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Breaking Barriers

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Roland Tharp, director of the Center on Meeting the Educational Needs of Diverse Student Populations, a federally funded research center at the University of California at Santa Cruz, has pored over thousands of studies on cross-cultural learning. All of the studies, he says, point to four basic ways educators can enhance learning for students of diverse cultural groups.

  • Education should be put in the context of the experiences and values of the students' communities.
  • Schools need to be relentless and explicit in teaching students the language of instruction--be it standard English, another language, or the specific vocabulary and rules that are unique to the subject matter being taught.
  • Students need to be engaged in joint, productive activities, such as putting out a newspaper, that allow them to work in ways that are culturally familiar.
  • Teachers need to engage in more purposeful, two-way conversations with students.

--Debra Viadero

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