Interfacing Culture Specific Pedagogy With Counseling: A Proposed Diversity Training Model for Preparing Preservice Teachers for Diverse Learners
By Marbley, Aretha Faye; Bonner, Fred Arthur II; McKisick, Sheketa; Henfield, Malik S; Watts, Lisa M
As the 21st century begins amid high hopes and great expectations throughout the world, the decline of academic performance overall in P-12 schools, and the consistent underperformance of students of color and low income students continues to persist in the United States (Harrow, Mieses, Shopsin, & Taylor, 2000; Johnston, 2005; Roach, 2004; Simpson, & Schnitzer). The future welfare and the national security of our country depends not only on how well we educate our children, but also on how well we prepare teachers for working with racially and culturally diverse learners (Chew, 2003; Finn, 1989; Tanner, 1993; U.S. Department of Education, National Commission on Excellence in Education., 1983). All of this means the prevailing achievement gap among White students, students of color, and low-income students demands immediate action.
Due to changing demographics in the K-12 student population contrasted with the homogeneous population of prospective teachers, the uncertainty about teacher preparedness to meet the needs of diverse student populations remains a controversial educational issue. Teacher educators have continued to question whether preservice teachers presently in schools, colleges, and departments of education (SCDEs) have the requisite skills and the necessary sensitivity toward racial and cultural diversity to meet the challenges associated with effectively teaching culturally diverse students.
Therefore, the purpose of this article is to address safe ways to prepare preservice teachers, specifically White teachers, but not limited to that ethnicity, who will teach in schools with an increasingly culturally diverse student population, particularly people of color. In an effort to meet the challenge of training educators to effectively teach culturally diverse students, we have created a culture specific pedagogical counseling (CSP) model. It is designed to address the construct of diversity-sensitive training as a possible factor for the P-12 prospective teachers’ lack of efficacy toward teaching culturally and racially diverse students.
Thus, the goal of the CSP model is to increase the comfort level of White preservice teachers (or teachers of any cultural, racial, and ethic background with limited exposure to culture differences) when interacting with people of color and people from diverse backgrounds. That is, the aim of the model is to provide multicultural training and experiences that challenge, stretch, and expand preservice teachers’s wordviews, axiologies, and epistemology without harming or scaring the bright and gifted teachers away from working with student from low socio-class and minority backgrounds.
Before introducing the model, in a section on teacher preparation, we provide the reader with background information (e.g., philosophy, theories, and history) that influence the shaping of the model. This includes culture specific pedagogy and Black pedagogy theories, counselor and teacher education diversity training models, teacher preparation, historical and current demographic trends, and segregated schools and the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision.
Teacher preparation remains center stage, both literally and figuratively, as the nation struggles with implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (United States Committee on Education and the Workforce, 2002). Educational reform movements past and present continue to scrutinize teacher preparation programs in SCDEs. The scrutiny of SCDEs gained momentum in 1983 following the National Commission on Excellence in Education’s report, A Nation at Risk. Suppositions about the quality of teacher preparation programs, the faculty attached to them, and students enrolled in them continue to fuel the debate about an educational system that does not seem capable of meeting the needs of the fastest growing subgroups in the nation’s schools.
Regardless of the reform initiatives invoked to focus the country’s attention on how poorly some of our nation’s schools are educating our children, teacher preparedness has consistently emerged as a central issue in educational reform initiatives that began ostensibly with A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983) and continues with No Child Left Behind (United States Committee on Education and the Workforce, 2002). The preparation of America’s teachers has remained the driving force behind the most recent educational reforms that began in the early 1980s.
Based on recommendations from entities such as legal, political, community, parental, and the public, actions related to teachers, prospective teachers, teacher educators, and teacher education programs have received more attention than other areas identified by the National Commission on Excellence’s report. By some accounts, many of the reforms brought about positive changes in the preparation of teachers inasmuch as those initiatives have, by most accounts, given rise to better teacher education programs.
Consequently, one indicator of a quality teacher education program is whether prospective teachers believe themselves to be well prepared for their expected classroom duties and responsibilities. Both the RATE Project (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), 1988-1995) and Teacher Quality: A Report on the Preparation of Public School Teachers (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1999) identified areas of development to ascertain how well professional teachers and preservice teachers believed their teacher preparation programs prepared them for their roles as elementary, middle, or secondary level teachers. With few exceptions, prospective teachers believed themselves to be ready for their teaching responsibilities.
