Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ways with Ethnography: Teacher Freedom and Community Building

There's quite a bit of rhetoric today surrounding the ideas of "standards" and "back to basics," but much of this rhetoric ignores the fact that teachers in the classroom must somehow connect with their students in such a way that students will continue their learning as a lifelong process.  What we see in Shirley Brice Heath's Ways with Words is that teachers who have been empowered with lessons in ethnography are better able to reflexively adapt their teaching to meet the specific situation of their own students.

In here original Epilogue, Heath sums up the major problem we face when political systems attempt to impose standards from a state or national level without allowing schools to address the local needs of their communities:
Unless the boundaries between classrooms and communities can be broken, and the flow of cultural patterns between them encouraged, the schools will continue to legitimate and reproduce communities of townspeople who control and limit the potential progress of other communities and who themselves remain untouched by other values and ways of life.  (369)
This ongoing legitimation and reinforcement of dominant norms leads to cycle wherein those who suffer within the dominant system themselves become agents of that system, reinforcing their own marginalization.  Unfortunately, there are many, many people (both the beneficiaries of the system and the downtrodden) who do not recognize that they are simply participating in a cultural system, or that there can be different types of approaches toward educating children.  What Heath's work shows, however, is that students already enter their classrooms with a background of culturally-acquired knowledge - by building on this knowledge rather than simply ignoring it, teachers were better able to help their students meet the educational goals of the school while also supporting different approaches to knowledge.  As Heath describes it, teachers are able to "engage students in collecting and analyzing familiar ways of knowing and translating these into scientific or school-accepted labels, concepts, or generalizations" (340).  With activities such as interviewing, scouring recipe books, and collecting life histories (316-19), students are able to complete projects which cultivate essential knowledge-making habits while also developing on themes which have local and personal relevance.

The problem, however, is that teachers often aren't allowed this kind of freedom.  Even when they are, they often aren't equipped with the cultural and linguistic knowledge regarding their students to formulated truly effective interactions.  For example, in one conversation between two girls on a school bus, we see that a school activity designed to teach storytelling might not fit within the patterns of "telling the truth" demanded by families at home ( 294-96).  In looking at preschool students, Heath found that teachers became frustrated by the ways children would follow cultural norms either by attempting to take the floor during story time or or by fighting amongst themselves for toys (280-81).  Addressing the latter example, teachers found that they were able to travel around the community during non-working hours to help parents see how a preschool classroom functions, but these types of extracurricular activities were difficult to sustain and had only limited benefit (281-82).

Although I don't know of "good" ways to implement such a system ("good" being loosely defined as easy enough and cheap enough to be within the confines of current school systems), I think it would beneficial if all teachers were guided through a process of using ethnography in order to better understand why their own students learn and behave in the ways they observe.  By doing this, they can not only better tailor their lesson plans to meet the needs of their students, but they can also find motivating factors which would encourage their students to continue more of a lifelong appreciation of learning by illustrating how and why these specific school-taught skills are helpful in "real life."

For Updates, "Like" me on Facebook!


12Writing: My Creative Writing Website

28 comments:

  1. Thank you! I have to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in penning this site.I really hope to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own website now !
    barbie games| barbiegames| barbie| shooting games| shootinggames| shooting| dora games| doragames| dora
    fighting games| fightinggames| fighting| kissing games| kissinggames| kissing| christmas games| christmasgames| christmas

    ReplyDelete
  2. Truyen ngon tinh hay la the loai truyen tinh cam
    Truyen teen hay la nhung truyen tinh yeu tuoi teen
    Don doc tai trang doc truyen online.

    ReplyDelete

  3. It is a nice reminder that we do it because we love it. Those nice reviews make it all worth it.
    Thank you for helping me make my dream come
    true bythis awesome articles for me and for
    writing books I enjoy reading.
    newyearquoteswishes.com
    read more on prem ratan dhan payo
    www.bigboxofficecollection.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. These kind of articles are always attractive and I am happy to find so many good point here in awriter.org the post, writing is simply great, thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is the game is played so great. Invite you to experience it interesting things there.
    strike force heroes | strike force heroes 4 | slither io
    tank trouble 2 | earn to die | goodgame empire

    You can receive or send emails to friends and colleagues as well as easy access to the application the Microsoft website. Let's create a separate account for her right now.
    hotmail sign in | hotmail login
    sign in to gmail | log in to gmail



    ReplyDelete
  6. Such a very useful article. Very interesting to read this article.I would like to thank you for the efforts you had made for writing this awesome article.

    Discover our website bounty of free online games now!
    Our website has the biggest collection of free online games. Totally new games are added every day!

    age of war 2| gold Miner 2| unfair Mario 2 | cubefield 2 |tanki Online 2

    ReplyDelete
  7. The blog or and best that is extremely useful to keep I can share the ideas. Age Of War 2
    Big Farm | Slitherio | Tank Trouble
    Of the future as this is really what I was looking for, I am very comfortable and pleased to come here. Thank you very much.
    Happy Wheels | Goodgeme Empire | Slither.io


    ReplyDelete
  8. great article, I was very impressed about it, wish you would have stayed next share

    happy wheels | monkey go happy

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for writing such a great post. I really enjoyed reading that content.
    starfall | barney | abcya

    ReplyDelete
  10. This seller is in a class of his own. He delivers consistently high quality back links with exceptionally high DA. 먹튀검증

    ReplyDelete
  11. I think this is one of the most significant information for me. And i’m glad reading your article. But should remark on some general things, The web site style is perfect, the articles is really great  먹튀검증사이트

    ReplyDelete
  12. The post is written in very a good manner and it contains many useful information for me. 메이저놀이터

    ReplyDelete
  13. Nice to be visiting your blog again, it has been months for me. Well this article that i've been waited for so long. I need this article to complete my assignment in the college, and it has same topic with your article. Thanks, great share 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  14. I discovered your this post while hunting down some related data on website search...Its a decent post..keep posting and upgrade the data buy web traffic

    ReplyDelete
  15. Fabulous post, you have denoted out some fantastic points, I likewise think this s a very wonderful website. I will visit again for more quality contents and also, recommend this site to all. Thanks. 먹튀폴리스

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is a fantastic website, thanks for sharing. There's no doubt i would fully rate it after i read what the idea about this article is. You did a nice job 먹튀검증

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great article with excellent idea!Thank you for such a valuable article. I really appreciate for this great information. 스포츠토토

    ReplyDelete
  18. Very useful info. Hope to see more posts soon! 먹튀폴리스

    ReplyDelete
  19. You have performed a great job on this article. It’s very precise and highly qualitative. You have even managed to make it readable and easy to read. You have some real writing talent. Thank you so much. 온라인슬롯

    ReplyDelete
  20. After exploring a few of the blog posts on your web site, I
    really like your way of blogging. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark
    website list and will be checking back soon. Take
    a look at my web site as well and tell me how you feel.
    오피

    ReplyDelete
  21. Its a great pleasure reading your post.Its full of information I am looking for and I love to post a comment that «The content of your post is awesome» Great work. 온라인카지노

    ReplyDelete


  22. 안녕하세요!! 김포 구래동 1인샵 소라원장 인사드려요쾌적한 공간에서 편안하게 쉬어가실 수 있도록 언제나한분한분께 정성과 최선을 다 해 관리해 드리겠습니다 마사지.

    ReplyDelete