The Spirit Catches You

In the Washington Post article entitled “Lessons Far from Home”, the challenges are described that teachers from the Philippines face teaching in the US public schools. What do you think about these cultural differences? We usually are looking at this issue from the perspective of the students. Is there anything we can learn from the experience of these teachers that would help our clients?


6 Responses to The Spirit Catches You

  1. findingschools says:

    I just finished reading this book and am completely overwhelmed to think of how many other families there are in this country who have suffered through this same cultural clash in regards to something as fragile as someone’s life.

    How many other doctors througout the U.S. know about this, or similar cases and have learned from it? As I was reading the book, I was constantly frustrated asking myself if anyone in the medical field had gone through an experience such as “Ba Fa, Ba Fa” which was then mentioned toward the end of the book. If nothing else, an exercise like this would sensitize the doctors to the fact that no one culture does all things right or wrong, but there are egos, cultural traditions, and scientific proof to juggle and balance.

    In regards to schooling, it opens my eyes to the fact that our clients all have their own stories and personal issues that we may not understand. It will make me more sensitive and raise my interest in learning more about their background and culture before jumping into what they will experience here.

    Lisa Schwarzwald

  2. findingschools says:

    Often parents visiting schools will ask for teachers who are “native english speakers”. The article shows how teachers who do not fit that mould, often offer the children they teach more – by working at 110%. They are more hungry for the opportunity, have more to loose if they offered anything less, and are sincere in what they do. Teaching is often not about books and academics, but about reaching out to a child in other ways. Being away from their own families propels these teachers in to being more compassionate, and emotionally connected to their students.

    A perspective worth pointing out to families undertaking school visits


  3. Marcia says:

    The book was a wonderful lesson in how other cultures differ from our own, and how tolerance and understanding are sometimes overlooked in our daily lives. Sometimes both sides are right, even though they have very different perspectives and are seemingly at oppisite ends of very important issues.

  4. findingschools says:

    The article shared in this blog identifies the cultural problems teachers face when they come from a different culture then their students. This website
    highlights “Cultural Competence for Teachers” . In the book, “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down”, the culture clash between a Hmong family and their American doctors is explored. What lessons can Third Culture Kids learn from either of these publications?

  5. Lisa Schwarzwald says:

    I believe the most common mistake we all make about people from other cultures, especially ones who do not speak our language, is judgement of their intelligence. I think this cultural competence article’s most important comment is the statement “limitations in English proficiency are in no way a reflection of the intellectual capacity of your students. ”

    This also applies to the families with whom we are communicating. If the spouse of the person we are working with has limited English it is critical that we find ways to commuincate with that spouse, or check to make sure his/her voice is being heard in their plans for placement. Also, it is important that a method of communication be established as to how the parents will be able to play an active role in their son or daughter’s education once they have relocated. Without that initial step, any cultural differences will not be addressed properly and may make for an unpleasant experience for the student if he/she doesn’t have the right people to talk to about their cultural challenges.

  6. Judy C. says:

    This is a fabulous article highlighting the issue of sterotyping and opening our minds to other possibilities in the educational field. when considering what is best for our clients and their children. The face of our classrooms in North America is changing – not just the children who are attending and the family dynamics and cultural backgrounds, but also the makeup of the staff in the schools. When helping our families understand what to expect in the American school system, it is our responsibillity to be sensitive to not only the cultural differences of our families but also to highlight the cultural differences the families will discover in our schools and share this information in a positive light.
    This article and the book, “The Spirit Catches You….” are good reminders of our need to understand cultural differences but also recognize the personal stories of everyone we meet and not make any assumptions about individuals. Asking thoughtful questions is a powerful tool to understanding each other.

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