One exception to the professional teachers’ and preservice teachers’ feelings of or beliefs about preparedness was the feeling of inadequacy (lack of preparedness) they felt for teaching students of color, specifically addressing the needs of non-native-English- speaking students or from students from diverse cultural backgrounds (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1999), despite the diversity training received in academic their courses. Although research has been conducted on the experiences of students of color from preschool to college campuses, few data exist on White students’ experiences as a result of multicultural training.
The Surge of Re-segregation: Demographic Trends and the Aftermath of Brown
Substantial demographic changes in schools that stemmed from the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision have played a major role in the dilemma that has presently perplexed educators of prospective teachers who will teach an increasingly diverse student body. These changes-(a) decrease in numbers of teachers of color (Foster, 1997; Larke & Larke, 1995); (b) increase in numbers of preservice teachers trained to work effectively with only one cultural group (Nel, 1993), and (c) rapidly increased numbers of students of color-have forced teacher educators to examine and develop appropriate methods of preparing prospective teachers for teaching all children.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2001), the 100 largest school districts vary across districts by student’s race, ethnicity, poverty level, and disability status. Also, the 100 largest districts, with 23 percent of the nation’s public school students, serve 40 percent of the 18.5 million minority public school students. In the 100 largest school districts, 68 percent of the student population are students of color compared to 40 percent of students nationally. Moreover, demographers have predicted that “if current trends continue, about 46 percent of the nation’s school- age youths will be of color by the year 2020″ (Gay, 1993, p. 169).
By 2050 the “Census Bureau [has] projected that the total school- age population would reach 58 percent non-White” (Orfield & Yun, 1999, p. 7). These changes have emphasized the need for all teachers to have the attitudes, knowledge, and skills to work effectively with racially, ethnically, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse students (Banks, 1993; Smith, 1969). Teacher preparation programs must begin to ensure that students not only have content- specific pedagogical skills but also culture specific pedagogical skills.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
Few cases have come before the nation’s highest court that so directly affected the minds, hearts, and daily lives of so many Americans as the 1954 landmark Civil Rights case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (Ethridge, 1979). The cases’s outcome barred the segregation of students by race in public schools. This decision continues to be important to the education reform movement in general and to our model in particular for two reasons: (a) constitutionally sanctioned racially diverse classes exist as a result of integration and (b) the preparation of teachers to effectively and respectfully teach all students is an absolute necessity.
However, \the most significant impact of the Brown decision has been that it began a groundswell of more integrated schools for nearly a quarter of a century as more minority parents sought to have their children attend better schools. Prior to the Brown decision, a predominantly segregated female teaching force taught the nation’s segregated school children (Foster, 1997). As minority children began migrating to formerly all-White schools, Black teachers lost their jobs as Black schools began closing (Delpit, 1997; Ethridge, 1979). As the integration process became a reality for roughly 25 years, the vast majority of all teachers for all children was and continues to be White (Delpit, 1997; Foster, 1997).
The tide of increasingly integrated schools turned during the late 1980s as evidence suggested that “students in the South have grown more segregated by race than at any time since the days of separate schools for Blacks and Whites” (Richard, 2002, p. 5). Furthermore, “The national trends have parallels with the Southern trends”; therefore nationally “schools continue the pattern of increasing racial segregation for Black and Latino students” (Orfield & Yun, 1999, p. 13).
Near the end of the 20th century, more than one third of all Black and Latino students in metropolitan areas attended schools where members of groups of color made up an overwhelming majority of the student body (Willie, 1999; Woolfolk,1999). But one must not assume that the issue of resegregated schools is just an urban problem. “There are large and increasing numbers of Black and Hispanic students enrolled in suburban schools, and the vast increase in suburban diversity presents challenges for thousands of communities that have made no preparations” (Orfield, 2000, p.6) in order to meet the needs of such diverse student populations.
Black and culture specific pedagogy are two approaches that are grounded in theory, curricula, content, and teaching methods that address existing incongruency among White teachers and students of color from different and conflicting backgrounds, values, cultures and worldviews. Whereas Black pedagogical practices are centered in African-American peoples’ historical experiences of racism, discrimination, and survival practices, culture specific pedagogy is more inclusive of people of color in general as well as any people from culturally diverse backgrounds. In essence, we present Black and culture specific pedagogy as a theoretical framework to connect the White middle-class female preservice teacher’s experience to the reality of the economically poor student of color.
