Being a social studies teacher in America has many responsibilities. One of these responsibilities being the teaching of diversity and cultures in and outside the classroom. In chapter two of Ellis, it addresses this subject in depth of what it looks like to be in charge of handling how to influence these important concepts of respect and sensitivity, “As the United States grows culturally more diverse, the need for developmentally appropriate education designed to help children understand, tolerate, and appreciate cultural differences becomes increasingly critical” (51).
As soon as a child steps into the classroom, they should recognize immediately that they are a unique individual. Every child possesses differing learning abilities, talents, backgrounds, and come from an array of cultures, “Social studies is learning about human activity, and the best way to learn about human activity is to make sure that every child you teach feels that he or she is truly part of the daily life of the classroom” (52). Knowing every student’s strengths and weaknesses plays an excellent role in developing a trusting relationship between teacher and student. With knowing the strength and weaknesses of every kid, the teacher in return can use these aspects to positively impact the student’s role and experience in the classroom.
Additionally, it is also important that all of your student’s respect and celebrate the differences amongst the melting pot that is your classroom. So, how do we do this properly? Ellis says one way to approach cultural sensitivity in social studies curricula is the “Contributions Approach”, where “..students are exposed to information that generally lacks a conceptual frame. Holidays, special occasions, food, and famous people are emphasized without providing a larger context,” (57). Personally, I experienced this approach in my ninth grade world history class. My teacher was very passionate about celebrating different cultures and religions, and did so through having culture potlucks, speakers from some of my peers’ families, and art projects relating to lectures. I thoroughly enjoyed this class because of how much personal information I was learning about my classmates as well as my teacher. It showed me that social studies is more than just dates and names, it was all around me. And that is what I want to strive for for the success and development of my students.