k-12 Prevention Across the Curriculum  
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Knowledge of the student’s culture is part of all effective teaching; sensitivity to culture is especially important when addressing real life issues that reflect community and family problems. To effectively engage k-12 students the content and delivery of the Real Life Issues prevention curriculum should reflect understanding of the following seven aspects of diversity:

For additional resources on each area of diversity click on the link below.

The website is designed to assist in developing a knowledge base in each area of diversity. In planning Real Life Issues prevention curricula it is important to consider how each of the seven areas of diversity may affect students in the class that is taught and how these seven areas come together and intersect to affect students’ lives. We know that almost all Americans share a common set of aspirations (e.g. material success) and values (e.g. freedom and the importance of individual rights and responsibility.) Diversity refers to important variations and differences within the shared national culture. In addressing issues of diversity it is important not to stereotype groups. An understanding of general themes that accurately portray important features of the life of a group are very important for designing and teaching culturally sensitive curricula. But the general themes that apply to large numbers may not apply to everyone in a group. There are exceptions and there is variation in expression of the themes that portray important aspects of group life.

The Nature of the Students’ Culture Provides Challenges as well as Opportunities

The nature of the students’ culture provides challenges as well as opportunities in designing and presenting Real Life Issues curricula. Knowledge of student diversity –of the students’ and community’s culture and life realities-- provides understanding of the real life issue(s) to be addressed. Knowledge of the student’s community and culture also helps determine which evidence based strategies to employ in developing Real Life Issues curriculum. For example:
High achieving, competitive students in affluent communities may respond to the research based strategy focusing on accurate perception of personal risk. These students need to be shown that behaviors like alcohol and substance abuse put their future achievement in jeopardy. The competitive environment and desire for status of many in upper strata high achieving schools fosters an atmosphere which may well include social ostracism directed towards students who are considered outsiders and social “inferiors.” The real life issues curriculum provides the opportunity to challenge such behavior, to explore values of inclusion and encourage greater empathy.

The culture of Latino students emphasizes personal relationships and treatment of others with respect and dignity. A personal, respectful style of relating is very important in successfully engaging Latino students. The value of belonging and loyalty to the group—to family and peers—usually transcends the value of individual achievement. Because they function in the group, a promising research based strategy is to engage groups of Latino students in “pro-social” activity and align individual Latino students with pro-social groups.

Students in low income neighborhoods may live among neighbors, family and friends who sell and use drugs and are active in gangs. They are likely to understand the life situations and motivations of those engaged in these behaviors, be sensitive to the social inequalities that contribute significantly to these problems and want very much to see the problems curtailed. The history of oppression of African-Americans has left many African- American students distrustful of the fairness of the society and its institutions. Their culture values openness and truth and it is important to acknowledge the truth of racism and injustice that has adversely affected the community. The African-American community also values social movements that oppose oppression. In low income African-American communities, among other approaches, teaching strategies that stress damage to the community—the oppressive effects of drugs, violence and HIV/AIDS—and that attempt to engage students in community prevention may be especially effective in reaching students.

Effective Curriculum Infusion of Real Life Issues requires culturally informed and sensitive curricula and teaching.

Real Life Issues Curriculum Student Learning Objectives related to Diversity

College of Education faculty will prepare future teachers to demonstrate proficiency in each of the following areas as the candidates design and present real life issues curriculum.

  1. Education majors will demonstrate that they know how to acquire knowledge of the diverse student populations they teach. They should be prepared to examine student and community diversity in the schools where they will teach by:

      • - Race
        - Ethnicity (including religion and language)
        - Socioeconomic status
        - Gender
        - Sexual Orientation
        - Developmental status
        - Exceptionality

    The candidates will understand how these elements of diversity intersect. They should be aware that meaningful generalizations about a group should not turn into stereotypes - there are always individual differences.

  2. Future teachers will demonstrate a realistic understanding of how diverse social environments produce the real life issues students confront. (For example, problems of binge drinking, bullying and ostracism present in many high schools in upper income areas reflect the heavy drinking and competitiveness of the communities. Problems of drug addiction, drug dealing and gang activity reflect the low socioeconomic status and sense of exclusion of low income minority communities.)

  3. Candidates will demonstrate how they consider student cultures/diversity in selecting evidence based prevention strategies to incorporate into their real life issues lessons. (For example high achieving students may be especially impacted by the evidence based prevention strategy of misperception of personal risk. These students need to see how their academic futures are threatened by problem behavior such as binge drinking and bullying. African-American students who have been positively affected by the history of the civil rights movement may be especially affected by the evidence based strategies of involvement in community prevention and building pro-social (pro-community) norms.

  4. Future teachers will demonstrate how they apply their knowledge of classroom diversity in selecting instructional methods that are appropriate to the culture and individual learning preferences of students in their classes or case studies of classes.

  5. Candidates will demonstrate sensitivity to how diverse cultural backgrounds or environments have affected studentsí lives. They will demonstrate empathy even as they encourage change.

Real Life Issues CI and the NCATE Diversity Standard

We believe that development of Curriculum Infusion of Real Life Issues programs at Colleges of Education is a very effective way to meet NCATE Standard 4: Diversity. The NCATE Standard calls for candidates to develop a knowledge base and learn to effectively interact with exceptional students and families from different ethnic, racial, gender, socioeconomic, language and religious groups. A goal of the NCATE Diversity Standard is “the development of educators who can teach from multicultural and global perspectives that draw on the histories, experiences and representations of students from diverse cultural backgrounds” and “acquire the ability to develop meaningful learning experiences for all students.” The standard also calls for curriculum, clinical and field experience that promotes candidates' knowledge, skills and professional dispositions related to diversity.

A well developed Real Life Issues CI program meets all of the goals established by the standard.

  • Participating faculty and students establish a knowledge base in the areas of diversity

  • Students apply their knowledge of the areas of diversity in the development of Real Life Issues CI lessons/lesson plans and in their clinical and field experience

  • Effective delivery of Real Life Issue CI actively involves k-12 students, drawing on their life experience

  • The extent to which development and delivery of Real Life Issues CI reflects knowledge and sensitivity in relation to issues of diversity is part of the assessment of the education major’s progress

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Last update 03/103/2014