Theoretical Frameworks: Black and Culturally Specific Pedagogy
Black pedagogy, according to hooks (1994), is an approach that goes beyond the classroom in order to reach students and to build the necessary relationships where teaching and learning can begin. In essence, Black pedagogy is designed primarily to help urban, ghetto children attain excellence in reading, writing, and arithmetic notwithstanding their experiences with racism, poverty, and discrimination. It is geared to a specific, local urban context of black struggle.
Ultimately, Black pedagogy serves as a remedy to educational malpractice found to exist among instructors of African- American children. Historically, Black pedagogy has been used to teach African-American children how to defend themselves against law enforcement agencies, how to think critically, and how to succeed academically and spiritually (Irvine, 2002; Murrell, 2002).
Accordingly, Black pedagogy has the potential to be a powerful tool for preservice teachers and teacher education programs (Ladson- Billings, 1994, 1995; Siddle Walker, 1996, 2000) regardless of race. Many theorists, such as Darder (1996) and hooks (1994) have explored ways to create a hospitable and productive learning environment that addresses the needs of a racially diverse student population. Black pedagogy encourages teachers to always be mindful of the students, their learning, and their potential for growth. Additionally, teachers are persuaded that they must be resourceful, creative, and possess the overall capacity to not only accept, but expect student success. Additionally, Black pedagogy acknowledges that education is not neutral, thus teachers must find the space to discuss and initiate dialogue with their students as it concerns structural inequalities.
As a way of understanding Black pedagogy, we introduce two perspectives regarding Black pedagogy. First is the political or triune engagement perspective. The term triune engagement refers to the capacity to integrate the past, present, and future (Bartolome, 1994; Beauboeuf-Lafontant, 1999). The second perspective, communal caring, refers to the intentionality and holistic development of students, by teachers, for the specific purpose of community and racial uplift (Beauboeuf-Lafontant, 2002; Siddle Walker, 2000). The two perspectives presented here are by no means all encompassing of the literature on Black pedagogy.
The cultural relevance aspect of Black pedagogy focuses curricular content, lessons, and classroom activities that students encounter in the classroom setting within the cultural knowledge base that children bring to the formal educational context (Ladson- Billings, 1994, 1995). While cultural relevance takes into account values, lessons, and historical knowledge-political relevance pinpoints the explicit need and demand for educating Black children on social and political realities (Beauboeuf-Lafontant, 1999; Gordon, 1993).
Both perspectives, triune engagement and communal caring, demonstrate a legacy of educational self-determination, grounding in history to direct future endeavors, and a commitment to racial advancement (Anderson, 1988; Beauboeuf- Lafontant, 1999, 2002; Foster, 1997; Gordon, 1993). For these reasons, triune engagement and communal caring cannot be overstated and hence their importance to preservice teachers, teacher education programs, and education as a whole must not be underestimated.
According to Beauboeuf-Lafontant (1999) and Bartolome (1994), one way to view African-American teaching is through its ability to extend itself beyond the effective teaching of literacy and numeracy to the ability to engage students in “psychological and political processes of seeing themselves as deserving of first-class citizenship” (Beauboeuf-Lafontant, 1999 p. 707). This section focuses on triune engagement due to the literature’s focus prior to 1954 that highlighted three liberatory pedagogical practices used for teaching Black children: (a) political history; (b) assisting students in understanding how history has created current predicaments; and (c) future directions for students (Siddler Walker, 1996).
Triune Engagement can be potentially viewed as a combination of each of the previous practices. In particular the political process of achieving first-class citizenship is directly tied to students’ understanding their political history as African Americans, the relationship between past and current social structures, and a keen focus on future aspirations.
As a result of working with students in this triune manner (historical, current, and future), the teachers created a unique form of teaching predicated on the lived experiences of students and society’s political realities. Specifically, the works of Foster (1997) and Beauboeuf-Lafontant (1999) recognize that early 20th century teachers sought to acknowledge the political and historical dimensions of society, and also acknowledged what this meant for Black students in their everyday teaching practices. For example, Foster (1997) highlights a critical pre-desegregation conversation that one African American male teacher engaged in with his students. He stated,
If I wanted to come in this morning have my kids put their books under the desk or on top of the desk, and I’d get up on top of my desk, sit down, and just talk to them. Why are you here? Are you here just to make out another day? Or are you here because the law says you must go to school? Are you here to try and better yourself? This kind of thing I could talk to them about. Well, now I’m here to better myself. Well what must you do? What are the requirements? Do you know where your competition is? And I could talk to them about things like that. Your competition is not your little cousin sitting over there. Your competition is that White person over there in the other school. He’s your competition. He’s the one you’ve got to compete with for the job. And the only way you are going to be able to get that job is that you can’t be as good as he is you got to be better. And I could drill that into their heads. But once you integrated, I mean you didn’t feel, I didn’t-I don’t feel comfortable really in a mixed setting to really get into the things that the whites did to us as Black people. (pp. 133-134)
In summary, Black pedagogy and specifically the aspect of triune engagement views educating Black students with their past, present, and future in mind. By acknowledging the history of African Americans in this country, students are prepared to fully participate in the current society as well as lend their knowledge and skills for the betterment of future society.
