It is impossible for teachers and instructors to ignore the group identities present in the classroom because they are distinct and will always be noticeable. Whatever the nature might be, students who have more than just a simple class relationship with each other will tend to band together in class. Consider Susanna Ashton’s situation, only when she saw the difference between the fraternity members and the rest of the class did she get an explanation of why the class was rowdier.
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The problem in recognizing these groups is that it inherently alienates some of them even where that is not the intention. Bich Minh Nguyen’s example of how a teacher once referred to a friend of hers as a ‘foreigner’ is an example of how racial stereotypes are connived and spread. The teacher has power over the learning of the student, whatever their background or current affiliations, and unless there is something to be gained academically from recognizing student’s identity, then it should be avoided as much as possible.
It can be argued that there is more to be gained if the situation is handled with its unique nature. In Ashton’s case for example, her recognition of the fraternity was right because they were a band that was nearly unbreakable and they had an effect on everyone’s learning and integration. None of her recognition was even close to discrimination, thus the teacher who appreciates the uniqueness of the situation and acts accordingly will achieve more in class. On the other hand, handling international students should be handled with care because it will impact on how the students already view the other student. The great teacher will study his or her class, and identify the positives and negatives of recognizing distinct student identities.
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