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The School Culture: Respecting Cultural Diversity Begins at School

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Cultures can be defined and established through many different groups of people; a nation, a religious group, an ethnicity, a state, but it can also be established within small groups such as cities, communities, or even schools. These larger groups play a role in establishing what a school’s culture may become. This is true, because within a school many students with different backgrounds and beliefs come together, thus creating a subculture within the large society. 

In a school, there are many cultures and traditions that are represented within the student population. This setting creates subcultures which allow diversity to cohabitate within a small space setting. This phenomenon is essential to the culture of our schools, because as teachers we try to instill the values of peaceful cohabitation with other subcultures to our students. Additionally, we are respecting the beliefs of others once they are exposed to new cultures or different cultures throughout their lives. 

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Ballantine and Hammack (2012) mentioned that culture within a school can be passed on through the use of materials and span all the way over the philosophy of education (p. 40). This means, that every decision that is made from district level, administration level, or even teacher level is shaping the way that a subculture in the school thinks or is formed. It can be said that a school is the subculture of a larger society that encompasses it, however, within a school setting, there are multiple subcultures as well. 

These subcultures within a school can come about from multiple angles. For example, one way that a subculture can be formed is around the beliefs that a particular group within the school hold outside of the school. However, subcultures within a school can also be created by things such as: socioeconomic class, gender, ethnicity, or nationality. And lastly, subcultures within a school can be brought about by the biases or even stereotypes and expectations held by one another in the school setting. 

Ballantine and Hammack (2012) also mention the student culture, which is apparent at schools; the subcultures that show up within students groups differ from the subcultures that would appear in adult subculture groups (p. 197). Some of the influences on student culture can simply be current styles, or even preferred extracurricular activities. According to Ballantine and Hammack (2012), “The student subculture has a strong influence in determining what happens in school” p. 197). This can be said, because student groups tend to pass from one grade level to the next together and evolve through their educational journey with one another. Here is where they learn their purpose as well as their expectations, methods, and coping strategies as each new subculture begins to develop. 

Children spend most of their childhood being surrounded by culture. There is the culture they receive at home through their family, friends, ethnicity, nationality, and religion, but school is another place where they spend a large amount of time. In school, students can and do learn about culture as well. School is a subculture of the larger society around them. However, within the school, subcultures are created as well through stakeholder decisions, outside cultural influence, and student groups. 

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