Cultural Biography

“Before we can begin to understand others, however, we need to understand ourselves and what we bring to our interactions with others. For this reason, it is important for teachers interested in learning more about other cultural groups to first look inward” (Hidalgo, 1993, p.99).TESOL/CAEP Standards Addressed by the AssignmentStandard 2 – Culture As It Affects Student Learning: Candidates know, understand, and use major concepts, principles, theories, and research related to the nature and role of culture and cultural groups to construct supportive learning environments for ELLs.OverviewIn this assignment, you will describe, analyze, and reflect on the deep-rooted, cultural features of your own background. This is as personal as an academic assignment can get, so be conscious of your comfort level when choosing the experience(s) you wish to share. At the same time, this assignment is meant to provide you with the opportunity to look at your experiences honestly and sincerely, so you will likely feel some discomfort. Your instructor will appreciate your full and authentic engagement in this task, and please know that only the instructor will be reading your paper.As you plan, think of this paper as having three (3) parts: (1) a narrative description, (2) an analysis, and (3) a reflection. Your cultural autobiography should be 3 to 5 double-space typed pages following APA format (reference page not included in this number). Include a short, clear introduction paragraph to introduce your main thesis, and then follow the introduction paragraph with the three (3) main sections of your paper. Please use the following three (3) subheadings (after your introduction paragraph) to organize your paper. Make sure to have a consistent ‘thread’ or thesis/argument through your paper, and please proofread! Narrative of Important Experiences (1-2 pages)First, narrate the experiences that you consider significant in shaping your ‘lens’ (aka worldview). You may include typical or exceptional events from your childhood, school years, religious life, family life, encounters with individuals of various backgrounds, etc. You may also want to think about how your race, ethnicity, class, family background, religious beliefs, and/or gender may have shaped your life. Rather than providing a “laundry list” of experiences and elements of your identity, choose one (1) or two (2) experiences to discuss, that are most salient to your worldview and work as an ESL/bilingual teacher.The following questions might help as you think of some things to write about: What experiences have you had in life or in school that made you realize something important about how you view the world? What experience have you had that made you change your views of other cultures, races, genders, religions, etc., and what does this say about how you were raised? What experiences have you (or someone you know) had with racism or other forms of discrimination?
How were gender roles defined for you in your upbringing or during a certain life experience (i.e. sports, extracurricular activities, jobs)? Were there different expectations for women and men in your family or in other contexts? How does the neighborhood you live in (or lived in) illuminate distinctions between your race and socio-economic status (SES) or the race and SES of your friends, colleagues and acquaintances? How did your native language affect your schooling experiences or interactions with native or non-native English speakers? How does your ability or disability affect your experiences in school or in other contexts? What is a clear example of a time when you drew on some element of your identity, culture to interpret your experiences and/or shape your social behavior that you later found out was incorrect, or you realized was inappropriate for the situation/context/culture? When and how did you come to recognize the implicit power attributed to and unequally assigned to cultural groups in the US? Describe a time when you were a minority/minoritized, and it made you uncomfortable. How did you react, and how would you react now, based on your learning in this course? What does this tell you about the fundamental assumptions with which you were raised? Analysis of Important Experiences (2 pages)Second, analyze how this/these events and elements of your identity have shaped your standards for thinking, valuing, behaving, and evaluating (Goodenough, 1981). Interpret the cultural meanings of your experiences. Draw on our readings by citing/paraphrasing them to support and justify your analysis. Make sure to cite your sources properly using APA formatting.The following questions should guide your analysis: How have these experiences shaped who I am and the way(s) that I understand the world? How does my narrative illuminate aspects of my culture and my cultural identity? How does my cultural background influence how I perceive and understand others?Throughout your essay, make at least three (3) explicit connections from a minimum of three (3) different sources to the course readings, lectures, and/or class discussions. Make sure to cite your sources properly using APA formatting within your paper, and reference the full citations on a separate Reference page (not included in the page limit for this assignment).Reflection (1-2 paragraphs)Finally, briefly reflect on the process of writing this cultural autobiography. Draw on our readings by citing/paraphrasing them to support/justify your reflection. Make sure to cite your sources properly using APA formatting. The following questions should guide your reflection: What has this process helped you to discover about your identity and your future as a teacher? How do our values influence our behavior toward children? How do we think about differences in children, and do we implicitly relate difference to deficiency?Tips Make sure to read the grading rubric for further details and expectations (below). Make sure use the weekly readings to help you write this assignment.