Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Teaching Culturally Diverse Students

Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Teaching Culturally Diverse Students

Article excerpt

Market segmentation is an ideal tool to understand and teach the increasingly diverse student population. It begins with a search for a marketing opportunity followed by the development and implementation of a strategy and then appropriate follow-up practices.

American culture is more diverse than ever. Not so long ago whites were the dominant majority in public schools, but there now are far higher numbers of blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other minorities. White students still are the largest numerical group, but Hispanics and Asians are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population because of immigration and higher birth rates. This new ethnic mix creates a brew of many values, lifestyles and languages in schools.

Another factor to consider is socio-economics, as immigrants and minorities make up a large part of the growing "under-class" that has trouble finding productive employment and sustaining an adequate income.

Unfortunately, within any cultural group, those who live in poverty and who have unstable homes are more likely to bring problems to school. Low academic performance, poor attendance, discipline problems, crime, drug abuse, teen pregnancy and high dropout rates often are linked to disadvantaged conditions. In addition, disadvantaged students tend to have low career and educational aspirations and poor self-esteem.

While economic conditions affect personal development, many experts also believe that students' cultures influence their motivation and learning styles. Since most vocational education teachers are white, they may need insight to factors that affect the learning motivation of students who have different ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. With that information, they could adapt their teaching to fit the needs of students.

In Georgia, statewide data indicate that secondary marketing education teachers have a diverse student population that includes American Indians, blacks, Hispanics and whites. About 60 percent of the enrollment is female and almost 30 percent of the student population is disadvantaged. The same or similar conditions could be found in many other states and regions of the country. …

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