Category Archives: Culturally Responsive Education

Liberation of Dachau by Japanese Americans 552nd Field Artillery Battalion 442nd RCT April 29th 1945



by Nihomachi Outreach Committee San Jose

(This article is reposted with permission of NOC.
Please visit their site by clicking on the link above)

The war in Europe was coming to a close as the Allies raced across Germany to Berlin. Elements of the US 7th Army chased the remnants of the German army retreating into Germany. Among the fastest moving units was the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion a Nisei (Second generation Japanese American) unit that was originally attached to the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The 442nd won the most decorations for any American unit for its size during WW2. The unit would win 7 Presidential Citations (5 while rescuing the Lost Texas Battalion in France 1944), 20 Medals of Honor (America’s highest decoration for valor) and over 9000 Purple Hearts (decorations for wounds suffered in combat). The 522 had a reputation for having the fastest and most accurate fire in the US Army. They were hand picked by Gen. Eisenhower (Commander of Allied Forces in Europe) to help lead the attack into Germany.

The 522nd liberated several of the sub camps near Dachau and actually opened the main gate at the Dachau concentration camp. Some 5000 survivors of the Dachau concentration camp were liberated by elements of the 522 on April 29th 1945.

Dachau was established in 1933 as the Nazi regime rose to power. The infamous camp was in 12 years of existence with some 206,000 prisoners .Dachau had some 30 sub camps (smaller forced labor and/or POW camps) located near adjacent towns. It was the site of mass exterminations, executions, and death marches. Some 5000 inmates were liberated mostly Jewish, Russian, French, Polish civilians and Allied POW’s.

The Story of Sgt. Oiye

On April 29th 1945, Staff Sgt. George Oiye was member of a forward observer team (patrols to search for targets for artillery to shoot ) for artillery battery C leading the 7th Army racing into Germany. Elements of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion were spread out over a 30 mile radius. They had orders to destroy military targets in Munich and to demolish the headquarters of the dreaded SS. They also had warnings to be on the look out for top Nazis such as Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun (Hitler’s mistress). They chased the retreating German units,captured and disarmed them. According to 522 records they were the first Allied unit to reach Dachau.

Unintentional Liberators

“We weren’t supposed to be there” said Oiye. Since they were spread out over such a wide area (30 KM) and Dachau was so big they simply ran into it. Japanese American soldiers shot the lock of the main gate of the outer perimeter fences. Then opened the barbed wire gates of the infamous crematorium the site were thousands of Jewish prisoners bodies were burned into ashes. The building had tall smoke stacks and large ovens with bodies smoldering still inside. Prisoners were often gassed or died of the harsh slave labor conditions at Dachau.

“A Hard Thing”
Oiye explained his reaction to visiting the infamous camp: He was mainly on the muddy roads out side the camp when it started to snow. “It was very cold and he saw the prisoners shivering. Some were in very bad shape,”emaciated, sick, diseased, bugs crawling on them and dying” He recalled the stripped suits they wore and some had no shoes. Oiye and his fellow soldiers gave the prisoners their extra gloves, bed rolls, and food. His reaction to the prisoners: “we were not prepared to deal with coming across a concentration camp.” “We came across by accident and were not prepared. It was a hard thing” He remembered that he ” felt bewildered, then angry and fearful. ” Oiye explained the sense of guilt “that mankind had transgressed so far…. the worst case of sin I know of.”

“War was one thing but that kind of treatment of mankind; thats is not normal” Oiye stated. Some of the 522nd soldiers found ladies handbags made of human skin. He could remember seeing “intricate” tattoos on these handbags. Gloves and lampshades were also found to made of human skin. Other soldiers reported that dozens of prisoners that were horribly tortured and murdered.


read more …………

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Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion

Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.’” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.

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Esta Tierra Es Tuya (This Land Is Your Land)


“Woody Guthrie wrote this classic in 1940 and originally had a message of inclusiveness. It was inspired by the plight of “Okies,” displaced Great Plains farmers unwelcomed in California when they sought work during the 1930’s Dust Bowl Depression Era. It was dramatized in the book and movie, The Grapes of Wrath. This Spanish version was written by Sones de Mexico Ensemble. Its norteño version remains relevant 71 later and speaks of America’s debate over immigration.”


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Been in a Saloon Lately?


Been in a Saloon Lately?

By: Dr. William Howe, Adjunct Professor of Education


saloon (1)
Those of us who grew up in the 60s probably remember spending hours watching Westerns on television. A common scene is a noisy saloon filled with people. There are classes clinking, loud arguments, a honky-tonk piano, and the occasional gunfire. Suddenly, a stranger comes to the saloon doors and the place falls silent. People gaze in awe or contempt at the person entering.

Have you ever had that experience yourself? I had that experience this week and numerous times in my life. Today, I entered a room to join a new committee and quickly realized that among the 35 people present, I was the only person of color.

Some of you may know quite well what I am talking about – being the only person who is different and receiving uncomfortable looks from others in the room. Women experience that when they enter into a room filled with men only. People of color feel this when they walk into a room and suddenly the room falls quiet. For the person entering the room, they had several choices – turn around and leave, go into the room and disappear into a corner, or learn to work the room.

