A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

3) Are There Forms of Education That are Specifically Suited for the Education of Different Cultures?

The hypothesis of cultural compatibility (Tharp 1989b) suggests that education is more effective when compatible with culture patterns. The hypothesis has an extensive and growing research base in child education (Tharp, 1989a), a modest one in child mental health (Tharp, 1991), and a beginning in child-community psychology (O'Donnell & Tharp, 1990). In all these fields, the issues are present in substantially the same terms. Three forms of the compatibility hypothesis exist. The strong form, or culturally-specific version, suggests that the most effective interventions for different cultures will be different and specific (if not unique) to cultures. Proponents are associated with the effort to derive culturally-based modalities or variations of education.

A weaker form is the two-type hypothesis, which suggests that there are two types of cultures, and therefore two types of most-effective clinical interventions. The first type is the majority, or EuroAmerican, culture; the second type includes those cultures whose students typically experience problems in schools, who are by-and-large "children of color," less industrialized, or urbanized, or western acculturated, and who thus share crucial incompatibilities with standard education and service-delivery practices. In this position, effective treatment strategies for "children of color" would not be critically different from one another. This position is more salient in social work (e.g., Lum, 1986) than in education.

The null form of the cultural-compatibility hypothesis is the universalistic argument that effective pedagogy will follow the same course for members of all cultures. This is the default hypothesis of education, in that the unreflective proceed as though there are no significant differences. A universalist position in education is entirely consistent with universalist theories of psychology, which of course have been predominant since the inception of the discipline. While the evidence for differential effects of standard education on members of different cultures intrudes more and more into consciousness, the default action is to continue to do the same, but harder or longer or more sincerely. Thus in terms of action, the universalist hypothesis is associated with the status quo, or with widely-accepted reform movements such as "restructuring." That is no logical necessity, and as we will see, there is good evidence that if a universalism is to be discovered for pedagogy, it will be of a different kind than is now conventional.

The Nature of the Evidence. A few years ago (Tharp, 1989a) I wrote that the most energy of those interested in African-American educational improvement has been channelled into desegregation, and into equal treatment for all students; and that most Hispanic attempts at education reform have been directed toward issues in bilingualism, particularly toward issues of English acquisition, Spanish use and/or preservation, and improvement both of ESL pedagogy and of school attitudes toward bilingualism. Further, most inquiries into the schooling experiences of Asian-American students have concentrated on parent-child relationships.

The intervening years have produced some changes, though not so many as might have been hoped. There has been added a good level of activity in the study of home-school relationships in Hispanic communities in which the variables and processes present in the home are analyzed for their effects on school success. Notable is this work are Gallimore and his associates (e.g., 1991), Delgado-Gaitan (1987), and emerging studies such as Gibson and her associates (personal communication). Some few studies of the particularities of African-American children in classrooms have been added (e.g., Allen & Boykin, 1991), but this rich research-and-development opportunity (outlined by Shade in 1982) remains largely unexplored, apparently due to the belief by the majority of Afro-American educators that standard education is the only assurance of fair education.

Thus the preponderance of evidence for cultural issues in education came from classrooms of Native Americans in the Western United States and Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii. A major source of theory, research and demonstration was the Kamehameha Early Education Program (KEEP) , which over a 20-year period developed and studied a culturally-compatible K-6 language arts program for children of Hawaiian ancestry (Tharp, Jordan, Speidel, Au, Klein, Sloat, Calkins, & Gallimore, 1984). Effectiveness data have been reported both by the program operators (Tharp & Gallimore, 1988; Klein, 1988; Tharp, 1982; Gallimore, Tharp, Sloat, Klein, & Troy, 1982), and by external experts (e.g., Calfee, Cazden, Duran, Griffin, Martus, & Willis, 1981). The KEEP group also operated a research-and-development site on the Navajo reservation of northern Arizona for six years. Selected because of the sharp contrast of ecocultural setting of the two cultures, Navajo and Hawaiian versions of the KEEP program emerged with clear differences.

In addition there is a broad base of evaluation and program development literature coming from Native American schooling, both in the United States and Canada, which seeks to find ways of teaching and schooling that are compatible with traditional cultures and the current community. A recent review of that material is available (Tharp & Yamauchi, 1991).