Black pedagogy with its emphasis on engaging students in a politically triune manner is also noted for its tremendous capacity to promote caring. The communal caring aspect of teaching extends beyond an individualistic and very current approach to caring for students and includes the community and a future focus on Black people as a whole (Beauboeuf-Lafontant, 2002; Foster, 1997; Siddle Walker, 1996). Black pedagogy, more specifically communal caring, draws on an intrinsic notion of care for Black people. This form of caring is not learned or taught; rather it springs from an innate foundation of pedagogical practices(Siddle Walker, 1996; 2000).
Teaching that incorporates communal caring promotes an understanding that at times most students will be disruptive, yet the sanctity of teaching and the students’ capacity as learners is not based on their behavior. Thus, this form of caring is not individualistic nor is it conditional.
Moreover, communal caring appears not to be comprised of merely simple rhetoric, but tangible actions seen in and out of school settings. As an example, Beauboeuf- Lafontant (2002) and Siddle Walker (2000) reveal how caring impacts students’ overall cognitive, social, and emotional development. This holistic approach, in turn, establishes connections and allows teachers to not only use kinship terms, but also find familiar ways to assist and reinforce necessary survival skills. Additionally, African-American students are provided with a social education that will assist them in mediating exigent life situations. Foster (1997) interviewed veteran African American teachers who illustrate one aspect of social education. One teacher interviewed noted,
I got disillusioned with integration because I could not get to my people [students] and tell them all of the things that they needed to know. I could not beat into their minds that they had to be better-that to compete with that White kid on an equal basis was not enough, I couldn’t tell them that. I couldn’t stop my class and tell them that so that he would understand. I think this is one of the things that they miss, Black kids, in general. (pp. 133-134)
The tenets of Black pedagogy appear to be congruent with the goals and objectives of the nation’s urban teacher education programs. These programs (e.g., McGee, 2004; Okagaki, 2001) are attempting to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to be effective in urban environments, where a large majority of the students are students of color. Similarly, Black pedagogy is built on a foundation of political engagement, caring, and agency and cultural relevance, all of which are noted for increasing teacher effectiveness and student learning. As teacher education programs become more culture specific and as pedagogy becomes more responsive to the needs of urban students, we will then potentially see the goals of Brown and No Child Left Behind realized.
Culture Specific Pedagogy
There is little consensus among leading researchers and theorists regarding the success or failure of the Brown decision. Few have suggested that it has been overwhelmingly positive or negative after 50 years. However, one particular side effect of the Brown decision has had a negative impact on the nation’s educational system, if, as we believe, that all children benefit from having a culturally, racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse teaching force. The phenomenon of Brown created the present profile of the nation’s teaching force, which is overwhelmingly White, monocultural, and female (Feiman-Nemser & Remillard, 1996; NCES, 1999). The loss of minority teachers during the integration process has resulted in the shortage of minority teachers today because of the reduction in their ranks from 1954 to 1972 (Ethridge, 1979; NCES, 1999). Their reduction has made it more likely than not that “the majority of the nation’s increasingly diverse student population will have little opportunity to be taught by teachers of color” (Darling-Hammond, Dilworth, & Bullmaster, in press, p. 6). Larke and Larke have posited that the shortage of African-American teachers has had a catastrophic effect on students (1995, p. 38).
The ever-widening chasm found to exist among homogenous teaching cohorts and heterogeneous student populations has created an exigency on the part of schools to identify the optimal teaching and learning context that is suitable for a diversity of learners. Perhaps the best point of departure to address this problem has been to identify viable strategies that promote a closer alignment and a better sense of congruence among teachers and students who bring varying and often conflicting cultures and worldviews into the classroom. In essence, how do we find viable approaches in the classroom setting to connect the middle class, White, female, suburban teacher to the poor, African-American, male, inner city student? One solution to this vexing problem has been the application of culturally relevant pedagogical practices.
