We Can't Teach What We Don't Know

We Can't Teach What We Don't Know
White Teachers in Multiracial Schools

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Noelle - Reflection

In what ways have you examined fundamental beliefs about diverse learners with respect to learning and teaching?

I've learned from this book is that there are other opinions then just my own. The school that I work in, although it isn’t a city school, it has a very diverse student body. I can tell you all of my students, and I appreciate each and every one of them, and I see their differences and view them as positive. I teach my students to push themselves and believe in themselves regardless of their race, ethnicity, culture, home life etc. I have a unique view at some of the students in my school because my fiancé is a sheriff for the county that my school is in, he will come home and so will I and sometimes we will share stories of things that went on at work, it saddens me deeply when it’s one of my students families that my fiancé tells me about some domestic situation, horrible living conditions, etc. and then on the same note sometimes it is hard because the students who act out are those who’s parents my fiancé arrests for drug use etc. and I can tell you for sure that it is not just the colored kids parents! So this is where my stereotyping has ended, because I see it with my own two eyes, from more than just people who aren’t white, from more than people who aren’t from my culture! On the other hand I also see with my own eyes in my school that teacher prejudice and inequality does exist and creates a huge disparity in educational quality, only furthering the achievement gap. It is those teachers that I wish I could help, but we are slowly getting there as a society.

How or in what ways have you reframed your perspectives on diversity with the intent to inform future practice?

I have been reframing my own perspectives on diversity ever since I was placed to student teach in the school that I was just talking about that I now work at. So for almost two years now, I grew up in a town two over from the town that I teach in and it is nothing like the town at all. The school that I went to was comprised of mainly white middle to high-class families, so at a young age I was never exposed to diversity. Now that I am having my own child and my fiancé although he is white, grew up in a diverse setting where he was exposed to all of it at a young age. I envy him at times because he accepts people for who they are with out automatically thinking “oh what’s that person doing, they could be up to no good” because of his profession he does know which people are “bad” and “really up to no good” he is a very good people reader and sometimes I wish I had that skill. On the other hand I like my innocence when it comes to diversity because I am learning now in a time where they are attempting to abolish and change peoples/society views. I see people for who they are and who they could be I try to find the “good” in people before, I think they are “bad”. But with my “reframed”/” ”reframing” perspective, since I admit I am not all the way there, I know that I will watch how I say certain things, and approach certain situations. I don’t want to stereotype my students I want to give them all a chance, and teach other colleagues to do the same. If I set a good example it will pay off, like the whole “pay it forward” idea!


Chapter 8

Creative Connector

“There is a personal renewal and hope to be found in the possibility of change and the opportunity to believe and act in new ways.” (p. 139)

I feel that this quote means so much it can be viewed in many ways, not only in multicultural education. Another view is inclusive education, which yes does include multicultural education, but not just that. We as inclusive teachers can find “renewal and hope” in the “change and opportunities” that we give all of our students. We need to remember that we are teachers to all students that every student is an individual, not just those who are academically or physically challenged, those higher achievers, or just the kids that fall in the “normal” category. We can make a difference in the lives of our students no matter where they come from, their background, their race, their ethnicity, etc.

The next reflection I’d like to make is chapter 8 discussion question 2: “For People of Color and White people, what do we need from each other if we are to create spaces of trust and effective collaboration in the service of our students?”

I feel that schools these days are striving to answer this question , they are finding the “trust” that has been gone for so long because of our countries history, it is still so easy for both Whites and Colors to blame and pull the “race card” but it is getting better. Our nation has become very excepting of people of all races, ethnicity, cultures etc, we as a society just need to become more excepting of each other and try to erase/diminish stereotypes, but that is Gary Howard’s place “of vision, healing, and positive change”. For me it isn’t hard to think about collaborating, but for others it may, it’s hard to help people get to a comfortable place of trust and collaboration, and I feel that the way that this book and Gary Howard goes about it towards “White Teachers” is wrong and it makes upset how he views and stereotype people himself!