The Evidence for the Compatibility Hypothesis. One line of argument for the compatibility hypothesis lies in discovering a minority group whose culturally-based teaching-learning proclivities match well standard schooling practices. The compatibility hypothesis would predict school success for such a group. Chinese children, as described by Wu (1982), would appear to be such a case. Wu emphasizes that, on the basis of traditional culture, Chinese children are highly respectful of writing and written text, are respectful of the teacher as authority, are accustomed to individual, competitive effort, and rely on repetition and practice. These qualities are probably more pronounced in Chinese children than in majority-culture children, for whom (presumably) the standard school was designed. These qualities, nevertheless are virtually defining expectations for standard American schooling, which emphasizes assignment of text, individual assessment, and repetitive practice activities. The high comparative success in schooling of Chinese-American students is consistent with the compatibility hypothesis. Of course, this argument is based on logical analysis; I know of no empirical evidence that bears directly on the issue.

The evidential case for cultural compatibility can be discussed under the headings of the four classes of variables that have been most studied in the conscious tailoring of classrooms to children of different cultures: 1) social organization, 2) sociolinguistics, 3) cognition, and 4) motivation.

Social Organization

The typical North American classroom uses primarily whole-class organization, with rank-and-file seating and a teacher-leader who assigns text, instructs or demonstrates to the whole group, followed by some form of individual practice, and then teacher-organized individual assessment. This system is not the most effective for the students from all cultures. For many it produces a low level of child attention to teachers and classwork, which is disturbing to teachers, who attribute the problem to low academic motivation, rather than to an alien social organization (Tharp & Gallimore, 1976).

In the natal Hawaiian culture, collaboration, cooperation and assisted performance are commonplace. Sibling caretaking is common in Hawaiian socialization, and the sibling group and companion band are ubiquitous social organizations that tend to create their own activities (Gallimore, Boggs, & Jordan, 1974; Boggs, 1985). In the culturally-compatible KEEP program, a small-group classroom organization was designed for Hawaiian children. The teacher engaged in an intense instructional conversation with a small group of students, while the majority of mixed-sex and mixed-ability students worked in independent groups of 4 to 5. A peer teaching-learning interaction occurred there every 3 minutes per child in kindergarten; in the first grade, once every 2.5 minutes (Jordan, l977; l983; l984). The KEEP group, in its comparison study, introduced this identical pattern of classroom organization into a Northern Arizona Navajo classroom, as a modest test of the "two-type" compatibility hypothesis.

Navajo children also worked diligently in the independent work groups ("centers"). However, they worked much more independently, with few instances of offering or requesting peer assistance. Individuality and self-sufficiency of children is not surprising in the Navajo pastoralist culture, where six-year-olds begin to herd sheep far from home, alone. Sibling and peer groups are present in Navajo culture, whenever brothers, sisters or cousins live together, and certainly in ceremonial and other community gatherings, but most are single-sex groups. In adult Navajo society, male and female roles are clearly defined and separate. Around the age of eight, boys and girls are cautioned against playing with each other. In the Navajo classroom, only when the groups were reorganized as same-sex did peer assistance become frequent (Vogt, Jordan, & Tharp, 1987).

Minority children all have social skills and problem solving abilities, though they may take several forms depending on culture. These skills can be brought into play by creating compatible social organizations of the classroom. Ethnographic work in urban black ghetto schools described students' intense and sensitive peer relationships, physical expressiveness, and their skillful manipulations of the behavioral dynamics of their classrooms. The staging of impromptu "dramas," designed to tease, test, and sometimes to intimidate teachers, was a frequent technique (Williams, 1981).

These skills are not developed in ghetto schools but are suppressed and interpreted as delinquency. ...Left undeveloped, these skills get more disruptive...and can reach a level where they appear to be violent rebellions (Williams, 1981, p. 214).

By creating settings using group interaction and competitions, these tendencies can be brought into instructional use. Front-of-the-class performances related to instructional goals, with the balance of the class attentive to discover errors that will allow them to replace the performers, were highly motivating for individual "performers" and "audience" alike (Williams, 1981).

