This is a very important discussion because a deep comprehension of the learning process should provide framework for curriculum and instructional decisions. This is because diversity in middle level schools calls for continual reexamination of educator’s assumptions, expectation, and biases. Therefore, decisions on education must be evaluated for their influence on students learning capability.
Teachers are supposed to have enough information about shared beliefs of people and different styles of learning. This is because; there is a relationship between the environment in which the child is living or originates from and child’s success academically, socially and emotionally.
The context, in which the leaner is in, is known for influencing the motivation behind the middle class student to learn. Context is everything in the material, mental and personal, social, institutional, cultural and historical that influences the meaning, which people make.
The activities which students participate in and the interactions they have with peers, adults, and the physical characteristics of their learning environment all contribute to their motivation to learn and desire to engage. Context consists of cultural artifacts such as language, technologies, social interactions, communication and any other elements in the physical environment that influence learning, meaning making, and cognitive development (Ramirez, 1989).
If a teacher is going to provide successful learning opportunities for the middle class students, he or she must have knowledge of the learner. This is in relation to personal characteristics and the beliefs of people that affect the way they behave.
The middle school learner is a product of nature and nurture. Everyone is born with a tendency to learn in a particular way. Members of the family, what people belief in as well as the entire community influence this. Different researches show that the way of learning is determined by nature as well as nurture.
Type development begins at a very early age and the argument is that type is inborn predisposition just like left or right-handedness. However, the successful development of type can be greatly improved or hindered by the environment. Members of the family should be encouraged to work together in order to help one another. The experiences that children get when they are young determine the styles of learning that they adopt.
The style of learning is developed through the characters that are similar in children, the beliefs in the community where they live and the support they receive as they grow up. The individuality of learners develops well if it is supported by culture so that everyone can accept it. The uniqueness of members of the family should be encouraged so that everybody can trust himself or herself the way they are.
When a person feels that he does not possess the characteristics of a boy, he lacks self-confidence and feels that he does not fit in the society. Every middle school student of every culture, race, religion, socio economic status, deserves an equal opportunity to be successful in school. The instructor needs to know the shared beliefs of students in order to improve the way of learning. Understanding learners’ differences is significant in structuring successful learning methodologies for every student.
Culture and learning style
Researchers have acknowledged classic learning patterns among African Americans, Mexican Americans and Native Americans. The information bring to a close that Mexican Americans view family and personal relationships as imperative and are contented by way of thinking in generalities and patterns (Cox & Ramirez 1981).
For instance, the Mexican Americans are culturally inclined towards associations and concept thinking whereby they are able to think philosophically. Discussions and silent reading will certainly augur well with students from such a background. Such qualities give details why Mexican-American students often seek a special association with a trainer and are further relaxed with extensive concepts than constituent details and specifics.
Research concerning the African-American culture indicates that African American students place a higher value on oral communication, physical activity, and devotion in interpersonal associations (Shade, 1989).
This is because; traditionally African culture entailed passing of messages via oral communication rather than in writing. This implies that students with such a background can understand more from listening than from reading. The behavior is improved through organizing projects that involve all students, discussion groups as well as working in collaboration.
The community of Americans who are Native discriminate other people all over the world in their way of thinking, they belief they are more capable and skilled. The non-native speakers suffer because; they cannot mix freely with the Native Americans or share the same facilities available in the community.
The Native Americans are provided with quality learning facilities; the environment is conducive for learning and is exposed to the modern improved facilities for effective learning. The Americans value freedom, they ask questions where necessary and they are critical thinkers. This makes their learning to be based on research, examinations and their performance in examinations. These patterns are widespread in many American schools.
The following are strategies for teaching in a culturally diverse middle school. The first one is to build relationships with students. During the interview with students who are African Americans, they said the problems they encountered and wanted their teachers to understand them and the way they live outside school as well as enjoy the incentive systems at school. When the teachers think about the life of students, they are able to help them understand what they are taught and use examples that students understand better.
The second one is to facilitate independence in thinking and action. Students are helped to become independent in different ways in order to facilitate their learning. This is done by encouraging them to work in absence of the teacher without instructions to be followed.
When students ask questions, the teacher can encourage independence by responding in a way that lets the student know how to find the answer for him or herself (Gee, 2007). When students evaluate their own work and perform different roles they become independent. This can do well especially in classes where the middle school teacher is having students with an Asian background.
Thirdly, students form study teams that meet outside classroom most of the times. By arranging for times and rooms where groups can meet, you can encourage students to study together. Peer support is an important factor in student persistence in school, but students of color sometimes are left out of informal networks and study groups that help other students succeed. Through studying together, your students can both improve their academic performance and overcome some of the out-of-class segregation common in many campuses.
This is critical because it assists the student to gain self-acceptance as well as appreciate the persons from different background other than theirs. This is because; it is in the middle schools where students gain self-awareness about their cultural, racial and tribal differences. Working in groups, which incorporate culturally diverse students, will help the students to have a positive view of their differences.
The other strategy for the teacher to ensure that the teaching methodologies include different groups is by developing interpersonal relations with the students, which make the teacher approachable. This will make the students who come from backgrounds that value interpersonal relationships to feel incorporated and at the same time be enabled to learn.
In addition, the teacher should develop methodologies, which also encourage competition such as individual tests. This will be useful in assisting students who can do better in competitive environment rather than in a cooperative environment especially if the teacher has students who are of Japanese origin because their culture encourages competitiveness and individual hard work.
Finally, the teacher should provide opportunities for all students to get to know each other. Research shows that both African-American and white students, for example, would like greater interracial contact.
African-American students tend to prefer institutional programs and commitments, while most white students prefer opportunities for individual personal contacts. By doing the activities the teacher will have developed a rapport with the students and offered an environment, which is accommodative to students of different cultural backgrounds.
Diversity is something to be appreciated rather than something to be maligned about. A teacher ensures that students are well prepared to handle different situations.
When the middle school teacher is aware of the diverse needs and how to handle the students as per their backgrounds, the teacher will not only have improved the academic performance of that particular student in class but will also have boosted the esteem of such students into unimaginable levels. It is therefore imperative for the teacher to implement those suggestions not only for the improvement of overall class performance but also for the advancement of the society as a whole.
Cox, B. & Ramirez, M. (1981). Cognitive styles: Implications for multiethnic education in the 80s’. Washington: National Education Association.
Gee, J. (2007). An introduction to discourse analysis: Theory and method. London: Rutledge.
Ramirez, M. (1989). Pluralistic education: A bicognitive-multicultural model. The Clearinghouse Bulletin (3): 4–5.
Shade. (1989). The influence of perceptual development on cognitive style: Cross ethnic comparisons. Early Child Development and Care (51): 137–155.