The African American Cultural Group
African Americans are one of the largest cultural groups in the United States. There are many things that need to be considered about this cultural group in order to be able to understand the overall effects that can be had on the education of African American students. A lot of cultural issues are present in the home structure and these cultural issues can be a part of what causes students to learn differently. Another way that culture affects one is how the person looks at different thoughts and goals and how they are able to organize them. This type of organizational context is important to understand for all cultural groups that an educator is working with however it is specifically important when someone is teaching students from the African American culture (Oysermann and Harrison 1998). There are many different types of information and stuff that can be handled as a part of helping to educate African American students. This is because there are some cultural differences that need to be considered in order to best identify things that are going on and how the education can be affected.
Being aware of cultural differences, cultural holidays and other things that are popular for the African American culture can greatly benefit the educator. As an educator things are important on these issues as there are a number of different things that can be followed up with. There is also a number of different aspects of the African American culture that should be respected and observed in the same manner that there are things that should be respected and observed in a number of ways. Another thing is that there are a number of different ways that things need to be different.
Some other areas that can greatly affect a student’s ability to learn is the subject of racism. With racism one racial group is thought to be less than another and therefore not worthy of the same things as the main racial group. Historically the education system has been at the center of the heated issues that have been involved in the civil rights movement. These issues are that there have been a number of things that have not considered to be fair with the other students. It has long been an issue that schools that have a majority of African American students have had older books and less funding than schools that are comprised of primarily white students. This issue is of major importance as there are many different things that can be done in order to approve African American student experiences in the education system. One of the first things that should be done is to make sure that all schools are operating with current books and materials that are needed in order to have the best education possible. There is really no excuse for any school in the United States to be less than another school based on the issues of race and the ability to have educational materials based on race. Another barrier that racism causes is emotional differences between students of different races. This emotional difference is that there are strong emotional connections and ties to the problems that are associated with racism and students who are African American often have a decrease in self esteem and problems with other emotional issues like anxiety and depression (Decuir-Gunby and Williams 2007).
Racism can have a huge impact on many different aspects of life. This is because racism is one of the things that has long since been thought of as an issue for anyone who is African American. Racism can also work in a reversed form as in the situation when a white person is mistreated by someone of another race. The overall issues with racism in the United States however are almost always some type of discrimination against those who are not white, typically and most commonly those who are African American. Some racist beliefs are that blacks are not as smart or capable as other races. This is also that there is a number of areas where it is thought that if someone is from the African American culture then they are not able to do the things that people from other cultures are able to do.
Overall the black identity has been marked by a lot of things that were affected by this emotional connection. This racism is an ingrained part of the African American culture and something that African Americans have long used as a way of shaping their overall perspectives on life and the things that they have sensed and felt. This overall racism has become an ingrained part of the culture and the perspective of how African Americans feel about themselves. What has been termed “stigma management and damage” has become a big part of the African American identity and who they are. Since this is often felt in many of the African American households there is a chance that this is something that might affect a student’s overall ability to perform in the educational system. For an educator to be aware of this and be able to integrate parts of the African American culture into his/her classroom is important (Cross Jr. and Strauss 1998).
This importance on integrating different cultures into the classroom is quickly becoming more accepted. There is a strong urge for cultural studies to begin in classrooms for younger students. There is a demand on many educators to be able to teach about different races and that all people should be created equal and should be thought of as people rather than just the color of their skin. This type of information can be given to the student through a number of different mediums and can be taught to the youngest students in the public school system. Educators can even encourage their school districts to carry the necessary information and curriculums needed in order to give this information.
Another issue when teaching African American students, the educator must be responsible enough to understand the things that are being discussed in the classroom settings. Many things should be considered and respected about the African American culture as many things should be considered in being able to manage and think about specific issues. Some of these issues are that there is a direct connection to the difference in family structure and many of the problems of African American students. This difference in family structure has long been written about and discussed. It has even been referred back to the time of slavery as being the culprit for the missing African American father and the mother who controls the children and the household. This also affects the students’ achievement, performance and overall ability in the classroom. This is because there are a number of different issues that need to be followed up with. These types of follow ups need to be included in the way that the teachers are taught to teach and need to be a part of the cultural studies part of the curriculum for the students in all classrooms.
Another area that has long since been seen as being a difference between the races has been the overall issues with testing. The testing problems are that there are is a direct line and observation that can be made between the students who are white and black and their testing scores. This has been seen in a number of studies and is considered to be general knowledge in today’s educational news. This is something that has been a part of the educational world and things that are a part of the educational process. However there have been some recent initiatives that have needed to think about things and changes that need to be made. This is something that can really begin to be best understood through the overall issues that are needed. In one research article there was a lot of information about the test score gap that has so often been seen. This test score gap has been evidenced as happening for a number of reasons. However in this particular paper it was called to light the overall relationship that a student has with his or her parents and how this can affect test scores. This is most often seen when parents are required to work a lot and are unable to be with the student as often as the student feels that it is needed. Another area that can affect a student’s test scores in relationship to their overall issues and things that were available in the home is the basic socioeconomic status of the student and those who were from lower socioeconomic backgrounds were subject to lower test scores as well (Yeung and Pfeifer 2009). Parental involvement has also been directly linked to the overall success of the student. In one research study the researcher conducted follow ups on children who had involved parents in grade school versus those who had parents who were not as involved. The students who had involved parents in grade school had much higher success rates in later school and were less likely to drop out and more likely to continue their education (Bernard 2004).
Many authors and researchers have made multiple references to changes that can be made in order to close the race gap in the public school systems of America. One such author is Neil Postman whose 1995 book, The End of Education, took a closer look at the multicultural studies that are currently being taught to the students. Through his book he made a number of references to things that he thought of as problems as well as areas where he could see it fit to be able to improve upon issues. His stance for a drastic improvement of the education system is one that could be thought of as somewhat radical as it is something that has been seen on a regular basis as being too forward and as being something that he needed to tone down a bit before it would be appropriate for all schools and all school systems. However the underlying meaning that no child should fall through the cracks of the education system still is very true to what is being seen as something that needs continued follow up by Postman. However some abstract thoughts and ideas that Postman suggests are things that can be utilized and thought about in each and every classroom as something that can be made to be a part of the education system. This is that the students, parents and educators need to be on the same page about the students’ education and that there needs to be some distinct type of multicultural studies taught in the classrooms.
In conclusion in order for an educator to have the most success of his or her students it is important that he or she is able to look at the overall affect of things and be able to see what is going on and how to be able to handle certain perspectives. These perspectives being that the student should be taught about multicultural aspects and should share some insight into their own culture with their fellow students. Realistically this will be hard when a cultural group is a minority however it is something that could still be greatly affective in teaching things like self esteem and other educational aspects from the student’s perspective.
Bernard, W.M. (2004). Parent Involvement in Elementary School and Educational
Attainment, Children and Youth Services Review, 26:1, 39-62
Cross Jr., W.E. and Strauss, L. (1998). 12—The Everyday Functions of African
American Identity, The Target’s Perspective, 267-279.
Decuir-Gunby, J.T. and Williams, M.R. (2007). Chapter 12-The Impact of Race and
Racism on Student’s Emotions: A Critical Race Analysis, Emotion in Education, 205-219.
Oyserman, D. and Harrison, K. (1998). Implications of Cultural Context: African
American Identity and Possible Selves, The Target’s Perspective, 281-300.
Yeung, W.J.J. and Pfeiffer, K.M. (2009). The Black and White Test Score Gap and Early
Home Environment, Social Science Research, 38:2, 412-437.