To activate Indian student strengths, small-group problem-solving structures and individual assignments are preferred (Leith & Slentz, 1984). In the effective Athabaskan Indian classrooms studied by Barnhardt (1982), the majority of each school day was spent in individual or small group activities. The teachers moved from student to student, kneeling or squatting down on the floor for lengthy quiet individual discussions. When the teacher raised her voice again it signaled that the larger group was once again part of the audience (Barnhardt, 1982).


The courtesies and conventions of conversation are among the most powerful differentiating elements of culture. Critical differences exist across cultures, and between many cultural groups and the classrooms in which their children are educated. When violations of the expectations of either teacher or children occur, it results in anger, alienation, or withdrawal. The result is often a school diagnosis of "low verbal ability," even for children who in other settings are highly verbal. Some variables studied by sociolinguistics can seem esoteric and inconsequential. But the weight of all those courtesies and conventions of discourse is enormous in determining relationship, learning, and satisfaction in the classroom.

Narrative Style. Michaels (1984) has shown that children of different cultures tell stories in different ways, with startling audience effects. In her study, white children were topic-centered in their narratives, with thematic cohesion and a temporal reference. Black children used a topic-associating style, consisting of a series of implicitly associated anecdotal segments with no explicit statement of an overall theme or point. White adults (including teachers) criticized the topic-associating style as incoherent, but black adults found it interesting with lots of detail and description. It is apparent that this cultural difference in basic language structure can lead to quite different judgments and predictions in the classroom, with consequences often bewildering to both teachers and children.

Wait Time. Wait-time I is the amount of time given by teachers for students to respond to questioning; wait-time II is the amount of time following a student response before the teacher again speaks (Rowe, 1974).

Wait-times are to some degree culture-dependent. White and Tharp (1988) investigated differences in wait-time between an Anglo and a Navajo teacher of the same Navajo third-grade students; the Navajo teacher had considerably longer wait-time II than did the Anglo. What was perceived by the Anglo teacher as a completed response was often intended by the child only as a pause, which the Anglo teacher interrupted. Pueblo Indian children in experimental science classes participated spontaneously twice as frequently in longer wait-time classes than in shorter wait-time classes (Winterton, 1976). Even in college, Indian students report that short wait-time in seminar interactions is still a difficulty for them (Leacock, 1976).

On the other hand, Native Hawaiian children have a characteristic negative wait-time in informal settings, a pattern which produces overlapping speech, and which demonstrates involvement and relationship (White & Tharp, 1988). In classrooms, this is interpreted by other-culture teachers as rude interruption. Schools' attempts to curtail this overlapping speech only results in inhibiting participation of Hawaiian children in instructional activities.

Rhythm. Pioneering work in the sociolinguistic consequences of teacher/child interaction was done by Erickson and Mohatt (1977), in their classic report of an Indian teacher/student classroom that followed a slow, fluid, rhythmic tempo in the presentation of materials, in the voice inflections and vocalization tempo on the parts of both teacher and students, and even in the pace of movement in the classroom. The homes of some of those students revealed similar patterns. When this rhythm went unnoticed and was disrupted by an Anglo teacher, a more disorganized and less efficient pattern of interaction, as well as a lower level of rapport between teacher and students, resulted.

Barnhardt (1982) discovered Athabascan Alaskan classrooms in which Native children were eager to participate, volunteered answers, spoke and read well, and asked questions. She analyzed these classrooms in terms of rhythm patterns of event emphasis (beat), rate (density), and silence (pauses), and found them to be similar to interaction rhythms of the home and community. She argues that the disruptive effects of alien rhythmic structures on children in the classroom may be compared to the distress of listening to music with incomprehensible rhythmic structures.

For Afro-American classrooms, a quite different rhythmic structure has been proposed for promoting teacher-student rapport (Hale, 1982). Hale suggests that effective speech rhythms during instruction by teachers of black children would be much like the rhythmic pattern of mother-child interaction, a "contest" style in which mother and child volley rhythmically. The child is encouraged to be assertive and to develop an individual style. Many Afro-American mothers give directions for household tasks to their children in a rhythm that approximates the call and response patterns found in black music (Young, 1970). Hale (1982) and Wharton-Boyd (1983) both suggest that classroom teaching patterns could be based on these call-and-response children's singing games.

