Competency = Understanding

Those who are culturally competent have reached an unseen level of understanding.  An athlete reaches a level of competency on a competitive stage through successful demonstration of talent.  The incompetent individual lacks the understanding of a specific idea, procedure, action, or element of any distinct, specific concept.  This is not necessarily due to a learning deficiency but a lack of discovery interest for a wide variety of reasons.  In the middle lies the struggling individual.  That person is failing to grasp the objectives required to succeed.  The person might engage with interest equal to a competent person, but since No Child Left Behind commenced in 2001, the notion of testing aptitude was seemingly the only strategy to determine whether the student was learning the material. Evaluative procedure is flawed.  The struggling are lost in the shuffle because a test score said so, and therefore, the efficacy of one student can be forgotten, thus opening a door for an apathetic mindset.

Each student CAN comprehend and be competent.  Rich class, middle class, poor class all are susceptible to failure, unless the attention to testing as a major factor is brushed aside, in favor of a comprehensive, personal, empathetic, collaborative, rubrical technique.  In the new real world of technologically based pedagogy that places critical, qualitative thinking onto a higher plateau than the obsession over quantitative analysis, cooperative learning trumps individual comprehension.  Students must learn how to work alongside one another.  The environment of a library program can assist in guiding and strengthening relationships from all class structures.  The library is a place that does not restrict any learner of all styles (visual, learning, kinesthetic). “Cooperative learning also been shown to improve relationships among students from different ethnic backgrounds” (Lyman & Foyle, 1991).  The bottom line is that cultural competency is a skill set that cannot be nurtured from books or online articles, but experiences though cooperative learning.

In 1968, a teacher in Riceville, Iowa, named Jane Elliott conducted a lesson with her third grade class.  After the asssassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in Memphis, Tennessee, she devised a plan to teach her students about discrimination and predjuice.  Since the town of Riceville was all white, her students had never associated with any other child of color, or any that resided from a different socio-economic class.  The following video is a summary of that lesson where she separated all the students by eye color.  She treated the blue eyed students better than the brown eyed.  All of the blued eyed students were required to treat the brown eyed students as inferior.  This was a controversial method at the time, but effective.  Since being retired from the classroom, she has taken her lesson to universities and corporate offices to help further the understanding of discrimination.  This is an example of a culturally, cooperative project that would result postively,  in a mixed class structured school.  All participants would have a voice. In relation to the distribution of library material on the shelves, cooperative learning would create a new interest into students wanting to read fiction works from all cultures.  Dialogue continues and flourishes.


Work Cited

Lyman, L., & Foyle, H. C. (1991). ERIC digest: Cooperative learning strategies and children. Emergency Librarian, 1934-35


Author: Kyle Greenwood

Certified Library Media Specialist from Coatesville, PA B.A. Journ '01 Penn State University (GO STATE!) Teachers Certification (Library Science K-12) '07 Kutztown University MLIS '17 San Jose State University, San Jose, CA

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