Role of Study Abroad in Preparing Globally Responsible Teachers and Students
According to the research, most of the pre-service teachers that belong to middle class, are White and speak only the English language. Along with this the research further shows that these teachers usually don't really know much about the culture, background or life style of the non-White students due to lack of exposure (Sleeter, 2008). Majority of these teachers also don't make an effort to try and expand their knowledge or re-confirm the facts that they think they already know about these non-White students with regards to their beliefs, culture etc. (Ladson-Billings, 2007).
Also, these pre-service teachers don't make an effort to get involved in the political, social and historical issues which would help them in understanding the inequality that exists in the society towards people belonging to other groups and ethnicities (Jennings, 2002). It is therefore the purpose of teacher preparation programs for multicultural education to make these teachers aware of all these issues with the help of various exercises that would allow them to critically analyze not only themselves but also other groups. This is done with the help of various exercises such as study abroad programs, cross-cultural field experiences as well as course work (Sharma, 2009)(Sharma, et al., 2011).
The main aim of the study abroad programs is to make the pre-service teachers competent multiculturally. These programs have increased a lot in the United States (Kitsantas, 2004). In simple words multicultural competency means the ability of a teacher to challenge some piece of information or observation regarding a particular ethnicity or culture which might lead to discrimination or bias towards that group and deny it with facts. By doing this the teacher will be able to stop what might be the start of a long lasting hostility in the class. Therefore, by being multiculturally competent a teacher knows the need and requirements of his/her students and acts accordingly so that all the students within that class have a positive attitude towards one another (Nieto & Bode, 2008).
Evidence shows that after returning from studying abroad programs the teachers become more open and willing to take part in the situations involving cultural differences (Garii, 2009). Studying abroad programs are of great significance in the preparation or training of the pre-service teachers however, research shows that they don't ensure that the teachers will become multicuturally competent (Phillion, Malewski, Rodriguez, Shirley, Kulago, & Bulington2008). It is however, shown through research that multicultural competency in the field of learning and teaching is promoted through the proper practice of systematic inquiry (Husu, Toom, & Patrikainen 2008)(Sharma, et al., 2011).
A Major Challenge in Teacher Education: How to Work with Diverse Students
Keeping the study abroad programs in mind the educational institutes for the teachers are now developing programs with related goals. There are 2 main challenges that are addressed by these field experiences and courses that are specific for the teaching profession and are for the pre-service teachers. These are:
The ways through which White, female, middle class students - who are enrolled in the teacher education programs - can be prepared to handle the increasing number of diverse population of students in the classes whom they will be teaching later on (Sleeter, 2001); and,
The ways through which global perspectives can be developed in the pre-service teachers (NCATE, 2008).
There are even some programs that are further trying to make the pre-service teachers aware of the struggle that international students have to face with regards to justice (Bigelow & Peterson, 2002; Malewski&Phillion, in press).
One of the biggest challenges in the teaching profession is making the White pre-service teachers capable enough to work with the diversity that is now found in so many classes (Gay, 2000). It has become a very well-known fact now that the gap between the White females belonging to middle class who are becoming teachers and the low income, underserved immigrant has been widening (Ladson-Billings, 2001). The educational sector has been facing increasing amounts of pressure for the last 3 decades to cater to these issues (Gay, 2000).
There are a number of reforms that have been started by many teacher education institutes and organizations to find a solution to these challenges. For instance, approval of the teacher education programs has been based, by the National Council for the...
With the help of the Study abroad teacher education programs the students that are enrolled in the teacher education programs will be able to experience the diverse environment and will know what it feels like to be studying with students who are from different cultures, religions and backgrounds (Sleeter, 2001)(Phillion, et al., n.d.). This in turn will make these students better teachers in the future as they will be able to relate to their own students easily.
A Major Challenge in Student Education
The challenges that are faced by the Asian students when they move to universities in the United States have been studied in great detail. Through research it has been noticed that mostly the problems faced by the Asian students are related to academics. For instance it has been reported by researchers that mostly the problems faced by these students are: the comprehension of different accents of their professors, reading textbooks in a timely manner, putting down their knowledge in essays (Lin & Yi, 1997), giving presentations, asking various queries from the professors and interacting during the discussions (Coward, 2003; Gebhard, 2010; Han, 2007; Kao & Gansneder, 1995; Liu, 2001)(Gebhard, 2012).
It is indicated by the research that the teachers who go for the studying abroad programs before starting their careers have a lot better understanding of various cultures and ethnicities. These teachers are then able to implement their learning in their own classroom in a lot better manner. However, it is understandable that arranging the exchange programs at such huge scale isn't always possible therefore; the application of courses related to the studying aboard programs can prove to be very beneficial for the students who are studying to become teachers in the future. With the increasing diversity in classrooms especially in United States it has become very important for the pre-service teachers to have some understanding of the multicultural diversity so that they can control the hostile environment in their classes and give all that energy a more positive direction (Mahan & Stachowski, 1990, p. 14)(Phillion, et al., n.d.).
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