It is my job to make sure that students are able to build upon what they already know, show them how to build a relationship with the world based on that prior knowledge and not to just tolerate cultural differences, but to appreciate them.
I took this from my final paper that I had to write for one of my Master's courses this semester. I thought it was a very profound statement. What I do in the classroom is defined by this statement. There is something to be said about being knowledgeable. It is better to know a little something about everything, than to know nothing about anything. As a person, you are just better prepared to deal with the nuances of life.
I have taken a very informative look at assimilation and the concept of the “melting pot.” Everyone gets together and melts into something delicious and merry. But, it is very interesting how a different viewpoint can shed light upon the shadows of a concept until the spotlight creates a blemish. Different cultures in American don't want to be melted down and become unrecognizable. The idea of being a part of something without sacrificing individuality is the precious commodity. So, the idea of the “melting pot” morphed into the idea of a “tossed salad” because no one wants to lose their individuality and that is exactly what happens in a "melting pot". Everyone wants to keep their identity and still be apart of something that is great – hence the “tossed salad” concept.
The American culture is like a patchwork quilt. The quilt is similar to the “tossed salad.” The only difference is that the quilt is united by the thread; there is no binding agent for the salad. With the quilt, people are able to show off the parts of their culture they celebrate the most, but still get to be part of something greater. It’s multiculturalism at its finest!
Empowering school culture requires a collaboration of parents, teachers, and administrators to make sure that regardless of diversity of a group, all students are given a fair and equal chance to rise beyond their potential and succeed. It can’t just be in one classroom. This concept has to be infused throughout the school building, the district, in order for change to take place. Look at how long educators have been working to get to this point and there is still a long way to go to insure that our educational “patchwork quilt” is well-made. The American culture is only as strong as it’s most frail or daintiest patch. We need to make sure that every patch gets the best stitching possible so that our quilt doesn’t rip.