Social Studies and Diversity in America
The great investigator of childhood growth and development,Jean Piaget,once noted that all genuine learning is spontaneous. It happens in the moment. The rewards of joy, accomplishment, sharing, persistence, teamwork, and a job well done seem to happen along the way.
Social studies is learning about human activity,and the best way to learn about human activity is to make sure that every child you teach feels that he or she is truly part of the daily life of the classroom.In other words,experience is the best teacher.If the experience is one that is positive, uplifting, respectful, and sensitive, then children will feel included.This iswhere cultural sensitivity begins: with inclusion. Each child must be included. There is no room for exclusion.
As the United States grows culturally more diverse, the need for developmentally appropriate education designed to help children understand, tolerate, and appreciate cultural differences becomes increasinglycritical.
How Do You CreateaCulturallyResponsive Learning Environment in YourClassroom?
When students feel their basic needs of safety, belonging, and curiosity are being met, they are ready for the challenges of ideas that are relevant to their lives, challenges that are developmentally appropriate and of interest.
1. Use coursework based on human needs and childhood interests.
This involves nurturing students to believe in their own ideas and to express them in an accepting caring environment. It also involves a search for meaning in what is being taught and learned, raising issues of honesty, value, andworth.
2.Use teaching as a collaboration with learners
John Dewey thought an elementary classroom was at its best when it wasa miniature community in which democracy, in the full sense of the term, came to life.Integration of subject matter is a wonderful thing, but integration of people who care and share is even more important.
3. Havea community of learners who share and work together in a spirit ofcollaboration.
1. Whatdo you consider to bethe most important qualifications for a teacherwho works with children of different cultural and racial/ethnic backgrounds?Why? What might a prospectiveteacherdo to ensure that he or she will enter the classroom with those qualifications intact?
2. Giventhe pressing educational issues related to diversity,what are the implications of this for the way your students study history, geography, civics, and the other social studies disciplines”?
Consider your own heritage. Create a family tree and identify your ancestors and know where they came from. In what ways do you think your own heritage has affected you?
Compareyour culture with the culture of another group and identify similarities and differences with regard to food, shelter, language, religion, art, and beliefs.Choose another country to compare with the United States. (use worksheet)