ERIC/RCS: Understanding Other Cultures through Literature

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  • ERIC/RCS: Understanding Other Cultures through LiteratureAuthor(s): Anne AutenSource: The Reading Teacher, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Jan., 1984), pp. 416-419Published by: Wiley on behalf of the International Reading AssociationStable URL: .Accessed: 24/06/2014 22:41

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  • JPt^t ERIC/RCS


    Understanding other cultures

    through literature

    Anne Auten

    According to Jamake Highwater (1978), "The greatest distance between

    people is not geographical space, but culture."

    In an era dominated by urgings for "minimal competencies" and for

    "survival skills," reading teachers might look askance at opportunities to

    widen their students' view of other cultures. However, an understanding

    of other languages and cultures is pointed out as an essential of education in a statement prepared by leaders of some 20 professional, educational

    organizations (Organizations for the Essentials of Education, 1982).

    Rationale Swift and Wahlstrom [ED 186 895], proponents of the concept of global education, envision a curriculum that will "promote an understanding of

    the values and priorities of the many cultures of the world, as well as the basic concepts and principles related to world communities."

    The understanding of cultures should be reflected in the elementary curriculum, according to Anderson [ED 065 367], who has called for the

    "globalization" of social and cultural education, a call echoed by many educators who see the need for the K-12 curriculum to reflect the reality of the "global village" or "spaceship earth." Anderson believes that

    "today.. .to fulfill their traditional mission in the social education of

    young people, the schools are expected to develop [curricula] whose

    geographical focus is the world as a whole...."

    Bibliographies Suggestions for developing such curricula are many. King [ED 052 094] urges joining the language arts, music, art, and literature with the social

    416 The Reading Teacher January 1984

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  • sciences and using that unity to foster "worldmindedness." Reading teachers interested in cultivating worldmindedness must still determine how they will promote it in their own classrooms. A traditional aid is the

    reading list. One such list followed an article by Hugh Lofting entitled "World

    Friendship and Children's Literature" in the November 1924 Elementary English Review. The compiler prefaced the list with the statement that the works were "the kinds of books on which children's hearts and minds should be nourished if they are to absorb ideals of justice and generosity, and breadth of interest, without which roots no international friendships can grow." A similar conviction may have motivated Tway [ED 199 745] to list more than 460 works of fiction under "World Cultures" in a

    section called "Appreciating Different Cultures." Tway annotates over

    170 titles for children of all ages. Urso [ED 210 225] has produced a bibliography that lists resource and

    instructional materials for classroom teachers who wish to design educational programs on worldmindedness. Urso defines worldminded individuals as those who are positively disposed to people with other cultural beliefs, perceive commonality in basic needs of all peoples, and

    develop their potential for the benefit of others as well as themselves. Urso's bibliographic entries include sections on the farther reaches of human nature including spiritual dimensions and holistic education,

    global education and futuristics, including world order and the United

    Nations, and interdependence and global problems, including development, energy, environment, and food. Entries include books, audiovisual materials, edited volumes, maps, teacher's guides, pamphlets,

    monographs, games, and religious tracts.

    Specific cultures Jones [ED 052 098] provides a collection of readings representing Latin

    American literature. Poems, short stories, songs, legends, and nonfiction

    have been translated from the originals and carefully selected for the intermediate and secondary grades. Many primary school children could also profit from some of the items when read by the teacher. The volume was funded by the Programa de Educaci?n Interamericana in the late

    1960s. Sims [ED 215 369] offers classroom teachers, librarians, and teacher

    educators information that will enable them to make better informed selections of recent literature for and about Afro-Americans. Her

    monograph reports on a survey and analysis of 150 books of

    contemporary realistic fiction about Afro-Americans published from

    1965-1979, appropriate from preschool through eighth grade. To

    emphasize images of today's children, books of historical fiction were excluded.

    Over 100 books by Indian authors about the culture of India are listed in an annotated bibliography designed primarily for teachers. It contains

    suggestions for using the books listed at the primary, intermediate, junior high, and senior high levels [Educational Resources Center, ED 055 943].

