Sunday, July 17, 2011

Breaking Barriers: Country of the Blind and Education

            H.G. Well’s Country of the Blind deals with the underlying issues of language and culture, and how crucial it is to break down the barrier that separates both worlds.  Nunez, for instance, had different expectations when he first arrived at the Country of the Blind.  Since he had the ability of sight, he thought that he had an advantage over the blind citizens.  Nunez, however, did not expect the blind citizens to have their own ways of dealing with their lack of sight.  Instead, Nunez became a “child” in their eyes, always stumbling and causing problems to others.  Aside from that, the blind citizens did not have the flexibility to accept Nunez because they wanted him to conform to their ways.  They were so narrow-minded that they wanted Nunez to be devoid of his eyes so that his “madness” could end and he can start his new life as a blind citizen like everyone else.  In the end, Nunez was unable to reach out to the blind citizens, which ultimately became his downfall.  If Nunez was able to communicate better with the blind citizens, I believe that it would have completely changed their opinion of him because it would have created a bridge of understanding between the two different cultures. 
             The same thing happens in classrooms, where different languages, cultures, and identities gather.  This is a difficult situation that teachers tackle, especially because of how crucial it is for teachers to accommodate the needs of all their students.  For instance, a teacher who enters a classroom with high expectations can be discouraged by the students’ performance or actions.  In our seminar, we talked about how some students prefer to stay quiet in class and to avoid eye contact.  Teachers need to be aware that in some cultures, it is considered rude to have eye contact with their teachers.  Therefore, teachers need to become more sensitive when it comes to their students’ culture, so that they can better assist them.  Relationships are crucial when it comes to building bridges as well, so teachers need to make sure that they can relate to their students so that they can earn their trust.  Aside from catering to the different cultures in the classroom, it is also important for teachers to be conscious of a language barrier in the classroom.  This can include helping English learners to better understand the material, as well as making sure that students are interpreting directions properly.  Some students can interpret “make it pretty” as “writing neater,” while others can interpret it as “add pretty pictures.”  Also, teachers need to be mindful that communicating with their students is helpful with the development of their students’ knowledge.  If teachers are not supplying their students with enough chances to communicate, then the students can feel insignificant, which can hinder their growth in the classroom.  It is not just teachers that need to oblige to their students, but the students need to adapt to their teachers as well.  As long as teachers and students develop great relationships, they can have a better chance of succeeding in the classroom.


  1. I really like how you look at the relationship. The teacher is in a very difficult position because there is fine line we must balance. There are so many different needs in one classroom, which is what makes the culture of a classroom so diverse and great, but it can also be very hard for the teacher to allow people to learn and be who they are in the classroom when it is very different from other children in the classroom. Our role as teachers is to learn how to make the content of the classroom work for all students in the best way for them as learners, and community members.
    I also really like how you give exact examples of how students can misunderstand a statement so simple as “make it pretty”. As teachers, even when we think we are being clear, we need to think about how whatever we are trying to get across can be misconstrued. We need to make sure that the language we choose to use must be understood by all our students in the classroom, and if one doesn’t understand we must find a new way to describe what we need so that they do not feel behind.

  2. I agree, which is why I think that teachers should plan their lessons so that it covers different multiple intelligences. By doing so, it offers everyone a chance to actually learn the material. Thank you for the comment!