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Darnell Logan

Cultural Responsiveness: What is it and How Can We Reach This Goal? Darnell Logan National Louis University

Darnell Logan

Cultural Responsiveness: What is it and How Can We Reach This Goal? What Does it Mean to be Culturally Responsive? What does it mean to be culturally responsive? Does it mean I have to learn everything about every culture? If so, is that even possible? Does it mean I can be a jack of all cultures,? Will it suffice to be empathetic of ones culture? How will I know Im providing a culturally responsive/relevant environment for my students? In this reflection, I will attempt to answer these questions and make connections from articles weve read in class, videos weve seen, and personal connections/experiences from myself and my students throughout the years. Cultural Relativism/Cultural Responsiveness Cultural responsiveness comes from the term cultural relativism, which is a principle regarding the beliefs, values, and practices of a culture from that cultures perspective or viewpoint. In regard to cultural relativism, cultural responsiveness is an inclusive approach of inquiry and action to foster effective programs, policies, and practices that are respectful of cultural conditions within communities. What does this mean? Cultural relativism helps one become empathetic towards other cultures. Cultural responsiveness helps one build program, rules, and incorporates practices that recognize cultures. What Does This Mean in Terms of the Classroom? Many of the 13 AUSL residents will be in culturally diverse schools and classroom; at least cultures that differ from what we are used to. As educators we are supposed to create classrooms that are least restrictive for students, creates a

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environment for learning, and an environment of diversity. The diversity portion of the classroom is important, not only because there is diversity among the students in the classroom, but also because there is diversity throughout this country and world. As teachers, we have to open the minds of our students and help them see and think outside of their neighborhood and city. One small reason why there is culture clash in this culture is because we as people can only see situations from our perspective, which is why cultural responsiveness is so important in and outside the classroom. What Can You and I do to Become Culturally Responsive? Recognizing other cultures is a great start to cultural responsiveness. Now we have to focus on what we can do to become culturally responsive and truly understand there are cultural differences in the country, and it doesnt necessarily deal with race. There are many ways we can about understanding other cultures in this country. Many cultural festivals are held in major cities, where you can ask questions, experience food, dance, rituals, music, clothing, customs, religion, and much more. We just have to get out and take in the experiences with an open mind and warm heart. These experiences can and will open our minds and focus more on the positive stereotypes and newly leaned customs, rather than the one-sided negative stereotypes we may have heard or seen from the few experiences weve had on this earth. The library is also a great source to help expand knowledge and understanding of other cultures in this country. Whatever avenue one may choose to become culturally relevant, make sure the source(s) is/are reliable and you choose more than one source. The more you dive into a culture the more you can gain, become culturally relevant in the community, and move

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toward becoming culturally responsive in the classroom with diverse cultures and learners. How Does This Tie Into You Classroom? Cultural responsiveness creates an environment of learning in itself. It opens the minds of everyone in the classroom; teacher and students. In the classroom we have to show our students they can be more than what they see on television or what they see around their neighborhood. To do this, we can have monthly themes dedicated to several cultures represented in the school/classroom, show diversity in culture contributions to subject matter, for example, Language Arts providing poems from Latin, African, African American, Hispanic, Caucasian, and East Indian cultures for comparing and contrasting. A math teacher displaying the contributions Africans, Mayans, Romans, and Arabs have had on number systems, calendars, and structures. Last, but not least, we can show our students how they can be whatever they want to be, by displaying more than what they see on a regular basis. We can show Black and Indian doctors, female engineers, male nurses, Asian basketball players, and much more. In my FND 511 class a Nigerian born writer named Chimamanda Adichie, gave a quick commentary on her how her experiences helped shape her into the person and world renowned writer she has become. She gave an example of her college roommate in the US. She expressed how her roommate often displayed sympathy for a girl from Africa, when there was no need for it. The American roommate had the wrong perspective of what Nigeria was like. She used Nigeria and Africa synonymously, not knowing Nigeria is one of many countries inside the great continent of Africa. Ms. Adichies roommate was surprised was surprised her English was as so well, not

