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Expanding your horizons.

As a teacher of beginning and experienced elementary and middle school teachers, I am constantly reflecting on my own classroom practices and how they affect my students. The majority of my students serve populations from small, rural, Southern districts. One of my major concerns is the limited experience my students have in interacting with people from other cultures, In the surrounding counties served by my students, Spanish is spoken by approximately 10,000 families, The majority of these families speak only Spanish within the home, and the elementary or middle school student becomes the translator for the family. While these numbers may seem small compared to large urban areas, it is a major challenge in our area. Beginning and experienced teachers need to study and interact with a multitude of various cultures. Case studies and textbook instruction can provide initial instruction in various aspects of different cultures, but they cannot take the place of actual experience.

I encourage my students to travel as much as they possibly can as a way to expand their horizons. I also encourage them to expand beyond the "tourist" areas and to truly experience the local cultures of an area. Many of my students (teachers) have never traveled beyond the boundaries of our state, South Carolina. A teacher who is unable to "see" will find it very difficult to open children's eyes.

Most universities offer summer study abroad programs in many different countries. I would encourage teachers of any age to participate in at least one such program during their career. I agree with Miriam

Beard's statement that "travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on deep and permanent in the ideas of living."

This change in a classroom teacher's perceptions will not only enhance his/her understanding of various cultures, but also will help open the eyes of all his/her students.

Please contact me about how your area encourages teachers to broaden their experiences in understanding multiple cultures. I think this would be interesting for all ACEI members to share. I wish you much success as the new school year begins.
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Title Annotation:Vice President's Vista
Author:Hunter, Jill
Publication:Childhood Education
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2004
Words:355
Previous Article:ACEI awards program.
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