Cultural Difference and Educational Change in a Sociopolitical Context

  • Sonia Nieto


Sonia Nieto’s chapter points to the significant phenomenon of growing cultural diversity and the challenges it presents for educational change. Reviewing the evidence on ways of learning and what counts as learning in diverse cultures, and on the strong association between various levels of cultural diversity and poverty, Nieto argues that beyond the rhetoric, differences of race, culture, and language are rarely taken very seriously in educational reform efforts. Yet, she shows how taking cultural and linguistic diversity into account in educational reform initiatives, can make a real difference in student learning and achievement — and she outlines numerous, concrete and practical examples of how this can be and sometimes has been achieved.

In the second part of her chapter, Nieto spells out some educational change implications of her findings. She argues for better preservice teacher education that will prepare teachers effectively to work in contexts of diversity; for a more positive view of the strengths to be drawn from cultural difference; for whole-school policies that are sensitive to diversity issues; and for making social justice central rather than peripheral to an educational reform agenda that is currently too preoccupied with other interests and concerns.


Cultural Difference Educational Reform Educational Change School Reform Bilingual Education 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abi-Nader, J. (1993). Meeting the needs of multicultural classrooms: Family values and the motivation of minority students. In M. J. O’Hair & S. Odell (Eds.), Diversity and teaching: Teacher education yearbook (pp. 212–236). Ft. Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  2. Allan, R., & Hill, B. (1995). Multicultural education in Australia: Historical development and current status. In J. A. Banks & C. A. M. Banks (Eds.), Handbook of research on multicultural education, pp. 763–777. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  3. ASPIRA Institute for Policy Research. (1993). Facing the facts: The state of Hispanic education, 1993. Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  4. Au, K. A., & Kawakami, A. J. (1994). Cultural congruence in instruction. In E. R. Hollins, J. E. King, & W. C. Hayman (Eds.), Teaching diverse populations: Formulating a knowledge base, pp. 5–24. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  5. Baker, C. (1993). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism. Clevedon, U.K.: Multilingual Matters, Inc.Google Scholar
  6. Banks, J. A. (1995). Multicultural education: Historical development, dimensions, and practice. In J. A. Banks & C. A. M. Banks (Eds.), Handbook of research on multicultural education. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  7. Banks, J. A. & Lynch, J. (Eds.). (1986). Multicultural education in Western societies. London: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  8. Beare, H., & Boyd, W. L. (Eds.). (1993). Restructuring schools: An international perspective on the movement to transform the control and performance of schools. Washington, DC: The Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bernal, M., Knight, G., Ocampo, K., Garza, C, & Cota, M. (1993). Development of Mexican American identity. In M. Bernal & G. Knight (Eds.), Ethnic identity formation and transmission among Hispanics and other minorities, pp. 31–46. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  10. Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of theory and practice. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Cole, M., Gay, J., Glick, J. A., & Sharp, D. W. (1971). The cultural context of learning and thinking: An exploration in experimental anthropology. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  12. Corbett, H. D., & Wilson, B. (1990). Testing, reform, and rebellion Norwood, NY: Ablex.Google Scholar
  13. Corson, D. (1993). Language, minority education and gender: Linking social justice and power. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters, Ltd.Google Scholar
  14. Cummins, J. (1989). Empowering minority students. Sacramento, CA: California Association for Bilingual Education.Google Scholar
  15. Cummins, J. (1994). From coercive to collaborative relations of power in the teaching of literacy. In B. M. Ferdman, R-M. Weber, & A. Ramírez, (Eds.), Literacy across languages and cultures. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  16. Darder, A. (1991). Culture and power in the classroom: A critical foundation for bicultural education. New York: Bergin & Garvey.Google Scholar
  17. Darling-Hammond, L. (1991). The implications of testing policy for quality and equality. Phi Delta Kappan, 73(3), 220–225.Google Scholar
  18. Delgado-Gaitán, C, & Trueba, H. (1991). Crossing cultural borders: Education for immigrant families in America. London: The Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  19. Delpit, L. (1995). Other people’s children: Cultural conflict in the classroom. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
