A Role for Anthropology in Teacher Preparation

In addition to my work in educator preparation at the University of Florida, I am a member of the Anthropology Education Task Force (AETF) of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). Among other things, our task force is charged with examining the potential role of anthropology in teacher education programs to prepare teachers for working in culturally and linguistically diverse schools. We would greatly appreciate AACTE members’ input on this work, if you are able to take 15-20 minutes from your busy schedule to respond to our survey (see below).

As readers of this blog are aware, the rapid demographic changes sweeping across the United States bring increasing importance to ensuring that teachers are well prepared to teach culturally and linguistically diverse students. AAA is eager to partner with AACTE members in this endeavor, and to demonstrate that key anthropological concepts can play a significant role in helping teachers develop more effective strategies for addressing diverse students’ needs. For example, through its award-winning RACE Project exhibit (http://www.understandingrace.org/), AAA has enabled thousands of teachers and students across the country to deconstruct destructive myths surrounding racial differences. The web site provides numerous thought-provoking activities and curricular materials to engage students in more meaningful classroom dialogues about a topic that has long ruptured our social fabric.

The discipline of anthropology proudly claims a long tradition of research on educational issues within the area of anthropology and education. Prominent anthropologists such as Margaret Mead, John and Beatrice Whiting, George Spindler, and Frederick Erickson have clearly illustrated the close connection between culture and education, the relationship between schooling practices and cultural transmission, and the importance of respecting and valuing diverse human societies across the world.

In their companion document to the National Council of Social Studies C3 (College, Career, and Civic Life) Framework, anthropologists commissioned by AAA explained that their field examines “how societies change; how a society’s beliefs, institutions, and ways of making a living are related to one another; and how individuals are shaped by their cultures and also agents of their own lives.”

Will you help inform our work by responding to our survey by March 7, 2014? All responses will be kept confidential, and a report of the results will be made available on the AAA web site. Please contact me with any questions.

In order to participate, you may either:

  1. Copy and paste the entire link in a web browser:
  2. Click on the following URL and enter the login information (Key) provided below:
    Key: SsRXQTsQVRsPsPsP

The complexities of living in a global world suggest that a greater emphasis on interdisciplinary perspectives will become standard practice in our PK-12 schools, and AAA welcomes the opportunity to work with colleagues across multiple disciplines to prepare students for living in a dynamic and diverse society. On behalf of AETF, we appreciate your participation in this survey and welcome any suggestions for further engagement.

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Catherine Emihovich

Professor, University of Florida College of Education