Anth 307 Culture and Education in Global Context

Anth 307 Culture and Education in Global Context

September 8 – December 1, 2010

Instructor:  Lynette Harper, Ph.D.




A cross-cultural analysis of education addressing cultural, social, political, and economic dynamics in North America and abroad. Topics include ethnography in the classroom; critical analysis of multicultural, anti-racist, and indigenous forms of education; theories of cultural difference and production; and practical implications for students and teachers. How do culture, identity, ethnicity, and race influence teaching and learning?

Course textbooks:

Delpit, Lisa D.  1995. Other people’s children: Cultural conflict in the classroom (2006 edition).  New York: New Press.  (Also available on VIU Library RESERVE – one-day loan  LC1099.3 D45 1995)

COURSE READING PACKAGE : All required readings may be purchased at the VIU Bookstore.  (Also available on VIU Library RESERVE – 2-hour loan XS 3662)

Assignment overview:

25% Reflective Notes (due Sept.29, Oct.27, & Dec.1)

25%  Family Story Analysis essay (due Nov.17)

25% Take-home essay exam (due Dec. 8)

20% Collaborative Presentation of an assigned article (dates scheduled in outline)

5% Class participation (self-evaluation in class Dec.1)

Course overview

Sept. 8  Ourselves and others: Race, ethnicity and privilege Sept. 8  Introduction, Overview

Sept.15 Foundations of educational anthropology – Continuity & Discontinuity

Sept.22 From student achievement studies to the “Culture of Power”: Socialization and reproduction

Sept.29 Assimilation, discourse and agency: South Africa and Canada

Video:  “The Fallen Feather” (93 min. E96.5 F355 2007) or “Mission School Syndrome”(Part 1/59 min.E96.2 M588 1988 & Part 2/66 min. 

Oct.20 Case studies

Oct. 27 Honing theory: Involuntary and voluntary minorities, essentialism, agency

Nov.17  Class, gender, sexual orientation

Nov. 24 Review



25%  Take Home exam    Distributed in class Dec.1; due December 8


25% Reflective Notes   (due Sept.29, Oct.27, and Dec.1)

Notes are NOT to be a summary or description only.  Be reflective and support your opinion. If possible, incorporate anthropological ideas from discussions and readings.  Proper grammar and spelling are appreciated, though this will not affect your marks as long as your writing is legible.

#1  Reflect on at least three required readings articles (minimum 1 page per article)

#2  a) Compare and contrast two articles presented by students in class, using anthropological concepts and theories (minimum 2 pages of reflection on two presented articles)

b) Reflect on at least one video shown in class (Sept. 29 or Oct. 20)

#3  Reflections on at least two class articles, videos, or guest speakers from class (minimum 1 page per reflection).

Evaluation criteria: 

A good Reflective Note meets the assigned guidelines above (or explains your alternative approach), and

– demonstrates accurate understanding and application of concepts from class & readings. 

– fully explains ideas, opinions and assumptions, in depth and with details

– raises thoughtful questions and describes new understandings when relevant


25% Family story analysis  (6-10 typed pages, double-spaced)   Due June 9

A description and analysis of particular aspects of your family story, if possible for three generations (eg. yourself, parents, grandparents).  Anthropology recognizes diverse family forms; if you are uncertain about how to define or describe your family, please discuss with the instructor.  This assignment does NOT require a family tree or detailed genealogical research.

You are expected to use relevant concepts and ideas from class discussions and readings to analyze what you know of these aspects of your own family story:

  • Describe ethnic, social, cultural and religious backgrounds; geographical and social mobility; languages spoken – and analyze how these have influenced your own cultural and social identity, and attitudes towards other ethnic/racial groups
  • Describe what you know of family attitudes towards education and schooling, and analyze how these may have influenced your own attitudes
  • Use appropriate theoretical frameworks from class for your descriptions and analysis


20% Collaborative presentation (approximately 30 – 40 minutes long)

Groups of 3 students will collaboratively prepare and present one of the assigned readings below to the class, on the scheduled dates.  Groups and reading assignments will be assigned during the Sept.22 session.  A group mark will be awarded based on instructor, peer, and self-evaluations.