  20. Deyhle, D. (1995). Navajo youth and Anglo racism: Cultural integrity and resistance. Harvard Educational Review, 65(3), 403–444.Google Scholar
  21. Erickson, F. (1990). Culture, politics, and educational practice. Educational Foundations, 4(2), 21–45.Google Scholar
  22. Figueroa, P. (1995). Multicultural education in the United Kingdom: Historical development and current status. In J. A. Banks & C. A. M. Banks (Eds.), Handbook of research on multicultural education, pp. 778–800. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  23. Fine, M. (1991). Framing dropouts: Notes on the politics of an urban high school. Albany: State University of New York.Google Scholar
  24. Forray, K. R., & Hegedüs, A. T. (1989). Differences in the upbringing and behavior of Romani boys and girls, as seen by teachers. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 10(6), 515–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Seabury Press.Google Scholar
  26. Freire, P. (1985). The politics of education: Culture, power, and liberation. New York: Bergin & Garvey.Google Scholar
  27. Fullan, M. G., & Stiegelbauer, S. (1991). The new meaning of educational change (2nd ed.). New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  28. Gibson, M. A. (1987). The school performance of immigrant minorities: A comparative view. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 18(4), 262–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Giroux, H. A. (1983). Theory and resistance in education: A pedagogy for the opposition. New York: Bergin & Garvey.Google Scholar
  30. Gutierrez, K., Rymes, B., & Larson, J. (1995). Script, counterscript, and underlife in the classroom: James Brown versus Brown v. Board of Education. Harvard Educational Review, 65(3), 445–471.Google Scholar
  31. Hargreaves, A., Earl, L., & Ryan, J. (1996). Schooling for change: Educating young adolescents for tomorrow’s world. London and Philadelphia: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  32. Hartle-Schutte, D. (1993). Literacy development in Navajo homes: Does it lead to success in school? Language Arts, 70(8), 643–654.Google Scholar
  33. Heath, S. B. (1983). Ways with words. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Hoff, G. R. (1995). Multicultural education in Germany: Historical development and current status. In J. A. Banks & C. A. M. Banks (Eds.), pp. 821–838. Handbook of research on multicultural education. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  35. Hollins, E. R., King, J. E., & Hayman, W. C. (Eds.). (1994). Teaching diverse populations: Formulating a knowledge base. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  36. Jalava, A. (1988). Mother tongue and identity: Nobody could see that I was a Finn. In T. Skutnabb-Kangas & J. Cummins (Eds.), Minority education: From shame to struggle, pp. 161–166.Google Scholar
  37. Jordan, B. (1989). Cosmopolitan obstetrics: Some insights from the training of traditional midwives. Social Science and Medicine, 28(9), 925–944.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Knapp, M. S., Shields, P. M., & Turnbull, B. J. (1995). Academic challenge in high-poverty classrooms. Phi Delta Kappan, 76(10), 770–776.Google Scholar
  39. Kohl, H. (1994). ‘I won’t learn from you’ and other thoughts on creative maladjustment. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  40. Kozol, J. (1991) Savage inequalities: Children in America’s schools. New York: Crown.Google Scholar
  41. Ladson-Billings, G. (1994). The dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African American children. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.Google Scholar
  42. Lawrence, S. M., & Tatum, B. D. (forthcoming). White educators as allies: Moving from awareness to action. In M. Fine, L. Weis, L. Powell, & M. Wong (Eds.), Off-White: Critical perspectives on race. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Lucas, T, Henze, R., & Donato, R. (1990). Promoting the success of Latino language-minority students: An exploratory study of six high schools. Harvard Educational Review, 60(3), 315–340.Google Scholar
  44. May, S. (1994). Making multicultural education work. Clevedon, Eng.: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  45. McDermott, R. P. (1977). The cultural context of learning to read. In S. F. Wanat (Ed.), Papers in applied linguistics, 10–18. Linguistics and Reading Series: 1. Arlington, VA: Center for Applied Linguistics.Google Scholar
  46. McIntosh, P. (1988). White privilege and male privilege: A personal account of coming to see correspondences through work in women’s studies. Working paper n. 189. Wellesley, MA: Wellesley College Center for Research on Women.Google Scholar
  47. Moodley, K. A. (1995). Multicultural education in Canada: Historical development and current status. In J. A. Banks & C. A. M. Banks (Eds.), pp. 801–820. Handbook of research on multicultural education. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  48. Moorfield, J. (1987). Implications for schools of research findings in bilingual education. In W. Hirsch (Ed.), Living languages, pp. 31–43. Auckland: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  49. Nieto, S. (1994). Lessons from students on creating a chance to dream. Harvard Educational Review, 64(4), 392–426.Google Scholar
