Sunday, October 2, 2011

Diversity, Learning Style and Culture

Annotation by Cori Brooks

Burke Guild, P. (2001). Diversity, Learning Style and Culture. Informally published manuscript, New Horizons for Learning, Johns Hopkins University School of Education, Retrieved from Styles/diversity.html

This article tackles the imbalance between “uniformity and diversity”.  In other words, what should be the same in schools and what should be differentiated for learners.  It also discusses how family dynamics and culture play a part in need for differentiation.   Learning styles and learning differences don’t fit a “single mold” when it comes to strategies for learning.

Burke Guild also highlights the negative effects of uniformity in regards to teachers.  She writes that, in a culture of uniformity, competition instead of collaboration is created.  This is especially true when teachers are being assessed in the same ways yet teach in different ways.  She says that, for students as well as teachers, the best of many approaches benefits the most amount of learners.

She talks about four basic styles in which people interact/react differently to the world around us:  Cognitive, conceptual, affect, and behavior.  In short, “people differ in the ways they perceive, think, feel, and behave.” The article explains these differing learning styles in depth.

Burke Guild goes more in depth on culture and diversity for learners, as well.  She says that we need to know how to question culture and its effects on the individual learner without “stereotyping “ or making “naïve inferences” about individuals or small groups within a specific culture.

“A deep understanding of both culture and learning style differences is important for all educators, though the subject must be addressed carefully”

She discusses the Nature vs. Nurture theory and says that teachers must know the learners they are working with.   They must know the cultures of their students and understand their learning differences.  She highlights that students are both products of “innate predispositions” and of outside/external influences.

She also discusses teachers who bring their own background and culture to the classroom.  She writes that one should be aware of a teacher’s culture and students culture.  Teachers should not put too much emphasis on their own background but it shouldn’t be ignored either.

“Teachers of all cultural backgrounds and style will have to work conscientiously to provide equity for students as classrooms increasingly reflect the diversity of our society”.

The last topic Burke Guild discusses is how to apply knowledge of differences in style and culture in the classroom.  She states that awareness is the first application.  She writes that one must accept that people are different and learn in different ways.  To truly accommodate the differences in the classroom takes “a commitment to the belief that all students can be successful learners.

She concludes with the thought that educators need to work together to create and implement curricula for all learning styles and that us as educators need to keep in mind that techniques applied in class may not work for all students learning needs. 

1 comment:

Bobby said...

I was struck by this quote: " a culture of uniformity, competition instead of collaboration is created." I feel so lucky to work at a school where we are encouraged to pursue our unique passions and interests in ways that connect with students. Then, we are further prompted to share our findings with our colleagues. I think, in this way, we avoid the dilemma of competition as a result of uniformity. This kind of competition doesn't seem healthy for a school - especially the students. If teachers are competing, do the needs of students begin to take second place to the teachers' personal success.

Cori, was this article useful and unbiased? What are your thoughts on the author's findings?

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