This Book I’m Reading… Including Diverse Books in the Classroom

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Photo by Bailey Blair.

When the term diversity comes to mind, there are often groups that are on the forefront of popular cultural narratives. Groups and topics range in race, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, etc.; however, every time I hear the word diversity I think of people who identify as African Americans, Latinos, or LGBTQA+. This isn’t a fraction of the amount of diversity found in our classrooms, or throughout the world. Because of this, I decided to expand my understanding of a diverse culture that I do not know much about. In addition, I wanted to find another book that high school teachers may find valuable to give to students.

In a world of social media and ever-changing news, what comes of the groups who don’t get as much spotlight? The groups that don’t have majors or minors in colleges dedicated to them. The cultures that never get represented in our classroom literature. Are they less important? There are Asian Studies, African American Studies, Latin American Studies, and Women’s Studies. Is this comprehensive enough because these are the tokenized and poster groups for diverse cultures? Is it enough to only teach literature that represents these groups. It is important for us to expand our understanding of the term diversity, and we must begin to educate ourselves about others who aren’t part of the popular diverse groups (ironically). We need to educate ourselves, so we can better educate students.

To do this, I decided to read a book about a culture I do not know much about. I am reading a novel about Indian society titled Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man by U.R. Ananthamurthy ಯು. ಆರ್. ಅನ೦ತಮೂರ್ತಿ, and translated by A.K. Ramanujan. U.R. Ananthanmurthy was admired by many.

 

I did not learn much about India or Indian culture in my own schooling. The only time I learned about India was in economics class in relation to the concept of outsourcing. This topic is unimportant to Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man since it takes place in the early 20th century, but outsourcing gives background to our current relationship with India. There are both positives and negatives associated with outsourcing, and many people have different opinions on this practice.

  • “The main reason is money. In the United States, a typical chip designer earns about $7,000 per month; in India, she earns about $1,000.” – Pink, 2006, p. 38
  • “One out of ten jobs in the U.S. computer, software, and information technology company will move overseas in the next two years. One in four IT jobs will be offshored by 2010.” – Pink, 2006, p. 39
  • As of 2015, 1,430,000,000 jobs were outsourced to India – Job Overseas Outsourcing Statistics

So, if we have such an intricate and important relationship with India, and have Indian students in our classes, isn’t it essential to understand the culture? What are the common beliefs, practices, and characteristics of India? This book will allow me to gain a better insight of something I do not know much about. Although I am not going into a technology based career, I know many people who are and I know many of my future students will as well. This will affect them in their future jobs. We rely on India and India relies on the United States. Our relationship is give-and-take. Because of this, we must form a positive and understanding relationship. One way to do this is to read literature about the culture. I chose Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man because I did not know much about Indian culture and wanted to learn more. I wanted to have a more comprehensive understanding of people who are from India because they have an immense impact on my life.

I also want to learn more about Indian culture for my future students. When I become an elementary school teacher I want to teach my students about different cultures. I feel this is one of the most important aspects of a comprehensive education. To do this, I  must learn about Indian culture, and reading Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man is the first step. In no way is one piece of literature an all-encompassing picture of Indian culture, but it is a start. All knowledge has always begun with a small grain of curiosity for the unknown.

 

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