Knowing, Valuing, and Sharing One's Culture: A Precursor to Acknowledging, Accepting, and Respecting the Cultures of Others
As America's schools become increasingly heterogeneous, the shrinking teaching force grows more culturally homogeneous (e.g., euro-centric, middle class, female with limited cross-cultural interaction). The majority of such teachers will lack the self-awareness, global sensitivity and cross-cultural experiences necessary to address the needs of their students adequately, acknowledge the cultural capital these children bring to the school community, or advocate for a global civil society (Brown, 2004a; Hilliard, 1992; Pang, 2001). As societies take on a more global perspective and strive for economic interdependent without exploitation, it is critical that teacher educators the world over work collectively to facilitate cross-cultural competency in teacher candidates. Teacher perceptions, attitudes and beliefs about diverse ethnic groups are important constructs that influence teacher behaviors and student learning (Brown, 2004a, Gay, 2000; Kagan, 1992). However, perceptions and beliefs often emanate from past experiences, affect current behaviors subconsciously and are frequently difficult to clarify or articulate. In teacher education, the subjective nature of cultural puzzles can connect, decipher, and communicate subconscious beliefs about "self," and "others" and the perceived relationship between the two (Bogan and Biklen, 1998; Collier and Collier, 1986; Harper, 1998; Quan, 1979; Taylor, 2002). In K-12 classrooms and in higher education, teachers use self-generated pictures as prompts to: (1) establish connections between the students' prior experiences and the subject matter, (2) help students understand and organize written materials, (3) encourage students to expand their horizons, and (4) help students visualize and share their cultural capital with peers (Allen, et al., 2002; Gonzalez, et al., 1995; Moll, et al., 1992; Orellana, 1999; Sinatra, et al., 1990). Cultural puzzles uses self-generated artifacts to assist students in examining how their current cultural frames-of-reference developed, communicate the source of their perceptions and behaviors, and explore ways in which they can begin to view education from a global perspective.
Keywords: Multicultural Education, Cultural Values, Social Justice
Dr. Elinor L. Brown
Assistant Professor in Communication Arts, College of Education
Teaching: Teach graduate level teacher education, cultural diversity, business education, and writing for presentation and publication courses.
Publications: 10 significant articles in major refereed journals, 2 book chapters in international publications, over 25 significant national and international presentations, reviewer for 4 nationally recognized journals.
25 PRESENTATIONS: International 6: University of Zimbabwe, Masvingo Degree Program, Zimbabwe, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Fudan University, China, University of Havana, Cuba. National Refereed 11: American Educational Research Association, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, National Association for Multicultural Education, National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education.
National Invited 8: Lilly Conference on College Teaching.