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The school system in the United States was established as, and remains, an expression of the white, middle-class values dominant in the society. The "melting pot" theory, with its emphasis on assimilation and the reduction of differences has been held by many for a long time. In the schools, however, this emphasis tends to cause feelings of alienation among children from lower socioeconomic groups and ethnic minorities, especially African-Americans. Affirmation of African-American and other non-mainstream cultures in the classroom, therefore, is imperative for the survival of a sense of self among students. African-American culture can be affirmed for students through exposing them to literature by and about black people, discussing African-American history and cultural heroes, and explaining cultural holidays and celebrations, such as Kwaanza. Other activities can include field trips to museums reflecting African-American culture, classroom visits by authors or poets, or writing letters to prominent authors. In this process it is important that teachers function as partners, be willing to discuss racial or ethnic issues, allow children freedom of linguistic expression while they negotiate language, and maintain activity centers in the classroom that reflect elements of African-American culture. Teachers should also actively involve parents by inviting them to visit the classroom to talk to the children about their heritage and by presenting them as role models for children, thus helping instill the message that being a minority in the United States is not synonymous with being a failure. (BCY)

Descriptors: Acculturation, Black Attitudes, Black Culture, Black Literature, Black Youth, Childrens Literature, Classroom Environment, Classroom Techniques, Cultural Awareness, Cultural Opportunities, Educational Strategies, Minority Groups, Multicultural Education, Parent Role, Preschool Children, Preschool Education, Student Alienation, Subcultures, Teacher Role

Autor: Gayle-Evans, Guda


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