Discipline and Learning in a Multi-Cultural Classroom

Today’s global society gives our youth a perspective and insights into other cultures that were simply not possible a few generations ago. With so many families moving around the world for employment opportunities, it’s not uncommon to see classrooms with multi-cultural members. Students born and raised in the United States are sharing the classroom with children born in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. And if the children aren’t in the same classroom, they still observe and interact with each other thanks to video conferencing technology.

Of course, this brings up an interesting dilemma for teachers: Since these children come from homes that have different social attitudes toward studying, classroom behavior, bullying, teasing, etc., how can a teacher speak in general terms about specific topics that he/she knows will be understood differently by his/her students?

If I were a teacher in one of these classrooms, my message to student would be two-fold:

(1) No one can force you to learn, and I won’t even try. I will make the lessons and activities as interesting as I can for you. If you want to learn, wonderful. But do not think you are doing it for MY sake. Your learning is for your own best interests—not mine.

(2) You make choices every day—consciously or nonconsciously. Regardless of the situation, stimulation, or urge, you choose your responses. You can choose to learn or not, but you will not be allowed to disrupt other people’s learning.

Of course, these messages are important in any classroom discipline plan and are key components of the Discipline Without Stress methodology.

If you teach in a multi-cultural classroom, what differences in societal attitudes do you see emerge? Share your comments below.