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Chapter 5

PSYC 3800 Chapter 5: Chapter 5 – Culture and Diversity

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University of Guelph
PSYC 3800
Jen Lasenby- Lessard

Chapter 5 – Culture and Diversity Today’s Diverse Classrooms Culture and Group Membership Culture – the knowledge, rules, traditions, attitudes and values that guide the behaviour of a group of people and allow them to solve the problems of living in their environment - the group (which can be defined along regional, ethnic, religious, racial, gender, social class, or other lines) creates the culture - people are members of groups, not members of cultures - Ricardo Garcia compares culture to an iceberg  1/3 can be seen (costumes, marriage traditions) and the rest are unknown (implicit, unstated, even unconscious biases and beliefs) - some psychologists suggest that culture defines intelligence (manipulating words and numbers in important in Western societies, are seen as indicators of intelligence) Cautions about Interpreting Cultural Differences - remember there are many variables within culture, and that group membership is not destiny (cannot make assumptions about a person because they belong to a certain cultural group) Cultural Conflicts and Compatibilities - conflicts can happen when the values and competencies of the dominant, mainstream culture are used to determine what is considered “normal” or appropriate behaviour in schools - when Chinese Canadian, Indo-Canada and European Canadian parents were asked how they were promoting reading and writing development of their children, the difference among groups was the relative emphasis placed on directly teaching literacy skills versus involving children in naturally occurring literacy events  shows that all cultural differences lead to clashes in school Dangers in Stereotyping - for example, Asian students are sometimes labeled as “model minorities”  do not develop the ability to assert and express themselves verbally and are channeled in disproportionate numbers into the technical/scientific fields Economic and Social Class Differences Social Class and SES - some people show classism, believing they are better than members of a lower social class and avoiding association with them - sociologists and psychologists combine variation in wealth, power, control over resources and prestige called socioeconomic status (SES) Poverty and School Achievement - rate of child poverty has declined slightly over the past two decades  12% to 9.5% - still more than 630,000 children in Canada in poverty and this statistic does not reflect the magnitude of the problem for particular groups - high SES students of all ethnic groups show higher average levels of achievement and stay in school longer than low SES students - length of time spent in poverty affects their achievements Health, Environment, and Stress - poor/adolescent mothers are more likely to have premature babies, which is associated with many cognitive and learning problems - more likely to be around legal and illegal drugs - higher levels of stress for children in poverty  interferes with blood flow in the brain, development of synaptic connections, depletes tryptophan which calms impulsive behaviour Low Expectations – Low Self-Esteem - low SES children may wear old clothes, be less familiar with books and school activities  students and teachers assume they are not bright, don’t call on them during class, etc. - low expectations and low quality of education lead the child to believe they are helpless and they cannot succeed at school Peer Influences and Resistance Cultures - low SES students may become part of a resistance culture  making it in school means selling out and trying to act “middle class” - they must reject behaviour that would make them successful in school in order to maintain their identity - not true for all students – many are resilient to this culture Home Environment and Resources - families in poverty seldom have access to high-quality preschool care for their children, which would enhance their child’s cognitive and social development - study showed that lack of cognitive stimulation in the home accounted for one-third to one-half of the disadvantages in verbal, reading, and math skills of poor children Summer Setbacks - evidence throughout last decade shows that students in poverty begin school about 6 months behind in reading compared to students from wealthier homes - the difference between groups grows to almost 3 years by grade 6 - summer vacation creates a 3 month reading gap for these children  children in poverty do not have as much access to books, especially during the summer Tracking Poor Teaching - many low SES students experience tracking – assignment to difference classes and academic experiences based on achievement - even if they are not tracked, they are more likely to attend schools with inadequate resources and less-effective teachers Ethnicity and Race Differences in Teaching and Learning Immigrants – people who voluntarily leave their country to become permanent residents in a new place Refugees – a special group of immigrants who also relocate voluntarily, but who are fleeing their home country because it is not safe - some educators suggested that immigrants, students from visible minority groups, and poor students had problems because they were “culturally disadvantaged” Cultural deficit model – a model that explain the school achievement problems of ethnic minority students by assuming that their culture is inadequate and does not prepare them to succeed in school - educational psychologists believe that not culture is deficient; rather, there may be incompatibilities between the student’s home culture and the expectations of the school melting pot – a metaphor for the absorption and assimilation of immigrants into the mainstream of society so that ethnic differences vanish Terms: Ethnicity & Race Ethnicity – a cultural heritage shared by a group of people Race – a group of people who share common biological traits that are seen as self-defining by the people of the group Minority group – a group of people who have been socially disadvantaged – not always a minority in actual numbers Ethnic and Racial Differences in School Achievement - major concern in schools is that some ethnic groups consistently achieve below the average for all students - growing up in a low SES environment has the biggest impact on achievement at school, no matter what the race or ethnicity of the child is The Legacy of Discrimination - Linda Brown situation - often, minority-group students are re-segregated in low-ability tracks even in integrated schools Reaching Every Student: Awakening the Spirit Through Language Gwen Point situation What is Prejudice? Prejudice – prejudgment, or irrational generalization about an entire category of people - can be positive or negative (usually negative) The Development of Prejudice - one source of prejudice is the human tendency to divide the social world into two categories – “us” and “them”  the out group is inferior and they are all similar to each other - emotions play a part  looking for someone to blame when something goes wrong. Eg. 9/11 in the US - prejudice is a set of cultural values  children learn about valued traits and characteristics from the world around them - prejudice is difficult to combat because it can be part of our thinking (schemas) Continuing Discrimination Discrimination – treating particular categories of people unfairly - minorities are less likely to be in the House of Representatives, the Senate, have a Ph.D., and pursue math and science - if they do become scientists or engineers, they make less money (along with women) - some parents may teach their children to notice and resist possible discrimination - teachers may unintentionally offend these families if they are not sensitive to possible messages of discrimination Stereotype Threat Stereotype threat – the extra emotional and cognitive burden that one’s performance in an academic situation might confirm a stereotype that others hold - when stereotyped individuals are in situations where the stereotype applies, they bear an extra emotional and cognitive burden, even if they don’t believe the stereotype Short-Term Effects: Test Performance - minority group study  verbal test - when test was presented as diagnostic of verbal ability, the African American students solved about half as many problems as the white students. In the non-threat situation, the two groups solved about the same number of problems - all groups, not just minorities, can be susceptible to stereotype threat - why does this affect test performance?  anxiety, threat reduces working memory capacity and decreases interest and engagement in the task Long-Term Effects - separate their self-esteem from their academic achievement “school is for losers” Combatting Stereotype Threat - believing that intelligence can be improved might inoculate students against stereotype threat Language Differences in the Classroom Bilingualism Additive bilingualism – learning more languages in addition to your first language (more likely to do this if the family and
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