Bridging Cultures in Our Schools: New Approaches That Work. Knowledge Brief
Greenfield, Patricia M.
San Francisco, CA: WestEd
2000, 16 pages
This publication describes how teachers can begin to gain understanding of diverse students and families and their cultural values, behavioral standards, and social ideals. It presents specific examples of cross-cultural conflicts and illustrates strategies for resolving them. Data come from the Bridging Cultures action research project in California. The paper begins by describing a practical framework for understanding cultural differences, which includes the two contrasting value systems of individualism and collectivism. After elaborating on these differing perspectives, the paper presents examples of how some of the conflicts have played out across seven southern California classrooms and discusses strategies for resolving conflicts using the collectivist-individualistic framework. Some of the conflicts include independence versus helpfulness, cognitive versus social development, oral expression versus respect for authority, parents' roles versus teachers' roles, and personal property versus sharing. Easy ways to avoid conflict and promote harmony include making the classroom hospitable, engaging parents as resources, gauging how to support parent involvement, and understanding parents' ways of participating in school decision making. The paper concludes by discussing the issue of tapping community knowledge through ethnographic inquiry. (Contains 28 references.) (SM)