Cultural Plunges: Pre-service Teachers Confront Unacknowledged Biases

By Jioanna Carjuzaa.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

According to the U.S. Department of Education (2005), there are approximately 56 million students and 3.3 million teachers in our K-12 classrooms. Half the school aged population is expected to consist of students of color by the year 2020. It is estimated that more than 1 in 7 children aged 5 to 17 speak a language other than English at home. By 2026, the number of non-native English speaking students will reach 15 million (Garcia, 2005). The number of children growing up in poverty is on the rise; almost 40% of fourth graders are eligible for free or reduced-lunch. In addition to racial, ethnic, linguistic, and socioeconomic diversity, we are also a multi-religious society. While we are experiencing dramatic cultural diversity in our student population, the teachers are becoming more homogeneous (Causey, Thomas, & Armento, 2000). As is the case for the teaching corps in general, the teaching candidates in our education program in Montana are overwhelmingly white, female, monolingual, and middle class. Consequently, preparing pre-service teachers to work with a heterogeneous student population can be challenging. To provide my students with the necessary skills and knowledge to become culturally competent reflective practitioners (Diller & Moule, 2005) I ask them to step outside their comfort zones and take a Cultural Plunge. I want them to challenge their assumptions which are often grounded in stereotypes while exploring homogeneity among members of certain groups. This research project investigated the effectiveness of a Cultural Plunge experience in a multicultural foundations of education course as a way for teacher candidates to deconstruct their preconceived and often negative stereotypes about diverse groups.

Keywords: Pre-service Teachers, Learning Diversity, Multicultural Education, Student Diversity, Immersion Experiences, Unacknowledged Biases

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp.153-160. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 530.174KB).

Dr. Jioanna Carjuzaa

Associate Professor, Department of Education, Montana State University-Bozeman, Bozeman, Montana, USA

Dr Jioanna Carjuzaa holds a Ph.D. in Multicultural, Social and Bilingual Foundations of Education from the University of Colorado-Boulder. She recently left Oregon after five years in the Willamette Valley to return to Montana where she joined the education faculty at MSU-Bozeman in the fall of 2006 as Associate Professor of Multicultural Education. She has over seventeen years teaching experience as a multicultural teacher educator, diversity trainer, and English for Academic Purposes (ESP-Business) instructor. She has taught at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, at the University of Colorado, School of Education and The Economics Institute at Boulder, The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and at Rocky Mountain College in Billings. Multicultural education is her passion, professionally and personally. Dr Carjuzaa’s research focuses on culturally responsive pedagogy; she has been promoting the Cradleboard Teaching Project Science through Native American Eyes multimedia program for several years. She is a teacher educator committed to preparing pre-service teachers to become culturally competent and to work effectively with culturally and linguistically diverse students, as well as integrate Indian Education for all across the curriculum. She served as a citizen ambassador for the People to People Multicultural Education Delegation to South Africa in October, 2006. This is her second People to People Ambassador’s Program; in 2004 she traveled to China on a very memorable delegation. She is very active in the National Association for Multicultural Education and is former OR-NAME president.

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