Whether referred to as culture specific, relevant, or responsive- this pedagogical framework has been identified as an important component in enhancing the learning capabilities of students of color. The term, culture relevant pedagogy will be used for the remaining part of this section, since it has been highlighted by a number of researchers as an effective means of addressing both the academic and social needs of culturally diverse student populations (Gay, 2000; Ladson-Billings, 1994).
According to Gay (2000) culture relevant pedagogy uses, “the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, frames of reference, and performance styles of ethnically diverse students to make learning more relevant to and effective. . . . It teaches to and through strengths of these students; it is culturally validating and affirming” (p. 29). Thus, culture relevant pedagogy catalyzes both the content and process aspects of the teaching and learning paradigm, critical to the success of all students, particularly to the success of students of color.
Overview of Modelsfor Diversity-Sensitive Training
As the demographics of the United States continue to dramatically shift, educators, regardless of discipline, are and will continue to be challenged to serve an increasingly diverse body of students. The fields of teaching and counseling have acknowledged the need for an increased emphasis on diversity and diversity-sensitive training. As a result, several diversity-sensitive training models have emerged.
Multicultural counseling competencies from the field of counseling and psychotherapy. Sue, Bernier, Durran, Feinburg, Pedersen, Smith, and Vasquez-Nuttall (1982) created a three-stage developmental sequence for multicultural training. Building upon this work, Sue, Arredondo, and McDavis (1992) developed the Multicultural Counseling Competencies (MCC) that focus on the development of increased multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skill. The MCC have been operationalized (Arrendondo, Toporek, Brown, Jones, Locke, Sanchez, & Stadler, 1996) and adopted by the Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD) and endorsed by the American Counseling Association (ACA).
According to some researchers (Ponterotto & Casas, 1991; Ponterotto, 1997), as the interest increased in producing counselors who are multiculturally competent over the years, so has the number of multicultural training courses and models of diversity-sensitive training. Three examples of such models are: (a) Pedersen’s Conceptual Framework for Developing Cultural and Cross-Cultural Competence; (b) Hogan-Garcia’s Model for Cultural Diversity Competence; and (c) Hays’ ADDRESSING Model.
Pedersen’s Competence Model
Pedersen’s Conceptual Framework for Developing Cultural and Cross- Cultural Competence (1994) model is comprised of the domains of awareness, knowledge, and skills. Pedersen (2003, p.193) describes the individual stages as follows:
The first stage-awareness provides the basis for accurate opinions, attitudes, and assumptions. At the second stage, knowledge provides the documentation and factual information necessary to move beyond awareness toward effective and appropriate change in multicultural settings. The third stage, skill, provides the ability to build on awareness and apply knowledge toward effective change in multicultural settings.
Hogan-Garcia’s Skill’s Model
Hogan-Garcia (2003) offers another model for cultural diversity competence that is focused on systemic change. “The broad objective of this training model is to work on a person-to-person basis to provide an interpersonal foundation for change while refashioning our hierarchical social structures into more collaborative, synergistic collectives” (p.4). The training consists of the development of four skills.
The first skill is the development of an understanding of the four levels of culture: (a) personal; (b) ethnic or culture group; (c) U.S. mainstream and national; and (d) organizational. Secondly, an understanding of the six barriers to effective communication must be achieved. The six barriers are: (a) language (nonverbal communication); (b) verbal communication; (c) preconceptions, stereotypes, and discrimination; (d) judgments; (e) stress; and (f) norms, policies, procedures, and programs unfriendly to cultural diversity. Next, culturally-centered communication skills must be developed.
Lastly, the design and implementation of organizational-cultural competent strategies and action plans must be achieved. In the ADDRESSING Model, Hays (1996) offers a conceptualization of nine complex cultural influences that the American Psychological Association (APA), AMCD, and a host of culture-specific researchers have deemed to be of particular importance: (a) age, (b) disability, (c) religion, (d) ethnicity, (e) social status, (f) sexual orientation, (g) indigenous heritage, (h) national origin, and (i) gender.
The model can be used in three ways that are useful for examining biases and developing increased understanding of the specific aspects of culture clients identify as being of utmost importance. First, the counselors can use the model to evaluate their own biases and explore areas where they may lack experience. It can also be used to increase awareness of the “-isms” affecting people of color as a means to gain increased understanding of the connections between racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression. Lastly, by examining a particular ethnic group through the lens of the model, the tendency to make gener\alizations of inaccurate biases may be decreased.
