The instructional strategies outlined in this chapter reflect a sampling of the most exciting and determined efforts to change the way the United States educates its citizens. Making a difference in Arkansas: The multicultural reading and thinking project. Questioning promotes active reader/text interaction. These "ideas at work" range in complexity and magnitude. Teachers must be aware that they see students' behavior through the lens of their own culture.
Some of these barriers are caused by educators' attitudes and beliefs; others are the result of institutional practices. The intent of the listing that follows is not to provide a thorough cataloguing of every barrier to sound instruction, but rather to place educators on alert. Critical thinking: Fundamental to education for a free society. Despite much progress during the past few decades, racism and prejudice are still ugly realities in all sectors of life in the United States, including education. Today, racism may be less overt and virulent than in the past, but its effects can still greatly harm minority students. Under the right conditions, low-income and minority students can learn just as well as any other children.
One necessary condition, of course, is that the teacher hold expectations of high performance for all students. Teachers must also be sensitive to the subtle ways in which low expectations can be conveyed. According to researcher Sandra Graham of the University of California–Los Angeles, when a teacher expresses sympathy over failure, students typically infer that the teacher thinks they are incapable of succeeding, not that they simply may not have tried hard enough. Collaborative research and development of reciprocal teaching. Most important, they must believe sincerely and completely that all children can learn. Educators must hold equally high expectations for affluent white students and poor and minority students—despite the disparity in students' backgrounds. Similarly, when a teacher gives students lavish praise for completing a simple task or offers help before being asked for it, students infer that the teacher thinks they are stupid.