Athabaskan-English Interethnic Communication Term Paper

Pages: 7 (1804 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Race

¶ … Athabaskan-English Interethnic Communication," the author provides a comparative analysis of communication between and among Athabaskans and English people. The discussion centers on four areas of study regarding communication between the two ethnic groups, that is, presentation of talk, distribution of talk, information structure, and content organization. In the presentation of the self during communication between Athabaskans and English, it becomes evident that Athabaskans communicate easier when they are interacting with people whom they know than strangers. The English, meanwhile, find it easier to communicate with all kinds of people, rationalizing that they are able to get to know someone better by conversing with them. In analyzing the distribution of talk, it was found that English communicators talk more often the Athabaskans and usually delegate the conversation between them (English and Athabaskans). Information structure is also found to be more complex among Athabaskan communicators than the English, owing to the fact that the former takes more time to think about what and why they communicate rather than simply accomplishing the act of communicating (which is characteristic of English communicators). Lastly, the content organization difference between the English and Athabaskans reflect that the latter communicate mainly with implicit meanings, due to the complexity of their language and the thought given to these symbols of communication. From these descriptions of ways of communicating between Athabaskans and English people, it becomes evident that ethnic differences indeed influence the way the two groups communicate between each other and among other members of their respective ethnic groups. The article, in effect, provides a dynamic perspective on how language and communication are utilized to create impressions and identities about various ethnic communities.

Luis Moll and Norma Gonzalez' article entitled "Learning about culture from household research" looks into the importance of qualitative forms of research in identifying problems and formulating solutions to student-related problems that teachers encounter in the formal school setting. These 'problems' are actually activities that needed to be identified in order to enhance students' learning by providing knowledge that are relevant to their life experiences, specifically, experiences derived from their households. Indeed, the efficacy of such method is demonstrated through survey interviews, wherein teachers get to know their students' families and the culture and environment they engage with. Through interviews, they were able to generate information about the parents' sentiments about their children's education, which provides teachers with alternative avenues in determining how students can be best motivated through this information from household research. Thus, communication between teachers and parents creates "knowledge and skills to deal with a changing reality." In effect, there results an understanding of the students' daily progress in learning, and knowledge of a student's family background helps teachers assess how to deal with the student's performance at school. The article brings into lucidity how qualitative research allows teachers to act as both researchers and mediators between the student's reality at home and in school. Indeed, as the article recommends, the research conducted poses a potential avenue to create a community wherein teachers and parents work together to reconcile differences that students may face when they are at home and in school, making their development towards learning continuous and complementary to each other -- that is, learning continues at home after school, and vice versa.

In "Distorting Latino history: The California textbook controversy," offers a critique of history textbooks published by Houghton Mifflin, wherein its attempt to show objectivity in discussing multiculturalism in American history had evidently failed with the proliferation of errors that inherently contradicts its claim to being multicultural, when in fact, these textbooks are actually prejudiced against some race groups living in America. The author of the critique, Elizabeth Martinez, cites four flaws within the Houghton Mifflin history textbooks, which include, among others, the misrepresentation of Latinos in a textbook for a fourth-grade book, illustrating them as members of the elite class, and never depicting them as lower-class farmers, which was the true reality of Latinos during the early 20th century. Another critique of these history textbooks is the lack of objective representation of various races inhabiting America, which was reflected in history books for kindergarten. This flaw, Martinez claims, is an illustration of the dominance of Eurocentric thinking, which hardly speaks for Houghton Mifflin's attempt to provide a fair assessment and description of early American history, as well as its development to being a "salad bowl" country. Martinez's assessment of Houghton Mifflin's history textbooks provides a new avenue for 'uncovering' the truth about various cultures' histories in America. The critique is vital for students to be informed about how seemingly fair and rigorously documented narrations of history can also be flawed, and provide inaccurate or unfair descriptions of underrepresented cultures, races, and communities in America, wherein the tradition of prejudice and discrimination continue to dominate contemporary society.

Louise Derman-Sparks' "How well are we nurturing racial and ethnic diversity?" puts into question the strategies and methods adopted by educational institutions in allowing students to learn about cultures other than the white American society, specifically the colored races, which include people coming from Asian and African heritage. She conceptualizes three educational curriculums that reflect the various representations that academic institutions adopt in promoting or rejecting the program of increasing students' awareness in multiculturalism: the dominant culture curriculum, "color-denial" curriculum, and "tourist-multicultural" curriculum.

In the dominant culture curriculum, students do not learn and appreciate multiculturalism, for the institution does not promote learning activities that helps increase their awareness of other cultures extant in American society. Under this curriculum, students are only aware of the white American culture, which may be construed as a type of learning that is entirely Eurocentric. The "color-denial" curriculum, meanwhile, is an educational strategy that acknowledges multiculturalism by 'denying' that there exists any difference among people from various races and cultures. This kind of approach is not appropriate in creating awareness in multiculturalism, simply because educational materials and methods adopted in these institutions are dominantly centered on white American culture; thus, denying the presence of diverse cultures in the classroom is one way of reinforcing the dominant culture curriculum, resulting to the students' ignorance of cultures of other people. Lastly, the tourist-multicultural curriculum, while it acknowledges multiculturalism in a dominantly white American society, provides a shallow depiction of these cultures, since information and education about them depict them according to stereotypes perpetuated throughout history in American society. This curriculum remains ineffective because it only depicts a shallow representation of other cultures, and not a deeper understanding of the values, attitudes, and behavior of people of various cultures and races.

Teaching white students about racism" is a critical discussion and analysis of Janet Helms' proposed model of white racial identity development (or racial identity development theory), which looks into the development of "belief systems...in reaction to perceived differential racial-group membership." Authored by Beverly Daniel Tatum, the article includes a discussion of Helms' six-stage racial identity development, which are enumerated as follows: contact stage, disintegration stage, reintegration stage, pseudo-independent stage, immersion/emersion, and autonomy stage. Furthering Helms' theory to understand racial identity development, Tatum also discusses three models of whiteness, which are (1) actively racist white supremacist, (2) "what whiteness?" view, and (3) "guilty white" model.

All of these models and stages in racial identity development provide insightful information about how educators can deal with their students' responses to issues of racial prejudice and discrimination. Understanding of each whiteness model allows better assessment of what educational strategy should be adopted in order to inculcate among students, gradually, awareness of racism and its detrimental effects, as well as tolerance for the difference of other people (i.e., people of other races and cultures). Apart from adopting educational strategies, Helms' stages of racial identity development reflects the fact that more than genetic differences, social environmental influence plays a vital role in perpetuating prejudice or tolerance and acknowledgment of racial or cultural differences among people in American society.

Diversity vs. white privilege," an interview by Christine Sleeter, is a discussion that centers on two important points: institutional racism and education as a "struggle against white racism." Sleeter, in discussing institutional racism, posits that more than psychological differences in perceiving racism in society, people must also be aware of the social influences that lead to the development and cultivation of racism in American society. Manifestations of the social perspective in studying racism in America is by looking into early American history to determine how racism is perpetuated, and link this information from the current situation of racism in contemporary American society. Understanding the socio-historical events and conditions that happened in American society will result to a wider perspective of how multiculturalism or tolerance to differences can actually be achieved the society.

To further Sleeter's discussion about institutional racism, she also suggests that educational institutional plays a potential role to educate students about awareness in multiculturalism, and, in effect, generate understanding among students on how institutional racism operates and how this phenomenon is a cause for detriment in American society. Thus, educating individuals about… [END OF PREVIEW]

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