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ession6

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TheClassroomMosaic:
CultureandLearning

DoCurricularStudiesDemonstrateUpliftor
DeculturizationofDisadvantagedStudents?

WilliamJ.Smith
June12,2016

ResponseFile:wjs_session6culture_learning_12June2016

Agrowingbodyofresearchillustratesthatthevastdifferencesincurriculum
opportunitiesacrossU.S.schoolsarethesinglegreatestsourceofdifferencesin
outcomesamongstudents.Studiesduringthepastdecadehaverepeatedlyfoundthat
studentsfromdifferentgroupswhotakesimilarcoursesandhaveaccesstoequally
richcurriculumandequallywellqualifiedteachersperformsimilarly.
(DarlingHammond2000,pg.73)

CurriculummattersyetIdoubtthatcurriculumisthegreatestsourceofdifferencesin
learningoutcomesamongstudents.Familyandcultureare.Nocurriculumcanbe
broadlyeffectiveifyoungstersfeelthreatened,arehungry,theirfriendsrejectschool
normsand,asinthecaseofmanyyoungfemales,theircultureandfamilydiscourage
learning.

Ms.DarlingHammondsconjecturethatdifferencesincurriculumopportunitiesarethe
mostsignificantfactorindetermininglearningoutcomesconsidersprimarilyfactors
nominallyunderthecontroloftheeducationalcommunity.Byignoringfactorsoutside
ofthatcommunityscontrolthatinterferewithlearning,suchasfamilyinstability,
violence,andhunger,itperpetuatesthemyththatschoolsalonecanfixsocialproblems.
Herdiscussionofstudiesthatshecitesassupportingherconjectureshouldclarify
whether,whatevertheireconomicorculturalbackground,thestudentscameprimarily
fromstablefamilies.

Discussionofsuchstudiesshouldalsoconsiderimpactsofchangesoutsideofthe
school.Forinstance,inastudycomparingthelearningperformanceofinnercity
studentsresettledinChicagosuburbscomparedtothoseresettledelsewhereinpublic
housingwithinthecity,thoseresettledtothesuburbswouldlikelyhaveloosenedties
withtheiroldneighborhoods.Perhapsbreakingtieswitholdfamilynetworkswho
rejectedschoolnormstopreventdeculturalizationandformationofnewfamily
networksthatsupportedschoolnormsinthesuburbswereasimportantastheschool
curriculumtoimprovingperformance.

Exclusionofthosewhorejectschoolnormsmaybeasimportanttosuccessofschools
andstudentsasrichcurriculum.DarlingHammondwritesthatmostgoodschools(or
goodprogramswithinschools)...havesecuredtheiradvantagesbyexcludingby
economics,neighborhood,achievementscores,orracialcodesthosewhorepresentthe
otherhalf(ormore)ofchildren.(DarlingHammond2000,pg.71)

Eveniflearningperformanceimproveswhenstudentsandtheirfamiliesvoluntarily
resettletothesuburbs,isacurriculumorschoolsuccessfulwhenitdeculturizesurban
youthbyforcingonthemacurriculumwhosecontentandtextbooksreflecttheculture
ofwhitesuburbswithfewopportunitiestoexpressorstudytheirowncultureunderthe
tutelageofteachersfromtheirownculture?(DarlingHammond2000,pg.80)

References
1.LindaDarlingHammondetal.(2003).TheLearningClassroom:TheoryInto
Practice.Detroit:AnnenbergMedia.
2.LindaDarlingHammond(2000).SchoolContextsandLearning:Organizational
InfluencesontheAchievementofStudentsofColor,in
AddressingCulturalIssuesin
Organizations:BeyondtheCorporateContext
,RobertT.Cartereditor,ThousandOaks,
California:SagePublications.