  50. Nieto, S. (1996). Affirming diversity: The sociopolitical context of multicultural education (2nd ed.). White Plains, NY: Longman Publishers.Google Scholar
  51. Nieto, S. (1997). School reform and student academic achievement: A multicultural perspective. In J. A. Banks & C. A. M. Banks (Eds.), Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives, 3rd ed., pp. 387–407. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  52. Ogbu, I U. (1994). Racial stratification and education in the United States: Why inequality persists. Teachers College Record, 96(2), 264–298.Google Scholar
  53. Péerez-Domínguez, S. (1995). The European dimension in education within cultural and ethnic diversity: The challenge of multi-intercultural education. Paper presented at the conference 1996: A Plan for Europe? Politics, Economics, and Culture, sponsored by the AIESEC International and the Foun-tainbleau Youth Foundation, Brussels, September, 1995.Google Scholar
  54. Ramírez, J. D. (1991). Final report: Longitudinal study of structured English immersion strategy, early-exit and late-exit transitional bilingual education programs for language minority children. Washington, DC: Office of Bilingual Education.Google Scholar
  55. Reyes, M. de la Luz (1992). Challenging venerable assumptions: Literacy instruction for linguistically different students. Harvard Educational Review, 62, 427–446.Google Scholar
  56. Rumbaut, R. G., & Ima, K. (1987). The adaptation of Southeast Asian refugee youth: A comparative study. Final Report. San Diego, CA: Office of Refugee Resettlement.Google Scholar
  57. Ryan, W. (1972). Blaming the victim. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  58. Santos Rego, M. A. (Ed.). (1994). Teoría y práctica de la educación intercultural. Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, España: Promociones y publicaciones universitarias.Google Scholar
  59. Sharp, R., & Green, A. (1975). Education and social control: A study in progressive primary education. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  60. Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (1988). Multilingualism and the education of minority children. In T. Skutnabb-Kangas & J. Cummins (Eds.), Minority education: From shame to struggle, pp. 9–44. Clevedon, Eng.: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  61. Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (1990). Legitimating or delegitimating new forms of racism: The role of the researcher. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 11(1 & 2), 77–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Skutnabb-Kangas, T., & Toukomaa, P. (1976). Teaching migrant children’s mother tongue and learning the language of the host country in the context of the socio-cultural situation of the migrant family. Helsinki: Finnish National Commission for UNESCO.Google Scholar
  63. Solomon, R. P. (1995). Beyond prescriptive pedagogy: Teacher inservice education for cultural diversity. Journal of Teacher Education, 46(4), 251–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Stairs, A. (1994). Indigenous ways to go to school: Exploring many visions. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 15(1), 63–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Stubbs, M. (1995). Educational language planning in England and Wales: Multicultural rhetoric and assimilationist assumptions. In O. García & C. Baker (Eds.), Policy and practice in bilingual education: Extending the foundations, pp. 25–39. Clevedon, Eng.: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  66. Tharp, R. G. (1989). Psychocultural variables and constants: Effects on teaching and learning in schools. American Psychologist, 44(2), 349–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Thomas, W. P. and Collier, V. P. (1995). Language-minority student achievement and program effectiveness studies support native language development. NABE News, 18(8), 5, 12.Google Scholar
  68. Troyna, B. (1992). Racism and education. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  69. Vallen, T, & Stijnen, S. (1987). Language and educational success of indigenous and non-indigenous minority students in the Netherlands. Language and Education, 1(2), 109–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Vogt, L. A., Jordan, C, & Tharp, R. G. (1993). Explaining school failure, producing school success: Two cases. In E. Jacob & C. Jordan (Eds.), Minority education: Anthropological Perspectives. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  71. Weinberg, M. (1990). Racism in the United States: A comprehensive classified bibliography. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sonia Nieto
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of MassachusettsUSA

Personalised recommendations