Teaching Multicultured Students: Culturism and Anti-Culturism in School Classrooms

Teaching Multicultured Students: Culturism and Anti-Culturism in School Classrooms

Teaching Multicultured Students: Culturism and Anti-Culturism in School Classrooms

Teaching Multicultured Students: Culturism and Anti-Culturism in School Classrooms

Synopsis

Suggestions for making classroom and teaching practice more effective for bilingual and bidialectical pupils. Case studies are used, which give voice to student and practising teacher perspectives which are often unheard. This book will help teachers develop practice that combats actual exclusion and the 'symbolic' exclusion that some multicultured students experience.

Excerpt

[L]egal slavery may be in the past, but segregation and subordination have been allowed to persist.

(Hacker 1995, p.229)

My active interest in bilingualism and bidialectalism started in April 1969, when I took up my first teaching post at an inner-London secondary school. Having received no formal teacher training and having had only a very limited experience of secondary schooling after attending a boys’ grammar school from the age of eleven to eighteen, I took into this post a common-sense and, with the benefit of hindsight, profoundly flawed notion of what teaching and learning ought to be about. This included perceiving surface errors in my students’ written work as symptoms of laziness, slovenliness or plain stupidity (at any rate, as unsightly blots deserving of the most rigorous red-inking at my disposal), and seeing any differences at all between my students’ performance and ‘standard’ English practices as deviations that must be rectified instantly and without explanation. Mine was an unquestioning acceptance of the received cultural practices of school and academic life as the only right cultural practices, and of other cultural practices as simply gone-wrong versions of that standard.

Fortunately, my students did not allow me to get away with this sort of thinking for too long. Under their determined, sometimes brutally frank guidance, my uneducated practice gradually gave way to more appropriate forms of pedagogy, linked to a much clearer understanding not only of how the learning process worked but of what was actually going on in the schools I worked in and the world I lived in. When I moved on to posts in other schools, working first with large numbers of bidialectal students and then with even larger numbers of bilingual students, that process gathered speed and focus. I still made mistakes, of course, the way all teachers do, and in many ways this book is about those mistakes and about the lessons they taught me. However, I like to think that the mistakes receded as the voices of my students

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