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Going Inward

The Role of Cultural Introspection in College Teaching


Edited By Susan Diana Longerbeam and Alicia Fedelina Chávez

Going Inward is a pragmatic text for faculty in all disciplines who desire to deepen their reflection on teaching. Through the culturally introspective writings of faculty in a variety of academic disciplines, readers will gain a deeper understanding of faculty cultural influences on college teaching and student learning. This book introduces readers to cultural self-reflection as a powerful tool for insight into how our values and beliefs from our cultural and familial upbringing influence our teaching practice. Cultural self-reflection is a process for generating insights and empathy toward serving students from backgrounds and cultures both similar to and different from one’s own. The integrated design of the book’s three parts – cultural introspection, faculty culture and teaching autobiographies, and developing a culturally introspective practice – makes this book helpful to teaching faculty and academic administrators.
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Chapter Two: Place, Tension, Service, Difference, and Strength: How Culture Influences Teaching


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Place, Tension, Service, Difference, AND Strength

How Culture Influences Teaching


As part of our yearlong faculty development project, participants wrote a culture and teaching autobiography. Due to the nature of culture as a complex mix of values, underlying assumptions, beliefs, and behaviors, deep work through cultural introspection is helpful to developing greater consciousness and understanding. This is even more helpful when cultural introspection goes beyond the personal to include analysis of how our cultural worldviews and ways of being manifest in our teaching practice. Further, when we begin to compare and contrast our cultural norms with those of our students, we are able to illuminate both ways we are similar and ways we are different. This assists us to gain deeper understandings and to further recraft our teaching practices with a greater balance across cultural mores. When we begin to incorporate and balance cultural strengths in addition to our own, we are on our way to balancing college teaching across cultural strengths.


Through our work on these culture and teaching autobiographies, we stayed focused on supporting one another through the challenges of writing about our cultures of origin. We encouraged faculty participants to engage in this introspective process with a spirit of exploration and to consider the strengths originating in their cultures. We often reiterated our...

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