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knowing the native tongue in Nigeria is English. Later, she goes on to state how the problems with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but they are incomplete. Chimamanda Adichies roommate became culturally relevant through learning her culture, customs, and much more. We dont want our students to become culturally relevant like Adichies roommate; we want them to learn all about many cultures and open their eyes to experiences outside of the small city of Chicago. We have to show our students that creating an environment where they not only recognize other cultures, but also recognize achievement is not just for one race or culture. Success should be the destination for all cultures. How Does SES Affect Cultural Responsiveness? In a perfect world socioeconomic status wouldnt be a hindrance to cultural responsiveness, but it is. As I stated before, we see things from our own perspective and experiences. Different classes of economic status view things differently. Take the Two Towns of Jasper article for example. After James Byrd Jr. was chained to the back of a truck and dragged to his death, we were able to see the difference in perspectives when it came to economic status. The upper class, whites and blacks, felt the incident to be a surprise and not representative of how Jasper truly is. On the other hand, the lower class of Jasper felt this is fitting to the climate of the town and is felt the incident was indicative of Jaspers true nature. Its amazing how a town so small can have such varying perspectives on the climate of the town and how this town is lacking in cultural responsiveness. What affects does the government have on cultures?

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Has the government played a positive role in helping our country become culturally relevant and responsive? I would have to say both yes and no. Yes, because efforts have been taken to accept cultures into the country, but many efforts werent put into action without fighting from the persecuted cultures. This country still has a problem accepting certain people as well. Take Caroline Temmermand for example. She is a transgender female who has taken quite the route to being accepted by her family and peers. Caroline is a part of an article reflection I did on transgender rights and their acceptance into this country. Reports from the article stated how nearly half of the collegiate transgender community has been physically attacked or assaulted with a weapon. Although transgender is classified as a medical condition, insurance doesnt cover operations or even regular check ups like mammograms. I would have to say the government has had a negative impact on cultural responsiveness due to the strategic segregation of schools and races. Unfortunately, the perspectives of people vary as weve seen in the Jasper article. This is an issue on a country-wide scale and will continue as long as this country is run as it is. Can Cultural Responsiveness Bridge the Gap in Test Scores? As we talk a lot about cultural relevance and cultural responsiveness, I wonder can or will becoming culturally responsive in the classroom help increase scores on standardized test scores, and can cultural responsiveness help close the gap between suburban and urban school test scores. As a personal believe I dont think it will make a significant difference when it comes to improving test scores, especially in the urban community public schools. I say this because, teachers still have to be able to relay content to our students regardless of the diversity we may encounter in our classrooms.

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We can encourage our students to strive to be the best they can be, but without us properly giving them the tools they need to achieve those goals, we are bouncing checks. Another question is how much time or effort do we focus on incorporating cultural diversity and responsiveness when the test is all the government is concerned with and the content is all we need to get across to the students. We have to tread across a very thin line of motivating our students and keeping our jobs. Since there is no real significance in cultural diversity increasing test scores alone, there isnt a strong correlation between cultural responsiveness and bridging the achievement gap between suburban and urban school standardized test scores. Again, the question rises, does our government truly care about bridging this gap or cultural diversity. Does the government want things to stay just like they are; arm the strong and kill the weak? Conclusion I do not doubt cultural diversity and responsiveness is important to a classroom setting and even to a students ability to aspire to achieve higher than their family and peers. We can use culturally relevant examples, like scientists, projects, positive role models, etc to help build our culturally relevant classrooms. We can even use themes as forms to motivate our students. Ultimately we have to answer to AUSL and ISBE (to a certain degree). Whats important is getting the scores up. Where do we place our importance?

Darnell Logan Works Cited

Dow, W. & Williams, M. (2004). PreView: History and Identity, Spotlight: Two Towns of Jasper. Two Towns of Jasper. 1, 8-26 http://www.chegg.com/homework-help/definitions/cultural-relativism-49

http://collaboration.omni.org/sites/dbh/Documents/Cultural%20Responsiveness %20Definitions%20and%20Items.pdf

http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html