Racial Identity Attitudes Models
A possible explanation for many generalizations of inaccurate biases is a lack of understanding of racial identity. “Racial identity attitudes represent the extent to which persons hold positive, negative, or mixed attitudes toward their own racial or cultural group and their place in it” (Carter & Helms, 1988). Understanding that there are more differences within groups than between (Cornell & Hartmann, 1997), it is expected that people of the same racial group will have multiple differences, as well as similarities and cannot be viewed with a monolithic lens (Robinson & Howard- Hamilton, 2000).
There are numerous other models that may be utilized to gain further insight into racial identity development, such as Cross’s Nigresence Model (1991), Sue and Sue’s Racial/Cultural Identity Development Model (1990), Poston’s Biracial Identity Development Model (1990), and Helms’ White Racial Identity Development Model (1995), to name a few. According to Helms (2003), it is not clear the extent to which pre-secondary-school aged children have developed their own sense of racial identity. It is much safer to assume that children begin school imitating the attitudes and behaviors of those in their home environment. “Therefore, it is important for educators to be familiar with models of adult racial identity development in order to recognize imitative childhood racial identity development whether the behavior being imitated derives from the home or the school environment” (Helms, p. 45).
Before engaging in any training activity, Pedersen (2003) asserts that a plan must be created that provides structure for the training activity. An example of a five-stage process for planning a training activity consists of: (a) the creation of a needs assessment in order to determine the specific needs of the trainees and how they should be prioritized; (b) the design of objectives for the training as designated by the data collected from the needs assessments; (c) the design of a plan that explicitly states how the previously designated needs and objectives will be met; (d) implementation of the training design; and (e) evaluation of the knowledge, awareness, and skills of the trainees according to previously documented objectives.
Therefore, armed with background and historical information on children of color, counselor education and teacher education diversity training models, culture specific and Black pedagogical theories, the team of teachers and counselors has a grasp of the basic tenets that undergird the CSP model.
An Effective, Safe, and Ethical Diversity-Sensitive Training Model
Historically in our nation’s schools, we have found that students of color have constituted some of the lowest number in gifted education and the highest numbers of school dropouts or special- needs-category designees (Ford & Harris, 1999). According to Howard (as cited in the U.S. Department of Education, 1999), during the 1988-89 school year, African-American and Latino students constituted approximately 28% of the nation’s public school enrollment; yet, this group represented 50% of all students labeled as mentally retarded, roughly 40% of all students identified as developmentally delayed, and nearly 37% of all students classified as mentally disturbed.
This seeming overrepresentation of students of color has been recognized, but still not resolved (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2005), and thus should signal to educators and individuals connected in any way to American education that perhaps the problems associated with these school failures are in some way related to culture and race.
In a review of the literature pertaining to research on the effectiveness of multicultural education, Kiselica and Maben (1999) reported four major conclusions. First, professionals who have completed diversity training perceive themselves as having consistently experienced positive changes in their biases towards people who are unlike themselves. Second, the etiology of prejudice reduction is unclear due to lack of reliable and valid measures of prejudice reported in the literature. However, significant improvements in attitudes toward homosexuality were found to exist after multicultural training. Third, due to the lack of experimental studies in the literature, the cause and effect relationship between the training and prejudice reduction can not be determined. Fourth, diversity training appears to have an effect on individuals’ movement from lower to higher statuses of identity, which involves reduction of racial prejudice (Helms, 1984).
Over the last four decades, the multicultural movement has emerged as a powerful force in the fields of education and counseling. In an increasingly diverse society, a multicultural approach to training educators and practitioners is essential. Professionals (from all fields) should be able to respond effectively to people from diverse backgrounds. While professional associations and accrediting bodies within education have provided support for multicultural training initiatives, little consensus exists in the academy as to which training components are most effective. Furthermore, even fewer empirical data exist upon which programs may rely to redesign their curriculum to be inclusive of multicultural initiatives.
In addressing educators’ lack of preparation and efficacy for working with students of color, most universities are requiring preservice teachers to enroll in a multicultural or diversity course. Research shows that too often White students leave diversity or diversity-infused courses feeling angry and, as a consequence, unwilling to work in low-income, urban schools serving primarily students of color. For that reason, this CSP model was designed to provide an outlet to process the didactic and experiential activities, events, and exercises preservice teachers experience during diversity-sensitive training in an academic setting.
The model is one that is framed in epistemological and theoretical frameworks such as cultural specific pedagogy and Black pedagogy. The model, although grounded in the historical roots of segregated education, multicultural counseling and therapy, multicultural counseling training, and group counseling model, is an initial attempt at a multidisciplinary approach. Therefore, before introducing the model and providing you with guidelines, we remind professionals wishing to apply the model that it is a work in progress.
