Journey to Excellence


culture - (n) the lens of history, tradition, and environment, through which people groups view themselves and their world, and which shapes their attitudes, decisions, and behavioral responses

Culture cannot be identified simply by skin color or the location of birth or ancestry. Rather, culture is the complex collection of the arts, language or dialect, philosophies, or social and religious values of a group. These are all characteristics and traditions that are developed over time and may or may not be from the same geographical or environmental location.

Honoring the uniqueness of individuals and their cultural heritage can be a powerful educational experience. Recognizing various cultures needs to be part of a classroom environment. Awareness of the cultural differences in students’ backgrounds may be useful in understanding students’ expectations about learning. However, more often than not, such generalized perceptions can create problems for educators. Students remain individual learners and an educator must be careful not to label students in a manner that would adversely affect their opportunity for academic growth, let alone create an environment that would ostracize them socially, emotionally, or psychologically from the larger student body. Unintentional academic labeling, whether expecting too much or too little from a student, must be avoided.


Abdal-Haqq, I. (1994). Culturally Responsive Curriculum. ERICServlet?accno=ED370936

This source provides a good overview of how various cultures are ignored in the classroom not only through the neglect of the teacher incorporating the cultures, but also as a result of textbook inadequacies. In this article the reader will find characteristics of curriculum that includes various cultures, guidelines to assess cultural diversity in classroom materials, and a list of resources for educators.

Aiex, N. K. (1989). Literature as lessons on the diversity of culture. ERICServlet?accno=ED306602

Atwater, M. (1994). Multicultural Education: Inclusion of All. Athens, GA, University of Georgia Press.

Banks, J. (1993 January). Multicultural Education: Development, Dimensions, and Challengers. Phi Delta Kappan 75: 22-28.

Banks, J., Cookson, P., Gay, G., Hawley, W. E., Irvine, J. J., Nieto, S., Schofield, J. W. & Stephan, W. G. (November, 2001). Phi Delta Kappan, 83(3) p. 200 -203.

Bowers, C. A. & Flinders, D. J. (1991). Culturally responsive teaching: A handbook for staff development. New York: Teachers College Press.

_____ (1994). Integrating language and culture in middle school American history classes. http://

Dilg, M., Banks, J. A. (1999). Race and culture in the classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.

Gay. G. (2000). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. New York: Teachers College Press.

Lu, Mei-Yu. (1998). Multicultural children’s literature in the elementary classroom. contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=ED423552

Robinson-Rumble, B.J. (ed.). (1997 October/November). The Journal of Adventist Education, 60.

Utley, C. A. & Obiakor, F. E. Addressing diversity in special education research. contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=ED461195

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