Participation Structures. The KEEP "talk-story" pattern of classroom discourse was developed to counter the phenomenon that in ordinary classrooms, Hawaiian children are "nonverbal," and seldom ask questions. In out-of-school situations, though, there is a social organization that facilitates children's narrative production: a number of children, together with an encouraging, participating, but non-directing adult, in an informal setting. Identified, facilitated, and described by Watson-Gegeo and Boggs (1977), these activity settings found children taking turns as principal speaker, but all the children "co-narrated," with overlapping speech and frequent references to shared experiences. Watson-Gegeo and Boggs (1977) discussed this activity setting in terms of a frequently enjoyed speech event in adult Hawaiian culture, called "talk-story." They also observed that children cannot manage a talk-story session alone until adolescence; in earlier years, an assisting adult is needed.

In an effort to create comparable classroom participation structures that would also produce child fluency and participation, KEEP developed the instructional-conversation format they call Center One. Each day each child meets in a small group with the teacher for a 20-minute discussion of some text. The participation structures of the KEEP Center One lesson resemble those in the Watson-Gegeo narratives and in adult talk-story (Au, 1980; Au & Jordan, 1981). There are rapid-fire responses, liveliness, mutual participation, interruptions, overlapping volunteered speech, and joint narration. Au and Mason (1981) found higher rates of academically productive student behavior in these talk-story-like participation structures.

A sharper contrast could hardly be found than that between the Hawaiian pattern and that of the Navajo culture. Whereas Hawaiian children speak vigorously in shorter bursts of overlapping speech, and the teacher must often be "assertive" in getting the floor, long, patient turn-taking has been the standard description of Native American meetings, from the earliest pow-wows reported by Europeans. In the Navajo version of KEEP instructional conversations, each student speaks for longer periods while other students wait courteously. Ideas are developed with greater leisure, and are often individualistic rather than tied to statements of previous speakers. Navajo children volunteer both questions to the teacher and comments to the group at large.

When school sociolinguistic patterns are incompatible with natal culture patterns--for example, when the teachers use the "switchboard" pattern of interaction--many Indian culture children develop patterns of short answers, interruptions, and silence, which by high school, have calcified into a controlling and resentful repertoire of hostility (Greenbaum & Greenbaum, 1983).

When sociolinguistic school/home compatibilities are present, children are more comfortable, participate, and display their abilities appropriately. Another instance is Lein's study of black migrant children. Teachers found them below grade level and unresponsive. But at home and in the community these same children speak and act in complex and competent ways. At home and at church, the expectations are similar; therefore, at church they exhibit full competence and full participation. This can offer an example to schools of how formal institutions can engage their young by compatibilities of expectations with child repertoires (Lein, 1975).


North American schools expect, and instructional practices presume, a certain pattern of cognitive functioning in students: for example, a tendency toward verbal-analytic thought rather than visual/wholistic. When children correspond to that pattern, they are more likely to succeed in school, and that is the apparent pattern for Japanese- and Chinese-Americans. The available evidence is inferential, but Stevenson, Stigler, Lee, Lucker, Kitamura, & Hsu (1985) studied a cross-national comparative sample of Japanese, Chinese, and white American first- and fifth-grade children. They concluded that children in each culture "have strengths and weaknesses, but by the time they are enrolled in the fifth grade of elementary school, the most notable feature of their performance is the similarity in level, variability, and structure of their scores on the cognitive tasks" (p. 734 ). From the cultural-compatibility point of view, this helps to explain why Japanese-American and Chinese-American students typically hold their own (or better) even as minorities in American schools: the levels and patterns of cognitive skills fit school expectations. Do students from other minorities, those who do not prosper in the schools, have different patterns of cognitive functioning from those expected by schools? The evidence is scattered, and again largely restricted to Native Americans, but differences appear.

