Thursday, March 30, 2006

Culture Matters

I found the article that Makigirl put up the other day (two posts ago) to be pretty interesting. I have to say that I largely agree with it.

(Forgive me as I ramble about stuff I have no knowledge of. Well, I already did that with my NCAA picks, I guess.)

The basic point was that culture matters alot, but no one actually does anything about it. All the academics and people interested in education reform just worry about economics. I guess that's at least partially good. There are those people who just worry and complain about the stupid kids. I have little time for them. But, yeah, culture probably does play a significant role into why some groups of students achieve and others do not.

Unfortunately, it's really difficult to talk about. How do I, as a youngish, middle class white guy, talk effectively about different cultures in the US. How do I talk about why some succeed and others do not? It ain't easy. And I think that's one of the reasons why we consistantly fail at education "reform". A great majority of the people talking about it are just like me. We either can't see problems (because of our own cultural blinders), or we don't want to see problems (because we don't want to look and sound like some stupid racist). Conversations never get started and if they do, they devolve pretty rapidly.

I thought it was very interesting in the article how he talked about white kids moving into hip-hop culture, but then having other means of advancement when they needed them, but that culture is all there is for African American kids. I think that's very true. I can use 50cent to make me seem cool when necessary, but I can also leave him at the door and go back to being everybody's favorite geeky white boy. It's very powerful. The inverse situation must carry an equally powerful weight.

I think the solution to educational problems aren't easy at all. I complain alot about the nuts and bolts of particular educational minutiae, but that doesn't really matter all that much. I think that if all kids went through exactly the program that I would design, things wouldn't be that much different. There'd still be gaps and holes. Education is about talking. Education is about mentoring. Most importantly, education is about empowerment, but sadly, I don't think that American culture is much about empowerment.

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