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EDUC 537: Negotiating Identities
Transcript of EDUC 537: Negotiating Identities
There have been several incidents of bullying documented, and some students have reported being discriminated against by some of their classmates within these groups Possible Solutions -In order for educators to resolve intracultural conflicts, they must first be aware of their existence and underlying causes (Ogbu & Simons, 1998)
Then, issues of discrimination, negotiating identities, and helping students transition from ELL to mainstream classes can be acknowledged and directly addressed
-There are several ways proposed by Ogbu & Simons (1998) through which this may be achieved Overview of Issue Suggestions from Colleagues -Many adolescent Latino students who have recently immigrated to the U.S. undergo cultural adaptation in adjusting to their surroundings
This process can significantly impact their development of an ethnic identity and their perceived role in the context of dominant society -These students stated that as they have transitioned into mainstream classes and learned more English, they have begun to spend more time socializing with classmates outside of their ethnic group, and less with their Latino peers -Such changes have resulted in a substantial amount of in-group friction and increasing feelings of marginalization for these students
They admit to being accused of 'hating their own culture' and dissociating themselves from their Latino heritage by some of their old classmates and friends from their ethnic groups -Taken together with these students' involvement in the aforementioned peer conflicts, their behaviors may indicate underlying themes of cultural resistance and adaptive responses to perceived threats of ethnic identity loss or replacement
Understanding these motivations may therefore aid in devising appropriate strategies or solutions that would mitigate or eliminate such issues Cultural adaptation may refer to the process and ways in which individuals adopt aspects of the larger society in order to function successfully within that setting -Therefore, as an adaptive response to both external and internal pressures, these immigrant youth in turn pressure their peers to “conform to ethnic group norms…[and]...to be 'more Latino' ” (French & Chavez, 2010, p. 425) -Concomitantly, studies have shown that acculturative pressures and in-group discrimination and conflict among adolescent Latino immigrants is furthermore associated with:
higher rates of depression
lowered academic achievement (Altschul, Oyserman, & Bybee, 2008; Berry et al., 2006; French & Chavez, 2010; Phinney, 1990; Rodriguez et al., 2000; Rumbaut, 1994) 1) Build trust By fostering strong student-teacher relationships, teachers can work with students individually to build confidence and trust and promote academic success (Ogbu & Simons, 1998) -Students need to know that they are supported, that their native cultures are valued, and that academic achievement does not equate loss of one's cultural heritage 2) Culturally Responsive Instruction Teachers can recognize and validate their students' ethnic identities through the following examples:
Use of students' L1s or incorporation into instruction (Sumaryono & Ortiz, 2004)
Incorporation of diverse materials into curriculum Allowing students to use their L1 during select activities
Visual displays of multicultural materials that represent students' backgrounds such as texts, pictures, objects, etc. (Sumaryono & Ortiz, 2004)
Providing students opportunities to share their cultural heritage and traditions Creation of "third spaces" where students can negotiate and bridge their understanding between cultural knowledge and formal academic knowledge (Banks & Banks, 2010, p. 48)
Cooperative learning strategies that enables students to work together (Sumaryono & Ortiz, 2004)
Use of multiple types of discourse that can validate students' cultural experiences (Banks & Banks, 2010) 3) Directly Address Issue or Conflict -As stated by Ogbu & Simons (1998), students may not always be aware of their own views towards cultural resistance, or their role in dominant society, though they might be experiencing different forms of internal conflict
Creating opportunities for candid discussion and directly addressing issues may help develop students' ability to critically analyze the situation, as well as their own behaviors This may also create opportunities for students to peer mediate, practice critical thinking skills, and learn effective coping skills that are necessary for functioning successfully in a range of social settings -Initially, immigrant Latino youth may attempt to fit into the majority culture of their school
However, soon after their arrival to the U.S., they may be isolated from the majority population when they are placed in sheltered ELL classes (Ajayi, 2006) -As approximately 70% of ELL students are Latino, this isolation allows students to form a strong sense of Latino identity and an ethnic subculture of which they are the majority (Carhill-Poza, 2011) -When adolescent Latino immigrants begin to transition from ELL to mainstream classes, they often struggle to preserve their Latino cultural identity while adapting to the majority culture and learning English
For many students, they feel they are caught in a cultural dichotomy where they must choose between their native and U.S. culture -Within ethnic groups this may lead to further conflict among peers
Some students may resist forms of cultural adaptation and resent their ethnic peers who adapt to dominant society and socialize with members of other ethnic groups
-This intracultural conflict can therefore result in discrimination, bullying, and/or isolation of students from their own ethnic peer groups (Berry, Phinney, Sam, & Vedder, 2006; French & Chavez, 2010; Rodriguez, Meyers, Morris, & Cardoza, 2000) -When Latino immigrant youths interact with students of other ethnic peer groups, they may begin to feel a stronger sense of self-awareness due to perceived cultural differences
-These interactions can precipitate the need to self-identify as either part of or separated from the majority culture (Ajayi, 2006; Hemmings, 2006; Rumbaut, 1994) -This sense of identity may be challenged when students transition from isolated ELL classes into more direct contact with students from the majority culture in mainstream classes
-They often find that they have:
Fewer opportunities to use their L1
Less time to interact with their ethnic peers
Increased pressure to assimilate (or conform) to the majority society (French & Chavez, 2010; Carhill-Poza, 2011; Phinney et al., 2001) -Cultural or ethnic identity may be defined as an individual’s affiliation with a particular ethnic group based on common or shared attributes
-These attributes can include but are not limited to:
language, traditions, beliefs, behaviors, values, and physical traits
