Use a student’s cultural experience to teach

Use a student's cultural experience to teach

Editor’s Note: Ezinne Anyanwu was one of the two first-place winners in this year’s American Education Week Essay Contest. 

I couldn’t wait to talk to my club, the African Student Union, about my topic, my new educational perspective. This was how I began…

In 2018, my family and I traveled to Nigeria. Throughout the time that I visited, I was with my cousins all the time and they would always tell me to work hard and make our family proud. They would say this so often, yet I was confused about why they stressed this point so frequently. One day, I asked how school was going for them, and they told me that education was so difficult. My cousins needed to pay for school quarterly, which included a uniform, books, tuition, etc, and it was hard to get a job even after graduating from college. I felt so sad about their struggles to get a good education, but they’re still working hard to achieve their goals. My trip showed me that there are people in the world who would trade places with me in a heartbeat, so I shouldn’t take my opportunities for granted. My sense of responsibility means that I will be successful in my academics because my identity as a Nigerian American gives me a unique international perspective that helps me see the value of an education.

Even though everyone in the club was not of African descent, they understood my responsibilities and sense of duty, and the reason I work so hard to achieve my goals.  Education can give us the power to change the world. This starts with educators being more culturally aware of the diversity in the classroom. Cultural teaching is using a student’s cultural experience to shape their teaching, and creating an environment in the classroom that respects all student’s backgrounds. This includes talking with students, asking them questions about their background, and understanding their family life, history, and experiences. This also includes pronouncing student’s names correctly in the classroom and on the intercom. These methods will make students more comfortable, feel valued, and connected in a classroom setting. Banneker is a largely minority school that is full with a lot of diversity and different cultural backgrounds. Being able to incorporate cultural teaching into our learning environment will be able to make students appreciate school more because their cultures are celebrated in a classroom setting.