Friday, February 27, 2004

Integrating Mexican-American History and Culture into the Social Studies Classroom.

Integrating Mexican-American History and Culture into the Social Studies Classroom. This article looks at ways teachers can bring Mexican-American history into class.

From the site:

Hispanics in the United States are now the fastest growing and one of the least educated ethnic groups in the country (Estrada, 1988; Broun 1992), and Mexican-Americans make up 63 percent of the entire Hispanic population (Estrada, 1988). Over the past 25 years, educators have initiated many programs and policies with the hope of improving educational attainment among Mexican-Americans and other Hispanics. The purpose of this Digest is to discuss one such effort--the integration of Mexican-American history and culture into the social studies curriculum. The Digest will discuss why this effort is so important and how to overcome possible pitfalls. Successful strategies discussed in this Digest include: (1) selecting texts and other curriculum materials that accurately represent the Mexican-American experience in the U.S., (2) helping teachers to become more knowledgeable themselves, and (3) creating a school climate that values ethnic diversity.

REASONS FOR TEACHING MEXICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE

Teaching such content serves multiple purposes. First, it can be important to the self-esteem of Mexican-American students. Studies suggest that positive ethnic affiliation among Mexican-Americans (and other groups) greatly influences individual development in many ways, including: lifestyle choices, values, opinions, attitudes, and approaches to learning (Gollnick & Chinn, 1990).

Yet, it is not enough for Mexican-American students--or any student--to learn only about their own cultural heritage and history. They must learn to appreciate and respect other cultural groups. This need leads to the second purpose of integrating Mexican-American history and culture into the social studies classroom: To develop "ethnic literacy" in ALL students. Ethnic literacy, as defined by Banks and Banks (1989), is a knowledge of the role and function that ethnicity plays in our daily lives, in our society, and in our transactions locally, regionally, and transnationally. Ethnic literacy allows all students to understand their uniqueness, to understand the complexities of ethnicity and culture, and to take pride in who they are as people.

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