ERIC Number: ED423325
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1998-Apr
Confronting Culture with Culture: Creating Optimum Learning Environments for Students of Diverse Sociocultural Backgrounds.
Maehr, Martin L.
Years ago the prevailing assumption was that there was something wrong with "unmotivated" minority children, but gradually educators have come to realize that there may be something wrong with the schools, and that it is possible to do something to engage children in learning. Theories of motivation are shifting from thinking about motivation as an internal disposition that differentiates individuals to thinking of motivation in context, with an increasing recognition of the role of purpose in determining how and whether a person invests in a task. The recognition of goals as constructions in context, and the acknowledgment that school policies and practices are critical sources for goal definition lead to goal theory in a cultural perspective. Research on school environments and student goals have indicated that school environments, and possibly psychological environments in general, that stress task goals minimize the negative effects that may be associated with social diversity. Ability goal stresses tend to enhance the negative effects. The principle is that as one puts the focus on self, including one's ethnic and cultural identity, bad things may happen, but putting the focus on the task tends to reduce the role that perceptions of self, over which the teacher has little control, may play in the learning process. The operative advice that emerges is to put the focus on the culture of the school and not the culture of the child. Changing focus on self to focus on task needs and deserves cross-cultural testing, but it seems promising for creating optimum school cultures for children of diverse sociocultural backgrounds. (Contains 2 tables and 51 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Diego, CA, April, 13-17, 1998).