Specific cognitive abilities. Internationally, typical school instruction appears to depend more heavily on Verbal and Sequencing skills than on Performance and Spatial skills. Native Americans consistently score in the opposite patterns, that is, higher in Performance than in Verbal abilities, and higher in Spatial than in Sequencing skills (e.g., Browne, 1984; Kaulback, 1984; McShane & Plas, 1982; Gallimore et.al., 1982). However, Native children have improved significantly in sequential memory tasks (Krywaniuk & Das, 1976; More, 1985), and have demonstrated satisfactory progress in text-dominated courses (John-Steiner & Osterreich, 1975), when culturally-compatible instructional features are present. The explanation for differential achievement lies in some interaction of instructional procedures with cognitive proclivities.

Wholistic/visual vs. verbal/analytic thought. Is the explanation in patterning of abilities, or in some system for organizing learning and thought? "Cognitive style" has been a loose construct that various writers have used to refer to such diverse variables as representational structures, sensory modality strengths, processing sequences, incentive valences, attributional probabilities, and implicit judgments of virtue, often bundled together without regard to any theoretical justification (Cazden & Leggett, 1981). Two aspects of cognitive style have suggested some cultural differences. One, field dependence/independence has generated much research on cross-cultural cognition (Witkin, 1967), but has contributed little to educational research and development (Cazden & Leggett (op.cit.)).

A difference that may make a difference is in another "cognitive-style" variable: a visual, as opposed to a verbal, emphasis in perception and representational structures (for reviews see Berry, 1976; Kaulback, 1984; More, 1985; Tharp, in press). A visual emphasis is closely related to wholistic (vs. analytic) thought processes. In wholistic thought, the pieces derive their meaning from the pattern of the whole. In analytic thought, the whole is revealed through the unfolding of the sections. Wholistic comprehension proceeds by incorporating phenomena into ever-expanding circles of context, rather than by reducing phenomena to their disassembled parts (Tharp, in press).

Rather than through analytic and linear means, the concept of wholism may be communicated best by a wholistic device: a "teaching story." Joan Gentles, a Chilcotin Indian educator, has told me how, as a girl, she learned to prepare salmon. After watching her mother, she was allowed to gradually take on portions of the task, and to ask questions only if they were important. Once she told her mother that she didn't understand how to do "the backbone part." So her mother took another entire fish, and repeated the de-boning. It is not possible to fully comprehend the backbone part except in the context of the whole fish (Tharp, 1989, p. xx).

An entire "observation-learning complex" is involved in the kinds of cultural socialization that produces wholistic thinking. The complex includes: observing first, and thus gaining competence before performance; learning-by-doing, rather than through verbal instructions; a centrality of visual cognitive representational structures; and a sociological pattern of children's involvement with adult activities (Cazden & John, 1971; Rogoff, 1986; Tharp, 1989a).

Lipka (1991) provides an analysis of Eskimo teachers' lesson transcripts; they reflect observational learning strategies. Lipka describes the lessons thus:

Activities begin without the customary lengthy verbal introduction Anglos expect . . . The students seem quite comfortable following the modeled behavior. The teacher's instructional style also includes modeling (doing his "own work"), joining in with the students (seated on the floor with the students as he blends into the class), and reinforcing peer-group solidarity and deep respect for individuals.

There is intentionality in his style. For example, there are a few times during the lesson when students will say nutmen (where), and the teacher intentionally ignores the students. He does not want to reinforce dependence on verbal instruction during activities that call for observation. (Lipka, 1991, p. 213-214).

Wholism in the classroom. Even for basic skill literacy and numeracy lessons, it is possible to systematically favor wholistic and visual teaching strategies, by emphasizing whole-story discussions, overarching themes, and by using visual diagrams and metaphors. KEEP has reported that Navajo children often demanded to hear or read a story through to the end before starting discussion (Jordan, Tharp, & Vogt, 1985). In community story-telling, children are not asked to recite details of the story or to dissect it, but are expected to listen quietly to the long telling of stories. Teachers of Indian children who frequently interrupt narrative events with assessment questions produce a sharp cultural discongruity (Phillips,1972, 1983; Wyatt, 1978-79).

John-Steiner & Oesterreich (1975) discuss this same phenomenon among Pueblo children, and provide a link from this interpersonal event to a cognitive style:

Children listening to the many legends of their people learn to represent these visually . . . because they are not allowed to ask questions or verbally reflect on what they hear. They are to say only aeh hae to acknowledge auditory attention. As a result, while the verbal representations of some of these legends are fairly simple nursery tales, the inner representations of the same legends, for older children and adults, are replete with highly abstract visual and symbolic articulations of cultural values. (John-Steiner & Oesterreich, 1975, p. 192).

