The Role of Cultural Introspection in College Teaching
Edited By Susan Diana Longerbeam and Alicia Fedelina Chávez
Chapter Twenty: Pros and Cons of a Cosmopolitan Classroom
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Pros AND Cons OF A Cosmopolitan Classroom
K. MARIA D. LANE
Geography University of New Mexico
Because I teach in a university with high percentages of non-white and minority students, there is more attention to culture and diversity on my campus than I have encountered anywhere else during my academic career. Yet in almost a decade of training on how to recognize and respond to the cultural identities that students bring to the classroom, I never considered what cultural identities I myself bring to the classroom. Participation in a yearlong faculty institute on this topic has prompted me to account for the cultural values that underlie my behaviors as an educator and, in so doing, to face difficult questions. What does it mean if some of my value-laden classroom behaviors turn out to have negative impacts on students? Does it mean that my values are inconsistent with my work as an educator? Does it mean that my values are wrong? How can I do a better job of accounting for the inevitable cultural messiness that accompanies the process of education, mitigating potentially negative effects where possible? This essay falls short of answering these questions, but it provides a basis for long-overdue reflection.
My cultural identity is based primarily in the traditions and practices of my nuclear family, in which my parents synthesized their different cultural upbringings to forge a set...
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