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Promoting Bilingualism and Multiculturalism Through Powerful Learning Communities Sonia Nieto Loyola Marymount University February 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Promoting Bilingualism and Multiculturalism Through Powerful Learning Communities Sonia Nieto Loyola Marymount University February 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Promoting Bilingualism and Multiculturalism Through Powerful Learning Communities Sonia Nieto Loyola Marymount University February 2009

2 Framework for understanding quality education for linguistic minority students Sociopolitical context of schools and society (institutional/ ideological) Comprehensive school reform (collective) Personal values and commitments (individual)

3 Sociopolitical context [ who has power? How it is used? Who benefits? Who loses?] Societal level: –Who counts? Who has access to education? health care? employment? housing? Who can speak their native language in the community? at work? –What counts? Whose language is “standard”? Whose lifestyle is “normal”? School level: –How do school policies and practices benefit some students over others? (curriculum, pedagogy, disciplinary policies, hiring practices, parent outreach, etc.) –Ex, Curriculum: Whose knowledge counts? What knowledge does the curriculum reflect? Whose perspective is represented? Who benefits? Who loses?

4 Access Equity Quality EDUCATION for linguistic minority students =

5 Asking “profoundly multicultural questions” Who’s taking calculus? physics? Are there enough labs for all students? Is the bilingual (ESL, ELL, or special education) program in the basement? (hall closet?under the stairway? next to the boiler?) What are our children worth? Who’s teaching the children? Asking “profoundly multicultural questions”:

6 Seven Basic Characteristics of Multicultural Education Anti-racist/anti-bias education Basic education Important for all students/people Pervasive A process Education for social justice Critical pedagogy

7 Anti-racist, anti-bias education Inclusive of biases other than racial (gender, language, social class, sexual orientation, etc.) Not simply celebratory Doesn’t automatically “take care” of racism

8 Anti-racist, anti-bias education Pays attention to how some students benefit over others in school policies and practices Welcomes “dangerous discourse” Teaches young people skills in combating bias Confronts racism and other biases directly through content, approaches, and pedagogy:

9 Basic Education As necessary as reading, writing, arithmetic, and computer literacy Part of the core curriculum A more representative, more truthful canon Preparation for living in an increasingly diverse, complex, and interconnected world

10 Important for all students Not just for “urban,” “minority,” “at risk,” “disadvantaged” students All students have been miseducated, although in different ways

11 Pervasive oNot a specific subject matter, unit, class, or teacher oNot just ethnic tidbits, holidays, festivals, or fairs A philosophy; a way of thinking about the world

12 Pervasive: Permeates everything oCurriculum oPedagogical approaches oSorting practices oStaff diversity oReading materials oSchool traditions and rituals oAssembly programs oLetters sent home oBulletin boards oOutreach to homes and community at large oAthletic programs oCafeteria food

13 Education for social justice oRecognizes the injustice and inequality in the world oPrepares students to be citizens in a multicultural and democratic society oFocuses on the role that students and teachers can play in turning injustice into justice oPuts learning into action oIs democracy at its best: messy, complicated, and sometimes full of conflict

14 A Process Beyond curriculum and materials, textbooks and units Dynamic, ongoing, ever-changing Involves intangibles o Relationships o Communication o Learning preferences

15 Critical pedagogy oRecognizes that knowledge is neither neutral nor apolitical and that every educational decision is a political decision oTeaches students to question, explore, and critique oHelps teachers and students understand different perspectives oHelps students and teachers move beyond their partial (and therefore) limited experiences oNot about “political correctness,” but about affirmation and respect for all students of all backgrounds

16 promoting bilingualism and multiculturalism Teaching as solidarity Teaching as advocacy Teaching as sociocultural mediation Teaching as political work

17 Teaching as Solidarity Mary Cowhey At my undergraduate college, I was in the majority. That was mostly who was in the program: White women who were native speakers of English. But in the BEM Summer Program, out of 30 students, there were a handful of native English speakers…

18 Coming out of the closet as a Spanish speaker In my work, I often act as a bridge between different cultures. Part of my evolution as a teacher has been in self defense: I have learned to make my life easier by making life easier for my students; but another, greater part of my experience has been a deep curiosity and yearning to understand the lives of my students. In my struggle to understand, I have learned not only a great deal about my students, but also about myself… Teaching as Solidarity Bill Dunn

19 Teaching as Advocacy Ambrizeth lima Teaching is about power. That is why it must also be about social justice. I teach because I believe that young people have rights, including the right to their identities and their languages… This has meant that I’ve had to engage in many struggles to retain bilingual education {a right that was eradicated in 2002 when the voters of Massachusetts supported the elimination of bilingual education through a ballot initiative)…

20 Teaching as Sociocultural mediation Mary Ginley I'm a White, middle-class woman who grew up in a White, middle- class neighborhood and went to a White middle-class college. I know if I was really going to teach today’s kids, I had a lot to learn…

21 Teaching as Political work Diana Caballero : When I started teaching over 35 years ago in a second grade classroom of a New York City public school, I was motivated by a passionate belief in equality and social change. My commitment to educational change stemmed from my personal background as a working-class Puerto Rican growing up in the South Bronx in the 1950s. “Teaching is always political” (Paulo Freire)

22 LESSONS LEARNED From these teachers and from other research Diversity is a resource, not a problem Students with previous schooling need more than language instruction Students do not need to be separated from same-language peers to develop English language skills Parents and community members need to be welcomed and involved in the education of their children Teachers need to confront their unexamined assumptions to understand how racism and other biases operate in schools and influence both their teaching and their students’ learning Teachers can - and should - have high academic standards while at the same time affirming students’ identities Students are often our best teachers

23 Learning from students Only as learners recognize themselves democratically and see that their right to say “I be” is respected, will they become able to learn the dominant grammatical reasons why they should say “I am.” Paulo Freire, Teachers as Cultural Workers: Letters to Those Who Dare Teach, 1998

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