Teachers who are not taking a student’s culture into consideration may make statements like “I don’t see color, just children” as a way of saying color is not an issue but what they are indirectly unintentionally saying is that they don’t recognize the children of color’s culture. If teachers pretend not to see student’s racial and ethnic differences, they really do not see the students at all and are limited in their ability to meet their educational needs and all the students in the class will be treated the same. This is one mistake that culturally unaware teachers make. But for teachers who are knowledgeable of the influences that culture has on learning student’s diverse cultural backgrounds are central. We must understand the culture of minority children if we are to gain insight into their learning styles. “Color-blind” teachers equate sameness with equality when they are not equal at all. They do not understand that their perceptions of minority students interfere with their ability to be effective teachers for them.
Let’s use a scenario I read in DreamKeepers by Janice Hale. In a classroom of 30 children a teacher has one student who is visually impaired, one who is wheelchair-bound, one who has limited English proficiency, and one who is intellectually gifted. If the teacher presents identical work in identical ways to all of the students, is she dealing equitably or inequitably with the children?” The notion of sameness only makes sense when all students are exactly the same. Whole class instruction is not necessarily “uniform” at a process level. Equity and fairness are insured not by treating all children identically, but by differentiating among children to provide them the most effective opportunities to learn. Teachers need to present information in a variety of formats (discussion, lecture, questions) so different learners are provided the opportunities to gain access to instruction via their strength. In particular, traditional methods of uniform instruction seem to be ineffective with a student group that is very diverse and with students from different backgrounds and with different approaches to learning. In conclusion, educators are responsible for ensuring that all children receive equal access to education so that they can maximize their potential. The school’s culture, or underlying values, beliefs, rituals, and symbols, should reflect and celebrate the culture of each child represented in the building. This reflection and celebration can be made visible through culturally responsive teaching so that our minority children can achieve their greatest potential?