CCA members to present at CTA Conference
Ed Gomez, San Bernardino Valley College, Lynette Nyaggah, Rio Hondo College, and Fola Odebunmi, Cypress College, will be presenters at the CTA Equity and Human Rights Conference in March.
Their double session will examine how the traditional Western approach to teaching in the areas of language, economics and history has affected teachers and students in our global society, and how noninclusive teaching practices can be identified and eliminated.
The session will begin with an exploration of the diversity of the world’s languages. Students may understand linguistic information in diverse ways. They may sort and organize ideas differently. Understanding how languages are diverse gives us multiple tools to reach students.
While language is a tool for communication, it can be used to dismiss or exclude others without our realizing we are doing this. Terms such as “savages” and “natives,” referring to colonized peoples, are examples. Examples will be elicited and discussed so that we can all increase our awareness of the power of language to both uplift and diminish others.
The session will then turn to what the economics curriculum calls for in our school system. The presenters will show why Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is not the only measure of a country’s economic health, though this is how economists compare the U.S. with developing nations. The presenters contend that a measure of economic well-being ought to replace GDP as a measure of a nation’s health, and that as we become more realistic in our interactions with other nations, races and ethnicities, we can embrace further diversity within the American economy.
GDP is based solely on what goes through the market. In developing countries, other indices of economic success such as access to food and education, roads, and services may be better. Teachers who only have an American perspective are missing an opportunity of reaching their students, who may not be able to relate when told that measurements that are valued in their country of origin are meaningless from the perspective of American economic norms.
Finally, in the critical area of history, the presenters will show that Western ideology takes a linear view of history, emphasizing that those who get ahead are the strong and the best while many others are left behind, whereas about 90 percent of the world’s people have a cyclical view, emphasizing community and connection. We teach competitiveness and individualism, but we don’t teach communal understanding and sharing. Are we preparing our students for a world in which there’s diversity? Are we providing them the wisdom to live in the whole world?
After discussing these areas and how we can come to appreciate diversity through them, the presenters will explore ways to change our teaching so that we include diverse approaches to language, economics and history. When we reach this awareness, we will be able to join the two-way street of learning, where we value and appreciate those different worlds that some of our students and communities come from. We can include them in our world and join theirs, to the benefit of all of us.
The CTA Equity and Human Rights Conference is March 3-5, 2017, at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose. Register at www.ctago.org.