    Another annotated bibliography by Wagoner [EJ 271 116] lists fiction and nonfiction for children up to age 12 that deal with Mexican Americans. Wagoner notes that while numerous books about Mexican Americans were published from 1970 to 1973, only a handful have

    ERIC/RCS 417

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  • appeared since 1974. Slightly less than half were nonfiction titles on

    topics such as Chicano history, Cesar Chavez's life, and migrant workers. Titles range from picture books to longer stories and simple novels.

    Study guides A guide to a multicultural American literature component at the

    elementary school level by Ranta [ED 163 473] reflects the need to reorient both teachers and students to the pluralistic nature of U.S.

    society. Since an effective way to deflate the myth that there are "typical Americans" is to have students read and discuss the literature of the

    many cultures that contribute to American society, the booklists for the

    component include fiction about Blacks, American Indians, Puerto

    Ricans, Chicanos, Jewish Americans, and Oriental Americans. The activities on global awareness in a guide by Barrett et al. [ED 215

    923] are for use in elementary grades in social studies, reading, language arts, and creative arts. The guide's major goals are (1) to learn to

    recognize the interconnection between one's own life, one's society, and

    major global concerns such as environment, population, resources, and human rights; (2) to learn to understand basic human commonalities while recognizing the importance of individual and cultural differences; (3) to develop an awareness of how perceptions, values, and priorities differ among individuals, groups, and cultures; and (4) to develop the skills that enable students to respond creatively to local, national and international events, and to participate effectively at those levels.

    Conclusion Swift [ED 217 376] sums up the need for expanding the role of reading to include a global perspective:

    1. Change in all aspects of our lives is accelerating so fast we cannot keep

    abreast, but books can and do. We have, therefore, to diversify and intensify our reading to be prepared to choose those alternatives which will be most

    acceptable for us.

    2. New concepts of selective growth and technology will require the

    imagination and evaluative skills that are stimulated and fostered by reading and discussing that literary fiction which deals with such international issues.

    3. By encouraging an increase in well written, problem-oriented fiction, we can

    help achieve through reading the difficult goal of acclimating the younger first

    world generation to a new life style_

    Reading teachers who wish to expand their students' awareness and

    appreciation of other cultures can find additional material in the ERIC

    system by using the descriptor terms "Global Approach" and "Reading Instruction" or "Literature Appreciation," or by contacting ERIC's

    Coordinator of User Services.

    References Anderson, Lee F. What Contributions Can and Should the Schools Make to the

    International Education of Children and Young People? New York, N.Y.: Foreign Policy Association, 1968. 57 pp. [ED 065 367]

    Barrett, Junelle P., and others. Teaching Global Awareness: An Approach for

    Grades 1-6. Global Awareness Series. Denver, Colo.: Denver University Graduate

    School of International Studies and School of Education, 1981. 165 pp. [ED 215


    418 The Reading Teacher January 1984

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  • Educational Resources Center. Discovering India: A Guide to Indian Books for Use in American Schools. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York and The New

    York State Department of Education, 1970. 34 pp. [ED 055 943] Highwater, Jamake. Many Smokes, Many Moons: A Chronology of American Indian

    History Through Indian Art. Philadelphia, Pa.: J.B. Lippincott, 1978.

    Jones, Earl, ed. Intercultural Education Series. Selected Latin American Literature

    for Youth. College Station, Tex.: Texas A&M University, 1968. 163 pp. [ED 052

    098] King, Edith W. Worldmindedness: The World: Context for Teaching in the Elementary

    School. Denver, Colo.: Denver University, 1971. 238 pp. [ED 052 094]

    Organizations for the Essentials of Education. The Essentials of Education: A Call for Dialog and Action. Urbana, III.: National Council of Teachers of English, 1982.

