Crossing cultures: Home vs. school

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) -

This story is part of our Raising The Bar series. Together with parents, educators, business and community leaders, 13 Action News is leading the discussion on improving education in Southern Nevada. We will connect families with solutions that empower our community to build a foundation for a successful future. If you have an idea for a Raising The Bar story, click here to email us at raisingthebar@ktnv.com.

Jackie Eddy and her son Anderson are enjoying life in Las Vegas and Anderson is enjoying school, but Jackie knows there will be some bumps in the road in the future.

"Being a parent of a mixed race child, I will have challenges in the future. There are going to be some lived experiences that he's going to have that I'm not going to be able to relate to," Eddy said. 

Growing up, Jackie attended school all over. Her family is from Columbia, she grew up and went to school in South America, Mexico, California, and Seattle Washington. She struggled a lot, and she thinks her teachers could have done more. 

She made it, and now, she's in her 2nd year at the school of psychology at UNLV. Sam Song is one of Jackie's professors. He studies cultural mismatches and their impact. Mismatches are incompatibilities between the home culture and the school culture.

"What if your student is from a culture that teaches you not to actually ask for help? Right? That the teacher is the expert, and you wait for the teacher to teach you," Song said. 

Another example would be eye contact. Some cultures teach kids not to look someone directly in the eye when they are speaking, out of respect. This may be opposite of the norm, but it's what the child learned at home. That mismatch can affect how kids interact at school too.

"Students don't get along with students so they cannot have a lot of friendships, and they can be socially isolated, maybe even lead to school bullying," Song said.

This can all create a negative learning environment and a lack of ability to concentrate.

"Family might not feel comfortable approaching a teacher and express what their values are, what they are looking for in their child's education, so I would really encourage educators to start that dialogue," Eddy said.

That's why family-school partnerships are important to moms like Jackie. When Anderson is rewarded at school for doing a good job, she carries that reward system through to home life.

So what is the solution? Well, a lot of it starts at home, but as Jackie said, it should also come from the school. Teachers communicating with the students is extremely important.

Jennifer Beskow agrees. She's the director of 'HOPE Squared,' this program provides mentoring, social workers, and helps the parents as well.

Its goal is to help students of all cultures and backgrounds, succeed.  If they succeed, it benefits everyone that lives here. 

"When a kid is expelled from school this is the same kid, he's still in your community. You're still going to see him at the grocery store, you're still going to see him down the street, so the bottom line is, do you want them ignorant? Or do you want them educated? Because eventually, they're going to be the leaders of our community," Beskow said. 

And those potential leaders will have different experiences and different backgrounds. Kids need good role models. Experts say it makes a huge impact on whether or not they will be successful.  

"Everybody has a different lived experience, I'm a Latina, my experience is going to be different from another family who may have immigrated from Mexico or any other country, their experience is very different. It's not one size fits all," Eddy said. 

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Together with parents, educators, business and community leaders, 13 Action News will lead the discussion on improving education in Southern Nevada. We will connect families with solutions that empower our community to build a foundation for a successful future.