A critical analysis of the work edited by Elizabeth Hatton called Understanding TEACHING: Curriculum and the social context of schooling

Essay by richardvanraayUniversity, Ph.D. May 2008

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To understand teaching requires understanding that classrooms are not isolated from the world. The classroom is comprised of members from different families, students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and nationalities. It is the complex potpourri of personas and cultures, which make a classroom an exciting place to teach and learn. Hatton (1994) asserts that this medley is in all probability overseen by a white female from an upper-middle class family. Hatton (1994) puts forward the opinion that many of these teachers unconsciously bring into the classroom attitudes developed through their own education, socialisation and culture. These social and cultural influences on teachers affect their attitude to teaching and to their students.

Hatton (1994) draws on Critcher (1976) to define culture as the way people think and act as well as their beliefs about morals. Hatton (1994) reminds us that cultures contain subcultures which are affected by individual socio-economic standing as well as one's race, gender and level of education.

This results in a cultural conglomerate, to use an expression from Jo-Anne Cunningham (Discussion posting 11 March, 2008). Lehman, Chiu, and Schaller (2004) suggest a definition of culture is that it "represents a coalescence of discrete behavioural norms and cognitions shared by individuals within some definable population that are distinct from those shared within other populations" (p.690).

Today teachers walk into classrooms with children who represent an incredibly wide range of cultures (Ladson-Billings, 2001, cited in Milner & Smithey, 2003). This is reflected in the MyLo discussion postings where fellow students discussed the variety of schools, children and social problems they encounter. Some of these differences include not only race but disabled students, (K. Charleston, 6 April 2008; M. Brownlea, 16 March 2008) students of lower socio-economic status, (J. Flakemore, 4 April; G. Martin, 12 April, 2008) students from rural backgrounds, (K.