Monday, May 18, 2009

Are we there yet?

Humans sure can be funny people.

I read an article recently for another class, "Voices of the Teenage Diasporas," by Lee Gunderson. One of the things the author observed was that many immigrant students and their parents were very uneasy about their new schools in Canada. Were they uneasy because the kids were facing too great a challenge with attending English-only schools? No. Were they uneasy because the teachers were unable to engage the students in learning? No. Were they uneasy because the course work wasn't sufficiently rigourous? No.

Many parents and students agreed that the course work in the new schools was considerably beyond what they had been studying at their old schools. Many parents and students also agreed that the students were learning more effectively and in more depth than they had done previously.

Despite those observations, many of them also felt the students were being cheated out of a quality education. The "problem" they saw with the new schools was that the teachers wouldn't tell the students what to learn. There were no worksheets sent home at the end of the day, and worst of all, in their eyes, was that there was no memorizing.

So, even when it works, sometimes it's not working. Our cultural backgrounds are the basis for many of our perceptions, and our perceptions are largely responsible for our reality. Cross cultural understanding can be an invaluable tool - whoever dreamed there were so many ways to look at the world?

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