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Student cultural diversity
on March 29, 2005
In Student cultural diversity: Understanding and meeting the challenge by Eugene Garcia (2002) address the issue of linguistic and cultural diversity among students in American schools. Based on a robust amount of empirical research, the author persuades his readers to adapt new learning strategies to provide English Language Learners (ELL) students with equal educational opportunities, such as understanding the students' cultural and individual development, building partnerships between home and school, and implementing appropriate teaching methods that enhance diversity. To further persuade his readers, Garcia introduces a new perspective on education called a new pedagogy, which allows for respect and integration of the students' values, beliefs, and experiences. He stresses the importance of enhancing learning through providing instruction in a context that is socio-culturally, linguistically, and cognitively meaningful to the learner (p. 19).
The author's ideas and thoughts are well articulated. He doesn't merely offers his opinions and views, but instead, he refers to the findings of many studies in the area of linguistic and cultural diversity. Although his writing style is rather complex at the beginning of the book, as the author incorporates many sociological, psychological, anthropological and cognitive studies to elucidate individual development theories and the many aspects of culture, his writing alters to a simpler form towards the middle of the book. He incorporates studies that more directly pertain to the issue of linguistic and cultural diversity, and therefore are easier to be understood.
Furthermore, the use of tables and real life experiences are most often utilized to bolster the author's effectiveness of presenting information. Characteristics of direct instruction and instructional conversation, or schooling transformation: what is and what ought to be, are presented in a table form which ensures better visual understanding. In addition, the author also includes "becoming a responsive teacher" sections, which incorporate real life experiences of students and teachers in American schools.
Information provided through this book provides immense contributions to educating linguistically and culturally diverse students. It provides educators with teaching strategies that effectively meet the educational needs of these students, such as integrating students' culture in the curriculum or mediating instruction by using the student's native language and English for instruction. Moreover, the author stresses the importance of providing linguistically and culturally diverse students with a learning environment that addresses and enhances their differences. Factors that would contribute to creating such environment include various school practices such having a vision defined by the acceptance and valuing of diversity, treatment of classroom practitioners as fellow professionals in school development decisions, and elimination of policies that apply categories to diverse students that render their educational experiences inferior or limiting for future academic learning (p. 121).
Personally, I have found this book very informative. Garcia not only presents the challenges associated with educating linguistically diverse students, but also offers an array of solutions to effectively meet the educational needs of these students. This book also confirms my beliefs about the American system of education. As the author states: "schools practice a subtractive accumulation, often identified as assimilation, aimed at replacing the old culture with the new" (p.79).