Every adviser and researcher familiar with Native American education urges the use of wholistic presentations and visual representations during teaching of Native children. These strategies are often advocated by educational reformers for majority culture students, too, though for different reasons. White and Asian children may well need such "training;" whereas Native children may require wholistic and verbal contexts in order to frame the development of analytic and verbal skills. When reading programs are congruent with the "simultaneous" (wholistic) style of Indian children, as opposed to the "successive" style of non-Natives, they can strengthen "successive," or linear, abilities (More, 1985). For example, reading and mathematics instruction, when presented in a visual, wholistic manner, strengthens the students' abilities to read and calculate in a linear, verbal mode.

The more general issue raised by the visual/verbal representations is that of learning through participation of the several sensory modalities. Allen & Boykin (1991) demonstrated that Afro-American primary children, as opposed to Euro-American counterparts, learned a picture-pairing task best in a "High Movement Expressive" context--that is, with an opportunity to move to music during acquisition trials. This study continues Boykin's (1978) interest in Afro-American children's "verve"--a preference for a variety of rapid paced and varied stimulation. Allen & Boykin's important analog study is evidence for cultural differences in school-learning tasks, attributable to differential involvement of sensory modalities.

This is at the heart of Vera John-Steiner's concept of "cognitive diversity:"

In proposing a pluralistic approach to thinking, I have argued that while an individual may have a dominant mode of representation (or internal code), there is no single universal language of thought.. . . there are wide variations among individuals in the extent to which their internal, symbolic codes are based on verbal language, abstract visual schemata, musical representations, or kinesthetic images (see Gardner {1987}) ...the coordinated use of two differing codes can assist a thinker in successfully solving a demanding task, (John-Steiner, in press, p. 73).

Motivation, Trait and State

"Trait" Motivation. Some motivations are relatively consistent, persistent, and supported by parental, community, and cultural reinforcement--these can be considered "trait" motivations. An example that has powerful effects on school outcome can be drawn from the remarkable success and satisfaction with school achieved by recent immigrant Hmong, Vietnamese, and Korean groups--in spite of the fact that 80 percent of these children report language conflicts, prejudice, and teasing from other children. The families, however, tend toward strong beliefs in education, high expectations for school performance, and constant admonitions to study (Hirayama, 1985).

This is reminiscent of Punjabi immigrant families in the California community of "Valleyside, " whose children are highly successful students. They know that failure puts them at risk for being withdrawn from school and put to work in the fields. They are clearly and often told by their families that they bear the responsibility for school success themselves; they must study hard, respect their teachers, stay out of fights with their peers, finish their homework, and generally succeed for the honor of themselves, their families, and the entire Punjabi community (Gibson, 1986).

In many immigrant groups, there is parental emphasis on the welfare of the family as a whole, and the assumption by the student of the moral burden of succeeding for the whole family, if not the whole community. These factors are both characteristic and predictive of success within the Asian groups studied by Hirayama (1985). Suarez-Orozco (1987) discussed the Mexican child's responsibility for the honor of the entire family, and has also described the burden of guilt and responsibility of Central American refugee students in Los Angeles schools, many of whose families have suffered extreme misfortune, and even death, in bringing them to America. Now they must succeed, through education. This is motivation indeed.

While many immigrant groups do succeed in American schools, immigrant status per se does not produce school success. In Hawaii, both Samoan and Filipino immigrant students are at-risk groups for school failure. And school-relevant motivations change as immigrant children learn different motivations in schools themselves, such as competition and individualism (Trueba & Delgado-Gaitan, 1985).

As for more conventional psychological measures of trait motivation, the "Need for Achievement" (NAch) is, among majority culture students, generally associated with school success. Although black, Hispanic, and Hawaiian children's tests often show less need for achievement and more need for affiliation, they do not lack motivation for accomplishment, recognition, and reward. But achievement is more often sought in a context and for the purpose of family and peer-group solidarity and identification, rather than individual and independent attainment (Gallimore, Boggs & Jordan, 1974; Ramirez & Price-Williams, 1976).

