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Complexities and Paradoxes of Community - Book Report/Review Example

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Complexities and Paradoxes of Community: Towards a More Useful Conceptualization of Community" by Carolyn M Shields and Patricia Ann Seltzer is an important article which makes use of the data collected from a longitudinal ethnographic study of two predominantly Navajo schools to prompt a reexamination of the concept of community…
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Complexities and Paradoxes of Community

Download file to see previous pages... Based on these concepts, the authors suggest the school as a moral community, a community of difference, and a community of dialogue. According to the authors, an understanding of the community based on these concepts can minimize the cognitive dissonance that is currently associated with normative concepts of community, apart from leading to other useful concepts of communities of difference that can be useful to educators in other diverse and cross-cultural settings. Therefore, the article by Carolyn M Shields and Patricia Ann Seltzer has a great scope in the understanding of the various complexities and paradoxes of community within the framework of schools. The authors make an important reflection on the various related aspects of community based in the stories and experiences from Red Rock Elementary School and Canyon Collegiate and the findings of the study demonstrate the complexity inherent in various communities. According to the authors, one cannot be blind to the diverse richness of the school community in favor of a label like 'Navajo' or 'Native American' by assuming a hegemony among culture, assumptions, beliefs and values. They maintain that the educators should take seriously the charge to explore the concept of community as a moral endeavor which is based on the dialogical processes which can help in identifying the underlying differences and similarities of belief, the moral nature, etc. Therefore, the authors indicate the notion of unity within diversity among various cultures.
In the beginning section of the article, the authors point out the fundamental conflict between valuing education and cultural emphasis of affirming the autonomy of the student. According to the authors, it is a challenging task to find ways to build on community cultural norms and practices and to implement a viable learning environment in the schools. As the authors maintain, the students of different communities also exhibit significant conflicts in goals and attitudes. To the people of Navajo culture, long term planning and goal-setting are bad luck which cannot be discussed in class. It is essential to make steps to incorporate various cultures in the development of schools as learning community. Thus, Red Rock Elementary School and Canyon Collegiate have emphasized the incorporation of various aspects of the Navajo culture into their curriculum and it is not easy task to introduce a culturally responsive and relevant curriculum. The various cultural issues of the students also pose problems to the school administrators and the various examples from the Navajo community illustrate this fact. These interesting instances from the Navajo community include a student's absence from the class because he was 'witched by a werewolf' and a teacher's leave from school due to the week-long ceremonies of a squaw dance for her father. Similarly, failure in a match would be considered as the curse of natural and external forces, rather than the responsibility of the players or the coaches. According to the authors of the article, the notion of values is central component of the conflicts and paradoxes concerning language, community goals and attitudes, and cultural practices. Clarifying values is a central function of every aspect of community life and the conflicting values from the community can cause specific challenges for teachers.
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