Such constructions are subjective, negotiable, and relative to the context in which they are created (Diaz, 2008; Phinney, 1990; Phinney, Romero, Nava, & Huang, 2001) -Though it was originally thought by sociocultural theorists that as acculturation (or, acquiring aspects of dominant culture) increases and identity is formed, the impact of acculturative stressors or pressures may decrease
-More recent studies, however, have shown this is often the opposite (Rodriguez et al., 2000) -In instances where these students have experienced little to no discrimination from the majority population they are more likely to:
Have positive feelings towards acculturation
Choose to both maintain their cultural identity and seek membership within the dominant culture (Berry et al., 2006; French & Chavez, 2010; Rumbaut, 1994) -However, when there is a marked presence of intercultural differences, increased pressure for conformity to or discrimination by the dominant culture, Latino students are more likely to engage in cultural resistance and in-group conflicts (Berry et al., 2006; French & Chavez, 2010; Rumbaut, 1994; Ogbu & Simons, 1998) -In initiating cultural resistance, Latino students adopt an "oppositional collective identity" (Ogbu & Simons, 1998, p. 175) -As a result, these students who undergo cultural resistance may view school as an institution of the majority culture and oppose any practices they believe might threaten their ethnic identity (Diaz, 2008; Ogbu & Simons, 1998)
For example, they might resist learning English because they believe it is intended to replace their native Spanish (Ajayi, 2006; Diaz, 2008) -In addition, they may discriminate against or initiate confrontations with their Latino peers who:
learn English and/or are academically successful
socialize with other ethnicities
participate in non-Latino customs or habits (French & Chavez, 2010; Rodriguez et al., 2000) -These Latino immigrant youth, though they may form an oppositional culture, may still be unsure of their own roles in the context of the larger society (Diaz, 2008)
-Moreover, they may feel that those who adapt to the majority culture are abandoning their Latino heritage and threatening the solidarity of their peer culture; and correspondingly, their own ethnic identities (Diaz, 2008; Ogbu & Simons, 1998) -As part of this identity, they:
Resist any form of change they consider to be associated with the dominant culture
Emphasize their cultural differences relative to the dominant society
Reject membership of the majority culture (Diaz, 2008; Ogbu & Simons, 1998) -Along the same lines, some of the ELL students who have had an active role in these conflicts have experienced ongoing issues in regards to their academic performance and overall behavior
In numerous instances they have refused to complete their assignments or participate in class, resisted learning English, and been openly defiant to teachers and administrators Moreover, they have made little effort to interact with other peers outside of their social networks when given the opportunity, choosing instead to only associate with their Latino classmates Other ways in which conflicts can directly be addressed include:
Conducting class discussions on social justice and related topics
Regularly incorporating journaling or writing reflection exercises into classroom routines as an outlet for students
Eliciting the help of mentors or other students from the school community who have experience with such issues High Standards -High standards are an effective way to address issues with student participation and academic achievement, particularly for those students who feel marginalized by intracultural conflicts or are unsure of themselves and their place in society
By establishing high standards, teachers communicate to their students that they believe in their intellectual abilities (Ogbu & Simons, 1998) Parent and Community Involvement -As stated in Ogbu & Simons (1998), parental and community involvement is crucial to helping students negotiate identities and succeed in school settings, particularly as they encounter intracultural conflict -Opening lines of communication can help teachers learn about their students so that they may better meet their needs and abilities, while additionally reinforcing support systems at home
-This is especially important in helping students transition and anticipating any potential issues that might occur during the process In describing these findings to my supervisor, she made several observations that could shed some light on possible ways to remedy this issue, or at least provide some insight so that it could be better understood First, after having discussed the existence of intracultural conflicts in our ELL program, she explained how the issues of bullying and student behaviors had been addressed specifically by the administration as disciplinary measures
When students were called in to discuss the reports they had made in regards to being bullied and discriminated against by their peers, they were unwilling to give details and stated that the issues had been resolved; yet the conflicts do not appear to have been resolved
Instead, they appear to have become much more subversive and covert than they were initially -This therefore seems to indicate a greater need for alternative resolution measures other than disciplinary action and intervention by the administration
-Students may have been concerned about revealing issues to authority figures who they have little interaction with on a daily basis;
-Instead, another potential avenue could be one-on-one discussions with individual stakeholders who students have relationships with -Finally, as it was made clear in the findings that many Latino immigrant youth really are to some extent isolated in ELL classes and have little opportunities to interact with others outside of their immediate surroundings, these students would likely benefit from increased interactions with people of different backgrounds
-Such would be possible in creating more inclusive classroom or social settings where ELL students have more opportunities for contact with their U.S. born peers -In conclusion, though this issue concerning intracultural conflicts among adolescent Latino immigrants is not widely known, it is clearly growing in importance as more students are coming into the United States from other countries and the ELL population continues to increase -What makes this issue so unique is how concealed it is among many students' lives, yet it has a significant impact on their academic and personal development
-Ultimately, in many instances how students decide to define themselves and their cultural heritage(s) may inevitably dictate how well they are able to function in a range of settings; and furthermore, how successful they are academically -In this regard, this has significant pedagogical implications because as in-group conflicts are highly nuanced and often go undetected, teachers need to be aware of such influences so that they can better help support their students' emotional and academic growth
-Without doing so, students will continue to encounter difficulties that their teachers will have no frame of reference to resolve
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