"State" Motivation. State motivation refers here to those motivational and incentive variables existing in the classroom itself, and which are manipulable by teachers and program designers. Motivation by interest-level of materials, by contingent reinforcement and punishment, and by teacher relationships may not be crucial for children whose school-motivation is inculcated and continually supported by their own families and community; but these features are often imperative for engaging and managing disaffected, underachieving children. For example, the introduction of supplementary incentives for frequency of reading was more effective for Chicano children than for Anglos (Hosford & Bowles, 1974).

KEEP researchers report on-task rates for their Hawaiian classrooms of 80%+ (Tharp, 1982), which they attribute both to a manipulation of school-based incentives, and to a system of teacher-child relationship developed by close study of Hawaiian children at home and at school (Gallimore, Boggs, & Jordan, 1974). For example, Hawaiian children are highly peer oriented, and indeed are taught not to approach adults except on invitation (Gallimore, Boggs, & Jordan, op.cit.). Therefore every teacher in every class in every year must reestablish her legitimate claim to authority by establishing a warm, firm, but personal and affective link with students.

Among the Navajo, punishment, contingent reward, or any openly manipulative effort to control the behavior of others--including children--is a violation of cultural values. Navajo adults are more reserved in their affectionate displays, but are highly respectful of children's individuality and their rights for self-determination. This is notable in comparing the atmosphere of the two classrooms. The teachers in both KEEP programs maintain high on-task rates, orderly rotations, and excellent compliance. But the Navajo teachers accomplish this while moving through the classroom in what seems, by Hawaiian comparison, virtual silence.

Thus for Navajos, the reinforcing and punishing value of identical teacher behaviors are often reversed from those for Hawaiians. The reinforcing valence of particular classroom conditions and events may also be quite different for Navajo and Hawaiian children. For example, "time-out" from the social interactions of recess or in-class activities is a painful punishment for Hawaiian children. In Navajo classrooms, children are quite content to be alone, and indeed often have to be escorted from one area of school to another to prevent their running away to spend the balance of the school day playing alone.

In summary, there is evidence that cultural differences in social organization, sociolinguistics, cognition, and motivation, when reflected in compatibilities in classroom practices, make for classrooms that are endorsed by culture members and other students of those cultures, are associated with greater child participation and enjoyment, are associated with better school achievement, and produce classrooms that are discernibly different for students of different cultures.

Now let us consider the apparent limitations on the development of specific-culture educational programs. It must be noted that comparatively few have been designed to survive the practicalities of schools. In the culture and education movement, most compatibilities have been established through choosing established modalities which per se allow for greater influence of the child's culture, or at least do not demand incompatible child behavior.

The majority of mental health programs for minority children appear to be using that same tactic: Few specific treatment modalities have been invented (for an exception, see Costantino, Malgady, & Rogler {1986}). Certain modalities, however, are overwhelmingly preferred by therapists knowledgeable of certain cultures; and each instantiation is recommended to be conditioned by the culture. Thus, family therapy is repeatedly recommended for Hispanic children, but the recommendation is equally strong that the family must be treated in ways that reflect that family's composition, values, and language (e.g., Inclan, 1984; Vazquez-Nuttal, Avila-Vivas, & Morales-Barreto, 1984). By electing modalities that naturally include family and community members and/or settings, some compatibility is assured by the objective introduction of the cultural context.

Likewise, the cultural-compatibility movement in education appears to have settled on the "least-change" principle (Tharp, et.al, 1984), which calls not for inventing entire new pedagogies or teaching modalities but the careful selection of modalities of demonstrated effectiveness in real schools and by working teachers. The selection and mix of such modalities may be quite different for children of different cultures, and it is certain that the instantiation of the modalities will be modified by contextualizing them in the experience and language of the children's daily lives.

We may now return to the original question. Are there forms of education that are specifically suited for the treatment of children of different cultures? Yes.


[2) Are Culture Members Privileged in the Capacity to Contribute to the Education of Their Children?] [Table of Contents] [4) Are There Universal Forms of Teaching That Will Equally and Adequately Address Classrooms of Students of Diverse Cultures? ]