Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Back to the (mini) grind

So school started yesterday, as a graduate student, I mean. Not teaching. Egad, that would be awful! No, just taking two classes at my regional CUNY school.

One class is on research; it's a sort of prep class for the upcoming year's thesis writing (blegh!). The instructor has a good sense of humor and is pretty realistic about the course. She was like, "this information is kind of boring." She uses a green apple example to talk about studies and variables and stuff. There will be a couple short papers and two tests, but she seems to do a lot of review in class. Plus all the "notes" are on powerpoint slides, so it's not tough to keep up with things.

The second class is on diversity. Oh, that's interesting. No, it actually is, but talking about it in a group of people, in a diverse group of strong-minded, talkative people...hoo boy, it's an experience. So far it's been some good discussion. Yesterday we talked about different kinds of diversity: race, gender, class/socio-economic status, ethnicity, language, history, religion, etc. Today we learned a new word, "multilogicality." That means thinking about the ways that all of the forces in our lives (all those "diverse" things from the list) affect how we learn and more importantly, who we are.

"Diversity" has become a huge catchphrase in the last decade or two. But it has fairly specific connotations. Just like "inner city." We know that to be diverse means you have to have lots of different kinds of things in one place, group, or sample. And the inner city is a geographical term. But both of them are now catchwords that sort of surreptitiously mean "nonwhite" and/or "poor."

My school is fairly diverse. What that means is that there are a few dominant groups of represented populations. White is not one of them; I am by far a minority in the classroom and among the faculty. But the "race" categorization doesn't really work; you'd have to group them by nationality/ethnicity. Because obviously that affects their identity and actions.

I have learned some things over the year about some of the "multilogicality" in regards to ethnicity and national origin. If I know that a child comes from a certain country or culture, I can usually know that they will be more focused on their education, because their parents emphasize school, respect, and politeness. These kinds of generalizations have come from seeing/talking to the parents themselves as well as other teachers that are from the neighborhood or have had longer terms teaching these populations.

But I really would not presume to know anything about a student based on what they look like. Cultures cannot be "matched" with appearance. Duh, right? Well, the kids forget or ignore that tenet of diversity acceptance and appreciation. I have to remind them all the time that you can't just judge people. Ay.

1 comment:

Fred said...

Nice post. I used to teach about diversity, and I've never heard the term multilogicality. That's a mouthful!

Good luck with your courses.