The Culture Specific Pedagogical Counseling Model
The model emerged from our collaborative multicultural work as professors, practitioners, and supervisors in collegiate and P-12 institutions. It embraces three mutually compatible theoretical approaches- multicultural counseling and therapy (MCT), culture- specific pedagogy, and counseling. MCT, for example, addresses the complexity of culture, inadequacy of existing theories for dealing with cultural elements across multiple cultures, lack of effective multicultural training for mental health professionals, acknowledgment of collectivistic cultures, how learning and identities are formed within a cultural context, and the negative effects of both unintentional and intentional racism (Sue, Ivey, & Pedersen, 1996).
The model, in effect, is designed to increase the racial identity statuses and the comfort level of preservice teachers with counselor intervention, thus improving the comfort level of preservice teachers when interacting with students and groups of color. In order to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of the model, qualitative and quantitative data methods are applied.
In step one of the model, the instructor selects instruments that assess preservice teachers’ multicultural awareness and sensitivity, level of racial comfort, and racial identity development. For example, for racial identity status, participants, based on their racial identification, may self-administer one of three racial identity instruments: Black Racial Identity Attitude Scale (BRIAS) adapted by Parham and Helms (1981); White Racial Identity Attitude Scale (WRIAS) adapted by Helms (1990c); People of Color Racial Identity Attitude Scale (POCRIAS) adapted by Helms (1995).
We also recommend that preservice teachers complete surveys at the beginning and end of the semester. In addition, the students complete follow-up surveys at three, six, and nine months after completion of the course. Potential mediating variables such as race and sex (i.e., male or female) are explored. Students are required to keep journals and to send the instructor an electronic journal entry at least four times during the semester. By monitoring preservice teachers’ level of comfort and multicultural development during the course of the semester, the skills gained in the diversity training will prove to be meaningful and significant for the trainee.
Step two of the model consists of establishing the counseling intervention, experiential, or personal growth group sessions for preservice teachers enrolled in a multicultural/diversity course or a course with a strong diversity component. This involves a forged partnership and collaboration between Counselor Education and Teacher Education programs within the College of Education at the same institution. Legal issues, such as liability and informed consent, should be carefully addressed.
For a period of eight to 12 weeks (depending on the length of the academic semester), licensed counselors (co-facilitating) or supervised counseling interns are to provide weekly personal growth group counseling. According to Kottler (2001), experiential growth groups focus on feelings and interpersonal engagement, learning through action instead of just dialoguing, and on the present rather than the past. Group members need to be reasonably high-functioning and worki\ng on general growth issues rather than specific problems.
As a prerequisite to effective group work with preservice teachers, group facilitators must be prepared to understand the power, variations, and subtleties of the group dynamics related to racial issues in multicultural group counseling (Kottler & Marbley, 2004). In order for group leaders to be competent and effective group facilitators, they must be aware and comfortable with their own racial identity and armed with knowledge of cross-cultural group interactions (Haley-Banez, Brown, & Molina, 1999). According to multicultural therapists, being comfortable with their racial group and comfortable with other racial groups indicates an advanced developmental status of racial awareness needed in cross cultural counseling (Helms, 1995).
The Counselor Education program should use doctoral-level interns (preferably licensed clinicians) to facilitate personal growth groups for preservice teachers enrolled in a course involving massive exposure to diversity and diverse populations. Further, we strongly recommend that one of the co-facilitators be a member of the racial group that reflects the majority of group members. For example, if the preservice teachers are predominantly White, then one of the group facilitators should be White.
Group facilitators provide a safe environment for the group members to process their experiences. For starters, the group facilitators are autonomous and remain separate from the instructor or the instruction of the diversity course. Accordingly, group facilitators do not evaluate the preservice teachers for grades or academic progress.
All group facilitators will be held to the American Counseling Association Codes of Ethics and Standard of Practice (e.g., maintaining confidentiality and avoiding dual roles). For example, confidentiality within the ethical and legal guidelines of professional counselor is strictly maintained; that is, dialogue within the groups is not discussed outside of the group, including with the instructor of the class, without the full group consent.
Step three involves classroom experiences- assignments, teaching experiences, and the like. Students in these courses participate in activities throughout the semester designed to enhance multicultural awareness and sensitivity-readings, experiential exercises, class discussions, and community experiences.
