What was with the Goebel article? That was certainly not a pleasant thing to sit through. Instead of naming it "'Who Are All These People?'" it should have been "The Reasons Why You Will Be A Terrible Teacher." This article came from the University of Utah, and we all know my recent experiences with things from Utah.
I mean, come on, the first section talks about all the ways that a student, even if they're from similar races and ethnicities, is so entirely different from everyone else in a classroom and we as teachers need to accomodate for that. I feel like some of these articles seriously over analyze the situation. At the end of the day, the students are all moody, confused and struggling. They may be feeling this way for different reasons, yes, but nevertheless, they are experiencing similar feelings and attitudes.
I sometimes worry that in the process of attempting to create and build a curriculum around each individual student, we are losing sight of giving students an ability to adapt, change perspectives and understand each other. When we focus so much on an individual and how that one person learns, that person then doesn't see that other people learn differently. They don't understand that other people have equally important needs, they lose the ability to share in understanding and asking for help from peers. In some ways I think it even encourages a student to feel the opposite of its goal. That is, instead of helping students to feel accepted in general society, they may feel even more isolated and unusual.
Students are durable creatures too, believe it or not. Keeping an open communication with your students that invites feedback and clarification will help to eliminate most conflicts in dealing with different cultural backgrounds. Encouraging understanding when mistakes are made as well as correcting when necessary will help the student to understand that not everytime someone says something wrong, it's meant to be offensive. I understand that I am a white middle class woman with absolutely no difficulties or personal challenges of my own as such, but I didn't fly off the handle or completely shut down when someone asked if I was German, or thought lefse was German, or funnier yet, when someone asked if I was Asian (you would be shocked to know how often that happens).
I worry that when we start to bring up differences and expressing uniquenss and individuality it makes people develop a belief that they are incapable of being understood and these mistakes (within reason, of course) are reasons to become angry and expect to be treated differently, which is a little contradictory of what it means to be created equal. And yes, I do know that this is not always the case, and some people are stupid and ignorant and can't be changed and that is offensive. I'm not arguing against that. I'm saying that for the vast majority of the population, this shouldn't be a problem, and drawing attention to life's frequent awkward moments is making a small barrier even greater to pass.