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ERIC Number: EJ887740
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jan
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0094-0771
Bridging a Cultural Divide with Literature about Arabs and Arab Americans
Al-Hazza, Tami Craft; Bucher, Katherine T.
Middle School Journal (J1), v41 n3 p4-11 Jan 2010
Middle school is a time of many changes for young adolescents. They are "searching for individual identity, struggling with society's norms, and grappling with moral issues." They are changing and maturing physically, cognitively, socially, and psychologically as they develop their identities; establish, maintain, and end friendships and social networks; develop interpersonal skills; build self-esteem; and critically examine themselves and their physical features. They may explore different behaviors, ideas, and beliefs, and they may undergo crises of identity. Young adolescents are also involved in a series of changes imposed by the structure of the educational system as they transition from elementary school and begin anticipating a transition to high school. While all young adolescents may feel developmental and transitional pressures, minority and immigrant students may feel these pressures more acutely than most majority students. While students who are actively engaged in school may be somewhat protected from transitional problems, many minority students have feelings of detachment from the education system. Another area of concern for minority students involves the development of identity and self-esteem. As young adolescents mature, they begin to develop a sense of cultural and social identity as well as a sense of personal identity and self-esteem. While politics, economics, relationships, and public perceptions affect identity, identity development is also an "interplay with race, ethnicity, (and) religion." These issues may be especially acute for young adolescents of Arab descent who may possess feelings of detachment. Although many Arab Americans have traditionally been successful in school, academic success is not always a predictor of psychosocial adjustment. Students may have high grades that mask feelings of depression and low self-esteem. Schools are key socialization and acculturization agencies, and a student's perception of acceptance in school is a major factor in his or her overall adjustment to a new culture. Because of these factors, teachers must ensure that Arab-American students have positive school experiences, especially during the critical developmental period of young adolescence. In this article, the authors provide information to help middle school teachers understand the Arab immigrant and Arab-American young adolescents in their classrooms. After briefly describing Arab history and culture and discussing specific problems facing Arab American and Arab immigrant students, the authors suggest literature about Arabs and Arab Americans to use in the middle school curriculum and place in the school library media center. (Contains 1 figure.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A