    Ranta, Tai m i M. Literature for Children and Young People in a Pluralistic Multicul tural Society. Normal, III.: Illinois State University, 1978. 58 pp. [ED 163 473]

    Sims, Rudine. Shadow and Substance: Afro-American Experience in Contemporary Children's Fiction. Urbana, III.: National Council of Teachers of English, 1982. 116

    pp. [ED 215 369] Swift, Jonathan. "The Role of Reading in Global Education: An Inter-Disciplinary

    Approach." Paper presented at the International Reading Association World

    Congress, Manila, Philippines, August 1980. 13 pp. [ED 217 376] Swift, Jonathan, and Shirley Wahlstrom. Teaching into the Future: A School of

    Global Education, 1980. 16 pp. [ED 186 895] Tway, Eileen, ed. Reading Ladders for Human Relations, 6th ed. Washington, D.C.:

    American Council of Education; Urbana, III.: National Council of Teachers of

    English, 1981. 398 pp. [ED 199 745] Urs?, Ida. Teacher's Resource Manual on Worldmindedness: An Annotated Bibliog

    raphy of Curriculum Materials, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve. Occasional

    Paper No. 8. Los Angeles, Calif.: University of California, 1981. 136 pp. [ED 210

    225] Wagoner, Shirley A. "Mexican-Americans in Children's Literature Since 1970." The

    Reading Teacher, vol. 36 (December 1982), pp. 274-79. [EJ 217 116]

    Most ERIC materials are available on microfiche or in paper copy. Consult your library for the monthly indexes to the full ERIC collections, Resources In Education (RIE) and

    Current Index to Journals in Education (CUE). For information on ordering and current

    prices, see the most recent issues o/RIE and CUE or write to ERIC/RCS, 1111 Kenyon

    Road, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.

    Listening differs from seeing Radio and television have different effects on children's story comprehension. In a study with children in grades 1 to 4, the youngsters recalled the gist of a

    story equally well whether it was presented by radio or by TV, but other effects differed. TV presentation of a story improved the children's recall of

    details, their ability to arrange pictures about the story in correct sequence, and their inferences based on actions. Radio presentation improved their

    recognition of the story's expressive language (they retained verbal details), inferences based on their pragmatic and world knowledge, and inferences

    based on verbal sources. Teachers may want to use both media for language instruction so as to ensure well rounded skill development.

    See Jessica Beagles-Roos and Isabelle Gat, "Specific Impact of Radio and Television on Children's Story Comprehension," Journal of Educational

    Psychology, vol. 75 (February 1983), pp. 128-37.

    ERIC/RCS 419

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    Article Contentsp. 416p. 417p. 418p. 419

    Issue Table of ContentsThe Reading Teacher, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Jan., 1984), pp. 339-448Front MatterHelping Children Take Early Steps toward Reading and Writing [pp. 340-344]Correction [p. 344-344]An Interview for Assessing Students' Perceptions of Classroom Reading Tasks [pp. 346-352]Teaching Forms of Negation in Reading and Reasoning [pp. 354-358]What's in a Word? A Review of Young Children's Difficulties with the Construct "Word" [pp. 360-364]A Source of Cognitive Confusion for Beginning Readers: Learning in a Second Language [pp. 366-370]Reading Acceleration and Enrichment in the Elementary Grades [pp. 372-376]Story Schema: Theory, Research and Practice [pp. 377-382]Resolving the Letter Name Controversy [pp. 384-388]Critical Listeners Become Critical Readers in Remedial Reading Class [pp. 390-394]Test Review: The Spanish Oral Reading Test [pp. 395-397]Measuring Reading Vocabulary and Concepts in Mathematics in the Primary Grades [pp. 402-410]Letters [pp. 412-414]ERIC/RCS: Understanding Other Cultures through Literature [pp. 416-419]Critically SpeakingLiterature for Children [pp. 422-427]Professional BooksReview: untitled [pp. 427-429]

    Briefly Noted [p. 429-429]

    Research Views: Learning to Write Coherently [pp. 430-432]The Classroom Reading Tea...


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