Teachers Fight Legacy of Systems that Favor Certain Cultures, Learning Styles

History of schooling system is very unicultured

March 9, 2020


Beth Calderone stands at the whiteboard, teaching a Microeconomics class to juniors and seniors.

Although the achievement gap mainly surrounds students, one important facet is the aspect of the teaching influence.

Traditionally, the use of such strategies like straight rowed desks and bells aimed to produce factory workers during the 19th century. Despite the recent emphasis on critical thinking, Beth Calderone, Social Studies Department Chair, argues “those structures haven’t really changed, we still have schooling you compulsory do from eight to three and you show up a, it feels factory.”

Furthermore, Blake’s emphasis on college preparation creates a narrow definition of success that relies on ranking individually.  Calderone continues, “The SAT was not to see how smart or how well you achieved, it was to rank people… [the letter grade] system creates an environment that sets up a culture that values individual achievement over everyone else’s collective.”

This ranking that sets up a system that values the individual over the collective could allow some cultures to thrive and others to struggle. Calderone says, “There are a lot of communities, where that success is not as highly valued.”

When reflecting on a Blake-specific level, Anil Chandiramani, English teacher, pinpoints “students that come in with three or four learning differences… I don’t have the training to sometimes work with those kids.”  As numbers have risen for students diagnosed with learning disabilities to nearly 33% in the current Freshman class, this specific issue has increased in urgency.  He proposes, “I think [solving the issue] would require more learning specialists… and more content support.”

     Culturally speaking, Chandiramani says “[faculty] will get a special note about Jewish holidays… or Muslim holidays, but I have never gotten such an email for a Hindu holiday… In fact we had conferences one year on Diwali which is the most sacred Hindu day.” Moreover, often students suffer due to having to study during a religious holiday. Chandiramani proposes ìmore guidelines around holidays and workî to end hard deadlines for assignments or tests.

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