Accommodating culture and cultural diversity in online teaching

They agree with Ramirez (1989) that “cultural differences in children's learning styles develop through their early experience” (p. Gardner (1991) echoes this perspective: “[W]e are as much creatures of our culture as we are creatures of our brain” (p. Sometimes people wonder which is more important: innate personality traits or the influence of culture? The most accurate response is probably “it depends.” Variables such as the congruence of innate traits with cultural influences; the support, or lack of it, within the environment for preferred behaviors and for taking risks; and general life successes will influence how learning style is shaped.When my culture supports my individuality, I grow and develop in healthy ways.

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Both results confirm the important roles of nature and nurture in shaping a person's approach to life—and to learning.

Every child of every culture, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, age, ability, and talent deserves to have an equal opportunity to be successful in school.

When my family encourages my uniqueness, I learn to trust my own innate predisposition.

If, however, I do not innately fit the expectations of a “typical girl” or “typical African American,” I become aware of the lack of congruence of my inner self with external expectations, and I have to reconcile those differences.

When do such descriptions feel comfortable, and when do they become simplistic stereotypes?

Are you “typical” of your culture in some ways, and are you unique in other ways?A highly public example of how sensitive these issues are occurred in 1987 when New York state published a booklet for educators aimed at decreasing the student dropout rate.A small section of the booklet described learning styles typical of minority students and identified certain patterns associated with African American students.These questions are both important and controversial.They are important because we need all the information we can get to help every learner succeed in school, and because a deep understanding of the learning process should provide a framework for curriculum and instructional decisions.These descriptions became the subject of intense scrutiny and animated debate. A deep understanding of both culture and learning style is important for all educators, though the subject must be addressed carefully.


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