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elSassy1 elSassy1 is offline
 
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Cultural Issue
Old 01-03-2011, 01:17 PM
 
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I have a student in 6th grade who is from Africa. He has some other siblings in the district, as well. They are from Tanzania/Kenya. I have had him since the start of December and I have run into a very culturally specific problem (I think).
He does not do ANYTHING for me. He does not respond, he looks blank, he ignores requests and does not follow directions. He does not do any work for me, and always sits there in complete silence.
He is receiving ESL services and visits me for reading and language arts help. His classroom teacher has the same problems, as does our female art and music teachers, and our female principal. HOWEVER, the only two teachers in the school who are male -- P.E., and one sixth grade teacher -- never have any issues with him whatsoever. We are stumped as to how to get this student to respond to us! I think this is a cultural thing, because he has referred to the 'mister' who taught him before and how smart the 'mister' was. He also has been heard to make comments on how the man is the hard worker and the man is the teacher.
Has anyone encountered this before or does anyone have any solutions or ideas?! Thanks!


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Old 01-03-2011, 08:43 PM
 
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Have you spoken with the child's parents? It sounds like a cultural difficulty that will need parent intervention in order to be solved. I would advise speaking with the father if possible. Be straight forward
"your child is refusing to do work in my classroom, he has indicated a difficulty conforming to the fact that the majority of teachers in the public schools in the US are female, in order for him to succeed he needs to be respectful and do the necessary work whether the teacher is female or male."
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Old 01-04-2011, 03:38 AM
 
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While I agree with EarthMonkey that you need to talk to the child's parents and I do think the father is probably the best choice, I might do a little pre-planning by chatting with his siblings to get a feel for how much of this is cultural and how much of this is family beliefs.

Are you absolutely sure it is behavioral? It seems like a pretty extreme behavior, but it could be that he has particular issues with performing academically. The other teachers (gym and a guy who is not his actual teacher and I'm guessing is called in for behavioral support) might not feel as threatening to him.

Good luck.
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:00 AM
 
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The sixth grade male teacher is this student's teacher for science and social studies (sixth grade is pseudo-departmentalized). The parents are not particularly helpful at this point. They have told translator that their children were taught manners correctly and that we are not understanding that they do not originally come from this country and believe different things. While I understand that and have great respect for other cultures, the boy needs to get an education (why else is he in school?) and he is not doing this while he is silently defying us.
I have also spoken with the teachers at his last school. He came from another state, where he had been since April. They had encountered the same problems.
I don't consider it behavior -- in that I mean he is never anything less than unfailingly polite but completely unresponsive. He does nto disrupt, but sits in total silence.
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Old 01-04-2011, 02:46 PM
 
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Perhaps the two male teachers that he responds to could have a talk with him about it. That, plus, if he doesn't do any work -- he fails, correct? Perhaps a male principal or a 'higher' up male needs to have a talk with him (and his parents). How long have they been in country? I would take it from the standpoint of -- well, I know that you came from Africa where XX is OK -- but you are in America NOW and in American we respect both males and females in authority. I respect cultural differences as well, but seriously, he is not being 'polite' if he refuses to do as asked. He is being disrespectful.


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google earth
Old 01-04-2011, 02:59 PM
 
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To get him talking.... look up the city he's from on Google Earth. Get him talking about his country, he can tell the other kids about it. I know when I did this with my ELL kiddos, they were talking up a storm! My whole class is ESL, so they could speak the language with the newcomers.

Maybe once he's out of his shell, he will start doing things for you?
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be his friend
Old 01-27-2011, 01:58 PM
 
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maybe some other kids are picking on him and he dosnt have a friend. You should talk to him and find out if anything is going on about him. Maybe even find out if someone is picking on him if you fix that he might think that you are as big of an authority as those male teachers are. Have
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Lots of Patience & Understanding...
Old 01-27-2011, 02:10 PM
 
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I don't think talking to the parents would necessarily accomplish anything. I'm assuming they are Tanzanian/Kenyan as well and are probably operating under the same worldview.

My husband taught in an ESL class once with a student from Africa (I forget the country) and he was having problems at school. Apparently in the village he was from he was considered a man as he had accomplished the right of passage in killing a lion. As a man he could do what he wanted so at the school he was having serious behavior issues, particularly in respect to how he treated female students and teachers.

One thing that might work would be to find someone he does respect and have him talk to him. Especially fruitful if you could find someone from his same people group who could talk to him in their native language and help him understand how things work in schools here in USA. Often there are organizations (like public ESL classes, relocation/refugee offices) that could connect you with someone that could talk to this young man.

Or perhaps taking an interest in his culture - let him do a presentation to the class where he talks about life back home? If would do it, at least he'd be participating in something.
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