Finally, step four is more focused on termination, debriefing the diversity experience, and providing follow-up counseling services when needed. This is in two parts: the first is termination with the group counseling experiences (done by the counselors), and the second is termination of the class (done by the classroom instructor or the university calendar). Efforts should be made to identify students who are adversely affected by exposure to the diversity experienced in order to further process and to assure their further safety.
The above is an introduction of a model in progress that will improve over time with input from practitioners. We believe that our culture-specific pedagogical counseling model will inform the need for culturally responsive guidelines that focus on the preservice teacher. Most importantly, we hope the model deflects some of the negative effects of diversity training by providing an outlet for students to debrief and process their feelings and thus add to the retention of qualified students working in at-risk schools. Ultimately, the purpose of the model is to supplement and enhance the experiences of diversity-sensitive training by providing support via personal growth groups for preservice teachers.
Many reform initiatives have taken place over the last three decades, yet most of these initiatives continue to reflect the views of businessmen and politicians who have extremely little, if any, experience with the realities of high poverty minority schools. Thus, what culture relevant pedagogy offers is a way in which the chasm referred to in the beginning of this section between minority students and their non-minority teachers can be reduced.
For instance, teachers are required to critically reflect on their own sense of identity and how their identities were constructed. It is important for teachers to look at their patterns of interactions with individuals and communities of color in order to determine if theses connections or lack thereof contribute to their views on certain populations, views that may be transferred during their interactions with students.
Additionally, it is most important for teachers to examine the disparate access that students of color have to the cultural capital and symbolic systems necessary to be successful in school. Bruner posits that the “limits of our inherent mental predispositions can be transcended by having recourse to more powerful symbolic systems, one function of education is to equip human beings with the needed symbolic systems for doing so” (p. 19).
As African-American professionals, educators, and practitioners from different disciplines within education, we personally and professionally understand the realities of the Black struggle as well as the realities of high poverty minority schools. Consequently, we have pooled our resources in order to find creative solutions for educating children, specifically children of color and children who are not faring well academically due to the incongruities associated with schools and their urban and culturally different backgrounds.
From a teaching perspective, both Black pedagogy and cultural- specific pedagogical approaches are relational and focus on strong relationships between teacher and student and strive for student excellence and success. Similarly, both theoretical frameworks acknowledge the structural inequities existing in various arenas of education, such as curricula, in the classroom theories, and teaching methods. From a counseling perspective, by using the model we provide a safe environment for preservice teachers, regardless of ethnic or racial background, to process their experiences.
We believe that providing a safe environment for preservices teachers to address diversity issues as well as process their feelings and responses to being exposed to differences is not only critical, but ethically responsible. It is a necessary action in preparing and retaining future effective educators of diverse students. To become more effective teachers in diverse classrooms, it is equally important for preservice teachers to have racist, biased, and stereotypic beliefs and behaviors challenged in a safe and learning environment.
For example, it is imperative for teachers from monocultural backgrounds, specifically White preservice teachers preparing to work in inner-city schools with predominantly marginalized people, to have a safe place to express stereotypic beliefs and feelings about marginalized populations and people of color without feeling defensive, shameful, and fearful of having their views and actions perceived as racist or racially motivated. It is an essential first step in ensuring that issues of diversity, multiculturalism, and race are not sidestepped but are addressed and viewed as a critical aspect of the educational process.
As the reality of a segregated school system that depends on White teachers rather than teachers of color to educate urban children of color sinks in, the need to find solutions and effective strategies for assuring the success of students of color rests on preparing White teachers to work with all students becomes paramount.
Unfortunately, as a side effect of the Brown decision, more than 50 years later, we are left without a pool of qualified teachers of color armed with tools grounded in the cultural reality and struggle of children of color to take the lead in assuring the success of our children. As the dialogue continues, we are still searching for what works and effective tools to prepare teachers for working with diverse learners.
Therefore, we offer the Culture Specific Black Pedagogical Counseling Model, anchored in multicultural counseling and Black pedagogy and culturally pedagogical frameworks, as one small step in addressing the diversity training needs of preservice teachers who will be assigned to work with students of color housed in urban classrooms.
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Aretha Faye Marbley is an associate professorin the College of Educationat Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas;Fred Arthur Bonner, II, is an associate professorin the College of Educationat Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; Sheketa McKisick is a school improvement supervisor with the Department of Learning Services/ACSIP Unit of the Arkansas Department of Education,Little Rock, Arkansas;Malik S. Henfield is an assistant professorin the College of Education, University of Iowa,Iowa City, Iowa;and Lisa M. Watts is assistant directorof the New Teacher Centerat the University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee.
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