPoint with us. ArtsEdge's "What is Kala Saying with his Body" would go along nice with this topic of gesters. (Here is the URL: http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/content/3469/iact2/index.html.) I was at the JAG conference in July and one of the guest speakers was a manager at Disney World. He explained to us why all Disney employees point with 2 fingers since in some cultures it is considered offensive to point with one finger.
For the past two years, I've been trying to teach my mostly Chinese students about American cultural values, so that they understand our country better. I think it's helpful to them as newcomers to the U.S. to understand what we admire and what we expect in terms of classroom behavior, building community, and common values. I think it helps them feel more comfortable with non-ESL students. I use a simple text that focuses on different American cities. I use the book as a base for the discussions.
I'll be glad to as soon as I remember it! All my materials are at school. The book is not perfect, none are, but it just gave me a platform. I supplement with discussions of honesty, trustworthiness, our cultural values. I'm realistic enough to know that not all adults exhibit our values but hopefully we as teachers model most of them. I want my students to know what kind of values and behavior will make life better for them in the U.S. My students are a bit unusual because they come to the U.S. to study, but most of them stay on for college and sometimes graduate school. They need to know what is expected of them.
Thanks, I appreciate your information...and understand, since I, too, have more to share which is saved on my school computer.
Approximately 60% of my students remain in the US, as well.
I agree, knowledge of customs is crucial in our shrinking global society. It is incorporated in current NJ Curriculum Content Standards - 21st Century Skills for all learners, and is a major component of our school district's professional development plan.
I've been working on exactly this problem for a while now. I think of it from the perspective of civics. What you seem to be asking for is the means to a greater role in and sense of our civic responsibilities. And in thinking about it I realized that the web does create a unique opportunity to develop a radically new approach to civics--precisely because of the parity and anonymity that exists no where besides cyberspace. All we need to do is invent the interface, and technology, to create productive and rewarding roles in civics for everyone from pre-school toddlers to our oldest citizens.
Education itself IS the primary civic responsibility we all share. It's also one of the most important things every toddler should know--that their entire community is deeply committed to ensure they're prepared to become president. For this reason, the most significant roles we create in civics must be for children. In fact, I see no reason not to organize the entirety of their primary education around a productive role in local civics. I see no better way to ensure they get addicted to accomplishment. Or in mastering both the education and social skills necessary to be productive in groups. Or for us ensure they become deeply enfranchised and aware of the vast array of opportunities our culture, and their training, provides.
Their main role in civics is to maintain maps of the local economy. With an emphasis on the externalities, information flows, and opportunities. They do this by playing a sort of game that they themselves are constantly extending. And they're not the only ones playing--everyone in the community has a role if they wish (and a strong incentive to participate.) This is accomplished by a virtual currency, the holler, which represents our political capital. In essence, the approach is a model of our economy itself, except that the goods and services that are consumed, and the wealth traded to acquire them, are all political in nature. The whole idea is to make our political capital, and what it can be "spent" on, more tangible for us all.
I can say a great deal more about it, but only wished to convey the approach itself just now. I'm looking for educators who see the potential a project like this has, which I believe is substantial because it doesn't depend on making any changes to schools, or government, at all. It's simply an open source software project that any small community can easily deploy. I reckon the best way to get the school curriculum changed is by having the teachers and students work directly to utterly obsolete it. What will schools do when first graders show up knowing more than they expected to teach third graders? I'm guessing they'll realize they have the time to rethink their whole strategy and do so. Because I honestly believe that if we can create a fun and engaging way for young students to make a meaningful contribution to their communities we'll be hard pressed to even keep up with their craving for knowledge and opportunity.