A review of the paper: Improving Schooling for Cultural Minorities: The Right Teaching Styles Can Make a Big Difference, would be remiss without quoting Geoffrey D. Borman and Laura T. Rachuba of Johns Hopkins University. To quote: “Every child has the capacity to succeed in school and in life. Yet far too many children, especially those from poor and minority families, are placed at risk by school practices that are based on a sorting paradigm in which some students receive high-expectations instruction while the rest are relegated to lower quality education and lower quality futures. The sorting perspective must be replaced by a “talent development” model that asserts that all children are capable of succeeding in a rich and demanding curriculum with appropriate assistance and support.”
The current article being reviewed does not contradict the assertion that minority students receive a poorer education than non-minority students. However, the meaning behind “poorer education” is elucidated somewhat differently. A poor education according to Morgan, is the lack of consideration of teachers and school administrators to perceive and change the method of education that each specific student needs and requires in order to fully develop his or her talents. For example, low self-esteem or cultural differences between students can impact their learning abilities. Different parenting styles can affect the way students learn as well.
For instance, African Americans students tend to be field-dependent: they prefer working together. In contrast, Anglo-American students, who tend to be field-independent, prefer to work alone.
Teachers may believe that treating all students the same way avoids discriminating against any group, but that practice in itself is discriminatory.
This attitude is extremely difficult to replicate in reality according to Morgan. True, requiring all students to follow one style of teaching will favor one group over the other, but on the flip side, the sheer size of cultural diversity in this country makes it difficult for educators to be culturally responsive. However, knowledge of the differences in cultures can certainly add to the educational value of the classroom.
In addition to being culturally receptive to the particular groups in a classroom, each group also needs to learn and develop the skills and values they lack. Students definitely benefit from exposure to other cultures and the variety of value systems and ways of learning. Even so, their school experiences will likely turn negative if they are constantly overwhelmed by those values and teaching methods. There needs to be a balance between the two.