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Why Race and Culture Matter in Schools

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Karen Zimmerman

on 19 August 2014

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Transcript of Why Race and Culture Matter in Schools

"Culture is to people as water is to fish"
Why Does Race and Culture Matter?
Four Agreements
Stay Engaged
Experience discomfort
Speak your truth
Expect/accept non-closure

“..., Race is nothing more than the color of our skin, texture of our hair, and shape, color, and dimension of physical features such as eyes and lips. So much social and political meaning has been attached to thee physical determinations of race, however, that the simplicity has given way to a complex phenomenon in this country over the past four centuries.” Glen Singleton & Curtis Linton
On the green post it write your definition of culture.

On the orange post-it write your definition of race.

When you're done, post your definitions on the wall.
Create A Working Definition
of Race and Culture
Post your definitions on the wall and do a gallery walk

Culture refers to the ways of living; shared behaviors, beliefs, customs, values, and ways of knowing that guide groups of people in their daily life and are transmitted from one generation to the next.

Culture affects how people learn, remember, reason, solve problems, and communicate; thus, culture is part and parcel of students’ intellectual and social development. Understanding how aspects of culture can vary sheds light on variation in how students learn.
Windows and Mirrors
SPPS OEL/ECSE Professional Development Day
August 27, 2014

1. How will you change or keep your definition based on what you saw?

2. Which was easier to define: race or culture? Why?

Culture describes how we live
Race is how we look.

The Iceberg Model of Culture

Surface-Culture Rules Example
“Everybody does it differently”

It is the third Thursday in November.
What are you going to eat?

In the United States, that date is Thanksgiving. Depending on your family, you may be eating turkey, ham, or nothing special at all. Even if you don’t celebrate, you may wish somebody “Happy Thanksgiving”.

It is summer and your air conditioning has broken. Your family is lounging around the house and your children are playing in the family room. It is getting quite hot.
How do you cool off?

In the United States, you don’t take your clothing off around your children. It would be considered highly offensive for a father to walk around home completely naked, no matter how hot.

Deep Culture

Unconscious Rules Example

“You just don’t DO that!”

The things that don’t get talked about, and often times aren’t even realized.


Notions of Modesty * Concept of Beauty * Courtship Practices * Relationships to Animals * Notions of Leadership * Tempo of Work * Concepts of Food * Ideals of Childrearing * Theory of Disease * Social Interaction Rate * Nature of Friendships * Tone of Voice * Attitudes Towards Elders * Concept of Cleanliness * Notions of Adolescence * Patterns of Group Decision-Making * Definition of Insanity * Preference for Competition or Cooperation * Tolerance of Physical Pain * Concept of “self” * Concept of Past and Future * Definition of Obscenity * Attitudes toward Dependents * Problem-Solving Roles in Relation to Age, Sex, Class, Occupation, Kinship, and so forth

Deep Culture

Unconscious Rules
Far Below Surface
Emotional Load: INTENSE

“Everybody does it differently”

Above the Surface
Emotional Load: Relatively Low

Food * Dress * Music * Visual Arts * Drama * Crafts * Dance * Literature * Language * Celebrations * Games

The kind of VISUAL elements of culture that are easily identifiable, easily shared, and easily accessed.

You are in a major chain grocery store (Target, Kmart, etc), standing in line at the checkout.
How do you know what to pay for your items?

In that culture - we don’t haggle over low-cost, pre-priced items. You just pay as is marked.


“What are you DOING?”

Unspoken Rules Example

Deep Culture

Elements of culture that are perhaps not as easily pointed out, more ingrained into society.

“What are you DOING?”

Courtesy * Contextual Conversational Patterns * Concept of Time * Personal Space * Rules of Conduct * Facial Expressions * Non-Verbal Communication * Body Language * Touching * Eye-Contact * Patterns of Handling Emotions

Deep Culture

Unspoken Rules
Just Below the Surface
Emotional Load: High

Deep Culture

Unconscious Rules
Far Below Surface
Emotional Load: INTENSE

Unspoken Rules
Just Below the Surface
Emotional Load: High

Above the Surface
Emotional Load: Relatively Low

Surface Culture
Surface Culture
“You just don’t DO that!”

Discuss this at your table.
Look at the cards on the table to guide your discussion
What did you discover?

“How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?”

Does anybody really know what time it is?
Recognizing whether you are dealing with a polychronic or monochronic person and the differences in how time and relationships are valued is crucial to being able to communicate effectively with others.

Cultural Adaptations
Extremely time sensitive
Task oriented
Concentrate on the task at hand
Adhere religiously to plans
Experience time in 5 minute increments

5 minutes late- you are early
10 minutes late- you are still early
15 minutes late- something must have come up
5 minutes late- apology is expected
10 minutes late- apology with reason
15 minutes late- apology with extremely good reason
Meeting starts at….
Time is relative
Relationship oriented
Highly distractible- subject to interruptions
Changes plans often and easily
Experience time in 15 minute increments

You are scheduled for a 4pm meeting with a friend or co-worker directly after school.

Typically, when would you arrive?

Turn & Talk
• What are culturally responsive ways to respond to someone who has a different concept of time than you?

• How do you adapt and when do you adapt?

• To what degree do you still hold to your family of origin values and beliefs regarding time and how have your values/ beliefs changed based on your life experiences?

Discuss at your table
We Teach Who We Are
“Teaching, like any truly human activity, emerges from one’s inwardness, for better or worse. As I teach, I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together. The entanglements I experience in the classroom are often no more or less than the convolutions of my inner life. Viewed from this angle, teaching holds a mirror to the soul. If I am willing to look in that mirror and not run from what I see, I have a chance to gain self-knowledge –and knowing myself is as crucial to good teaching as knowing my students and my subject…In fact, knowing my students and my subject depends heavily on self-knowledge. When I do not know myself, I cannot know who my students are. I will see them through a glass darkly, in the shadows of my own unexamined life – and when I cannot see them clearly, I cannot teach them well."

-Parker Palmer
Writing Prompts
• What do you find in the picture that serves as a mirror of your own life, reflecting something familiar that you can easily recognize?

• What do you find in the picture that serves as a window onto another culture or way of living, something that is strange and unfamiliar to you?

"The purpose of education
is to turn mirrors into windows."

Discuss at your table

What resonated with you?

What are you thinking, feeling & believing after watching this video?

Share these notes with the peeps at your table.

Come up with three ‘take-aways’ and be ready to share with the large group.

1. Pair/share with someone at your table

2. Share with the table group.
Was it difficult for you to find mirrors?

What did you learn from this process?
take a break!

Mirrors & Windows
Sidney J. Harris
Mirrors & Windows
take a break!
The End
close in on
focus in on more

What are you feeling, thinking and believing after you experienced Zoom?

What will you take away with you;
and how will you honor the stories that
come through your school community?
Concepts of Time
The Iceberg Model of Culture

PINK Survey
5 minutes
Full transcript