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Open Discussions about Assimilation

Our school has a culture in which we openly discuss school practices that may be anchored in colonization or assimilation.  We routinely reflect on these tendencies, challenge each other in our practices, and invite other viewpoints and/or ways of practice.

Not Yet

Staff does not discuss educational practices or does not acknowledge the need for culturally responsive teaching and environment.  Cultural deficit model is the norm.


Pockets of staff are aware of the need for culturally responsive education and are willing to discuss amongst themselves.  Cultural deficit model is present.

We Got This!

Staff regularly discuss educational practices and invite self and peer questioning on tendencies toward dominant culture or implementation of Cultural deficit model.



The practices within schools that expect assimilation or are tied to colonization are long standing. The biased practices rooted in this history are often unintentional in today’s schools, yet still impactful. Having an open conversation about practices and exploring how these may be tied to historical practices is key in being able to identify and deepen understanding of the issues.  This self-learning by those working in schools is necessary for any lasting change

Field Story

Tell us your story

Do you have a story or experience that illustrates this point?  Let us hear about it


See the full research list

Several researchers explored the relationship between students and the dominant culture of the school. They found that students who sought to assimilate, take on the Western culture, did not do as well as students who resisted assimilation and learned to embrace their cultural identity as a strength (Adelman, et al, 2013; Chen 2012; Huffman 2001; Larimore & McClellan, 2005). Other researchers highlighted the tendency of schools to expect assimilation as the route to academic achievement (Convertino & Graboski-Bauer, 2018; Welton & Martinez, 2014)

If schools are going to help students avoid feeling the pressure to assimilate, educators will need to discuss what practices might be encouraging assimilation. Through open discussions, educators can help each other be reflective of their own practices.

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