  1. In what ways have you examined fundamental beliefs about diverse learners with respect to learning and teaching?
The key idea I've learned from this book is that there are other opinions then just my own, and that despite my style of teacher and my focus on urban education and diversity there are many teachers that do operate under the guise of Howard's ideas.  For a long time I was frustrated while reading, saying, this isn't me, I am open I work with diverse students and I can tell you all about each one, they are all my students...and I appreciate them and push them regardless of race.  But after looking closer at the issue I began to see that this isn't always the case, and teacher prejudice and inequality does exist and creates a huge disparity in educational quality, only furthering the achievement gap.

One thing I also learned from this book was to closely examine the terms I use and how I express my beliefs about diversity.  For many years I would refer to myself as colorblind- not meaning it in the way Howard explained it.  I believe that each student is a unique entity with their own ideas, history, experiences and culture.  Their background and race plays a part of this but it doesn't make up their entirety.  I though if I said colorblind i'd be communicating this idea- when in fact the actual term is considered to be offensive as it ignores or turns a blind eye to otherness.

2)  How or in what ways have you reframed your perspectives on diversity with the intent to inform future practice?

In many ways I learned how students culture is a larger aspect of over all performance then I past understood. I considered race and experience when teaching but I was ignorant to the strong impact societal institutions play into creating the achievement gap.  Now with a more informed understanding of the issues that rise in education because of race I feel I can go into schools and the higher echelons of education and seek to being to push progress.

I also explored issues related to NCLB and how the increased testing, pressure and bias of the program does more to leave children behind, then it does help further their education.  While the idea is revolutionary it's implementation needs strong work.

While I'm personally having an internal debate with myself over whether or not I want to go into higher education, policy reform, exc or if I want to be a normal common person with a life I think these are issue that push me into choosing the no life option.  I think that despite the cliche-ness of this I believe that change can happen and that education and begin to implement more progressive and universal policies and I want to be part of this.

While I had many fundamental arguments with Howard, I will say, my admit disagreement helped me form my own opinions and helped me grown in what I believe to be true and right. (also I feel really sick so I hope this makes sense!)

Chapter 8


In all the heated discussion and conversation over this book I figured I would change it up and try to end on a semi-positive note.  As apposed to doing a creative connector, I figured I'd use this last review chapter to sort of do a creative connector of the book in it's entirety and explore the positive aspects of the REACH program founded by Howard.

I think that in terms of the book I really connected with what gary speaks to in this last chapter about the importance of teaching multi-perspectives, histories and better promote a pluralistic history.  I think too often it's African American History, Native American History, History which as Howard puts it is the white history.  I think that while it's essential to include all these perspectives I want to see them integrated into one strong stand out curriculum as opposed to separate entities.  The goal is to teach to the entirety of the human experience, the commonality the difference, the distractions. When we promote multiculturalism the goal, from my perspective is to begin to form an integrated history so that when we teach African American history, it's not just african American month.  The goal is to create a fluency with difference so that it in turn becomes a commonality of all of our daily existence....

Thursday, November 11, 2010


In what ways have you examined the fundamental beliefs about diverse learners with respect to learning and teaching?

I believe that my growth and knowledge as well as my beliefs about diverse learners with respect to learning and teaching is something that will grow and evolve with each event that takes place in class, with students, while reading or during discussions. I think that my fundamental beliefs are sound; I have the background and the knowledge to understand diverse learners and the ways in which they function. I know that I do not know everything, but teaching to learners with diverse needs is something that takes patience, practice and revision. Each student will learn differently in each situation and therefore as teachers we need to be hardworking and vigilant to work towards finding the best practices for our classrooms, as well as our individual students. I also know that these best practices used for diverse learners are in reality interventions that would be positive for a whole class environment as well, therefore making a more rewarding and cohesive classroom environment.

How or in what ways have you reframed your perspectives on diversity with the intent to inform future practice?

I believe that my perspectives on diversity have stayed the same throughout this book which is a positive feeling in my eyes. My undergraduate program used a framework in which social justice was weaved into our everyday thoughts and practices. I do recognize “white privilege” more often after reading Howards book, but I also recognize privileges that everyone takes. I know that I have the ability to help my students grow into great human beings who are residents of this worldwide community, but in the same respect I wonder how much anything will ever truly change. There has always been a scape goat or a group of people that has been beaten and bruised and looked down upon; this has been true since the beginning of time. Is this feeling of being better or entitlement engrained into our DNA, or can we change it one person as a time?