Of all the lessons that we can give to women and people of color, perhaps most important is to learn how to cope with this situation. I have had people obviously uncomfortable with me present. One person blurted out that they love Chinese food. Another, for some reason, had to tell me about eating at a Chinese restaurant in the Midwest and asking if I knew the owners. We know what it’s like when people are uncomfortable with us, when people are uncomfortable with diversity. It is critical then that we teach women and students of color seven key social skills that they will need in order to learn how to fit into the current world of work. For they will have two overcome the facts that people like to hire people that they like and that they are comfortable with and unfortunately there are many who do not have enough experience with women or people of color to have a comfort level. Therefore, we must teach these key skills valued in the American world of work but often, the opposite of what is taught and valued in other cultures.

1.  Speaking Up – people who speak softly are often viewed in the American culture as being insecure and weak. This is however a cultural trait often taught to people from other cultures as a demonstration of their modesty and humbleness. It is important to teach that although this skill is appropriate and valued in the culture, in order to succeed in the American workplace we must learn to speak out in a louder voice.
2.  Small Talk – people are comfortable with people who are able to engage them in conversation. People who are good talkers or storytellers are able to make others feel at ease. This is a skill that must be learned by women and people of color in order to help others for comfortable with them.
3.  Smiling – I once had a group of teachers from Azerbaijan asked me why American smile so much. Smiling is not culturally a common practice in other countries. Americans like people who smile because they look much more approachable. People who have great smiles, not only look better, but look more friendly and sincere.
4.  Being Assertive – assertive, not aggressive, is something that we should teach students. In the American workplace, assertiveness is valued. It is seen, in other cultures as being impolite or rude.
5.  Hand-Shaking – we talk about shaking hands to close the deal. We shake hands in order to judge a person. A good firm handshake sends a message of confidence and sincerity. For those from other cultures or handshaking is not a common practice, it is important to teach this skill.
6.  Eye Contact- so often we hear about how quaint it is that Asians and Latinos look down to show deference to elders or their superiors. This is true. But it is not seen as a strength in the American world of work. Good eye contact must be taught.
7.  Self-Promotion – most of us were probably raised being taught not to be a showoff or to brag. However, there is a time and a place when we must learn to sell ourselves. We must learn to state our skills and experiences without hesitation.

One may ask whether this is fair to ask people to fit into a culture which they obviously do not find comfortable. The reality is that until the “minorities” become the “majority” we must learn to play the game. The positive message that we must sure is that we are not giving up our culture or denying our culture, we are learning how to be multicultural. We have earned how to survive and succeed in our home culture as well as the American world of work. This is a strength. Having a degree from a reputable college is often insufficient for women and people of color. They must learn the key social skills in order to get the job and to flourish in the organization. Once they rise to the top they can begin changing the culture of the organization.

Dr. Bill Howe is an adjunct professor of education at Quinnipiac University. He is the co-author of the recently published, award-winning textbook by Sage – Becoming a multicultural educator: Developing awareness, gaining skills, and taking action. (Howe & Lisi, 2014).

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Social and Emotional Learning Research Review

Numerous research reports show that social and emotional learning (SEL) can have a positive impact on students’ academic performance. Edutopia’s SEL research review explores those reports and helps make sense of the results. In this series of four articles, learn how researchers define social and emotional learning, review some of the possible learning outcomes, get our recommendations of evidence-based programs, find tips for avoiding pitfalls when implementing SEL programs, and dig in to acomprehensive annotated bibliography with links to all the studies and reports cited in these pages.

read more …………..  [thanks to Tara Roberts, English teacher at Chicopee Comprehensive High School for the tip]

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Culture in the Classroom



Educators today hear a lot about gaps in education – achievement gaps, funding gaps, school-readiness gaps. Still, there’s another gap that often goes unexamined: the cultural gap between students and teachers.

“A bunch of teachers here, they think they know what’s wrong with us. But they don’t know. If people want to help us, they have to see what we’ve been through, not from what their own experiences tell them.”
– Billie, a Lakota teen speaking of the teachers at her high school

Most of us in the education profession are white, middle-class, monolingual-English speakers. Increasingly, the same profile does not hold true for our students. Often, when we stand before our classrooms, the faces looking back at us do not look like our own. Many of us try to bridge this difference with an embrace of color-blindness or the Golden Rule, treating others the way we would want to be treated.

But the truth is: culture matters.

Culture isn’t just a list of holidays or shared recipes, religious traditions, or language; it is a lived experience unique to each individual. As educators, it’s our job to stimulate the intellectual development of children, and, in this era, it’s simply not enough to operate on the axis of color-blindness.

To truly engage students, we must reach out to them in ways that are culturally and linguistically responsive and appropriate, and we must examine the cultural assumptions and stereotypes we bring into the classroom that may hinder interconnectedness.


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Becoming a multicultural educator. Review by James A. Banks

Howe, W. A., & Lisi, P. L. (2014). Becoming a multicultural educator: Developing awareness, gaining skills, and taking action. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.


Dear Bill and Penelope:

Please accept my warm congratulations on the publication of BECOMING A MULTICULTURAL EDUCATOR, which I received from SAGE yesterday. The book is well conceptualized and executed. I think it will be well received by the field. Thank you for including my work and profile in Chapter 1. I am honored to be in your book

Again, warm congratulations!

All the best,
Jim Banks

James A. Banks
Kerry and Linda Killinger Endowed Chair in Diversity Studies and Director
Center for Multicultural Education
University of Washington
Box 353600, 110 Miller Hall
Seattle, WA 98195-3600
Phone: 206-543-3386 Fax 206-543-1237


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