Note: Your group is responsible for teaching this article to the class. Recommendations for group process:

  1. Read, summarize and analyze the article independently.
  2. Then meet with your group to identify the major themes and ideas, and decide how to focus your presentation.  (For a better presentation, and better marks, avoid splitting the article up and working entirely independently until the day of presentation! Instead, coordinate your ideas and activities.)
  3. Work together to develop meaningful and varied activities that combine quality with some active student involvement.  The article’s content should be presented clearly, and linked with concepts from other readings, discussions, and/or examples from your personal experiences.
  4. Prepare a summary of the article for distribution to class members. Bring enough copies for all class members, or submit original to instructor at least 2 days before class for photocopying.

Evaluation criteria

-well organized (clear purpose, presentation, management, and coordination)

-actively involves class members in activities and/or discussion (e.g. forums, slide shows, role plays, small group activities, questioning strategies, etc.) – be creative!

-variety and quality in teaching and learning activities 

-presents content and context clearly and effectively; summarizes key points

-relates to personal experiences and/or concepts from other readings and class discussions 

-provides a challenging, enjoyable, interesting, and meaningful learning experience

Articles for Collaborative Presentations:

  1. Foley, Douglas E.  1996.  The silent Indian as cultural production.  In B.A. Levinson, D.E.Foley, and D.C.Holland (Eds.), The cultural production of the educated person: Critical ethnographies of schooling and social practice, pp.71-91.  Albany: University of New York Press.  (in coursepack)
  2. Eder, Donna J. 2007.  Bringing Navajo storytelling practices into schools: The importance of maintaining cultural integrity.  Anthropology and education quarterly, 38(3), pp.278-296. (in coursepack)
  3. Delpit, Lisa D.  1995. Other people’s children: Cultural conflict in the classroom.  New York: New Press.  (textbook) “Lessons from Home and Abroad” and Viles Tokples” pp.73-90
  4. Paradise, Ruth, de Haan, Mariette.  2009.  Responsibility and reciprocity: Social organization of Mazahua learning practices.  Anthropology and education quarterly, 40(2), pp.187-204.
  5. Tassinari, Antonella I., Cohn, Clarice.  “Opening to the other”: Schooling among the Karipuna and Mebengokre-Xikrin of Brazil.  Anthropology and education quarterly, 40(2), pp.150-169.
  6. Castagno, Angelina E.  2008.  “I don’t want to hear that!”: Legitimating whiteness through silence in schools.  Anthropology and education quarterly, 39(3), pp. 314-333. (in coursepack)
  7. Hurd, Clayton A.  2008.  Cinco de Mayo, Normative Whiteness, and the marginalization of Mexican-descent students.  Anthropology and education quarterly, 39(3), pp.293-313.
  8. Nozaki, Yoshiko.  2000.  Essentializing Dilemma and multiculturalist pedagogy:  An ethnographic study of Japanese children in a U.S. school.  Anthropology and education quarterly, 31 (3), pp.355-380.
  9. Zine, Jasmin.  2001.  Redefining resistance: towards and Islamic subculture in schools.  Race ethnicity and education, 3 (3), pp.293-316.  (in coursepack)
  10. Oikonomidoy, Eleni.  2007. “I see myself as a different person who [has] acquired a lot” :Somali female students’ journeys to belonging.  Intercultural education, 18(1), pp. 15-27.
  11. Purcell-Gates, Victoria.  2002.  “. . . As soon as she opened her mouth!” Issues of language, literacy, and power.  In Lisa Delpit (Ed.), The skin that we speak, pp.121-141.  New York: New Press.
  12. Smardon, Regina.  2008.  Broken brains and broken homes: The meaning of special education in an Appalachian community. Anthropology and education quarterly, 39(2), pp.161-180.