15th Dealing with Difference Institute
Tuesday & Wednesday, May 20 - 21, 2008
Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL
"Playing Games to Awaken Multicultural Consciousness" was the theme of the two-day Dealing with Difference Institute held on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 20 and May 21, 2008, at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. The theme was chosen because games and simulations can be exceptionally effective in helping individuals recognize the challenges and rewards of communicating and interacting with people across cultures. Whether simple five or ten-minute exercises or elaborate simulations that call for a commitment of several hours, play can make situations and issues "real" in ways that theoretical or directly didactic instruction does not. It readily engages participants affectively as well as intellectually.
- Maurice Ashley
- Garry Shirts
- Savario "Sam" Mungo
- Timothy R. McMahon & Steven Axley
- Phil Schlemmer and Dori Schlemmer
- Jadiem Wilson
Mr. Maurice Ashley, who became an International Grandmaster in 1999 and has taught chess for many years, lists with ease and assurance the benefits of chess in Chess for Success: Using an Old Game to Build New Strengths in Children and Teens. Chess, he says, develops logical thinking, sharpens problem-solving skills, improves concentration and focus, enhances imagination and creativity, develops the capacity to foresee the consequences of one’s actions, promotes independence and a sense of responsibility, hones memory, heightens self-esteem, and reinforces the concept of deferred gratification (4). He has seen students he has tutored reap these benefits and, while he does not suggest chess is a panacea schools can embrace to insure the success of all, he is convinced of its value for a significant number of students.
His own experience, as a very poor Jamaican immigrant escaping the dangers of a seedy Brooklyn neighborhood through his fascination with chess, laid the foundation for this conviction. As he states in Chess for Success, chess allowed him to build “a wall against . . . acquaintances who had begun swimming in the direction of a strong seductive current where drugs, money, violence, jail, and, in a few cases, death were patiently waiting downstream” (30).
With this in mind, Mr. Ashley has introduced children and teens to the game and works with them as they develop the skills chess promotes. In the 1990s, he coached Harlem’s Raging Rooks and Dark Knights to multiple national championships. Perhaps more importantly, he has seen a number of his players go on to college, with several earning advanced degrees. In 2004 he was named Community Educator of the Year by his own alma mater, the City College of New York.
In his DWDI presentation, Building Bridges with Chess, Mr. Ashley will draw from his experience as well as the experiences of his students when he discusses chess as a tool that can motivate and challenge students in ways that strengthen the skills necessary to succeed in a culturally diverse, academically demanding world.
While in Illinois for the Dealing with Difference Institute, Mr. Ashley will spend time in the Quad Cities to meet with elementary school children who are studying chess as part of their math curriculum. This is a follow up to his November 2006 visit to the Quad Cities when he took on 31 opponents in a chess exhibition, met with school administrators, and visited a chess class at Earl Hanson Elementary School in Rock Island. Identifying himself as an ambassador of chess, such activities have become a major aspect of his work.
For the past 40 years, Dr. Garry Shirts has been designing, researching, and publishing simulations designed to help people understand one another and to think creatively and critically about a few core issues: racism, sexism, creativity, cooperative behavior, and ethics.
He started designing simulations for students in 1964 as the guidance coordinator for the San Diego County Department of Education. Dr. Shirts continued designing simulations and researching their effectiveness at the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute in LaJolla, California. In 1970 he founded Simulation Training Systems, formerly Simile II, a company that designs and publishes simulations for schools, corporations, non-profit agencies, and government organizations.
For the Dealing with Difference Institute, in an interactive session titled Creating Meaningful Learning Experiences with Simulations, Dr. Shirts will discuss StarPower and demonstrate BaFá BaFá, two simulations used extensively by people interested in understanding people who are different from them. He developed StarPower for the National Council of Social Studies Convention on racism in 1970 to help people understand what it feels like to be powerless and to discover how easy it is to abuse power when you have it. StarPower became one of the most popular simulations of its type and continues to be used around the world for many different purposes and by many different types of organizations.
In 1977 he developed BaFá BaFá. Teachers, consultants and trainers use it to help people learn how to understand, work with, and live among cultures that are different from their own. Dr. Shirts will run BaFá BaFá for the participants of the Institute and then discuss ways they can design, develop, and use simulations and other experiential programs to create exciting and meaningful learning experiences for their students.
Dr. Sam Mungo is Professor Emeritus at Illinois State University (ISU) where he taught courses in curriculum, teaching strategies, multicultural education, cross-cultural communication, and middle-level education from 1968 to 2004. In 1971, he initiated and directed the ISU Urban Field Experience program, an off-campus urban teacher education program that provided teacher education students with long-term opportunities to work with culturally diverse elementary and middle-school children.
Before retiring, Dr. Mungo helped establish the ISU College of Education Multicultural Laboratory, a library of videos, DVDs, games and simulations, software, books, audiotapes, filmstrips, and posters that focus on diversity issues. He has contributed substantially to this library and will draw from this resource for his DWDI presentation on Classroom Strategies and Simulations That Engage and Provoke.
Prior to coming to ISU in 1968, Dr. Mungo taught for ten years in New York in grades six to ten in several urban school districts, including a junior high school in Spanish Harlem in New York City. Dr. Mungo was the Director of the ISU Alternative Student Teaching Site in Honolulu, Hawaii, and continues to serve as a consultant in the fields of cultural diversity and cross-cultural communication. His current field of interest and commitment is prison ministry, where he works with inmates in jails and prisons facilitating various educational and religious activities. He is the co-author of a recently published workbook, "Pathway to Freedom," that was written specifically for use in correctional facilities.
In addition to having been on the board of both the Association of Illinois Middle Schools and the National Middle School Association, Dr. Mungo was a founding member of the National High School Association and a member of the board of the Association of Illinois High Schools.
Dr. Timothy McMahon and Dr. Steven Axley will focus on Experiential Learning and its Use in Teaching Diversity in their session. Because such learning can be can be very effective in teaching a wide variety of topics but many teachers and faculty are uncomfortable introducing it into their classrooms, the presenters will ask participants to engage in a variety of activities that can help them--and their students--become comfortable with this method while they learn about diversity.
Some DWDI participants may remember Dr. McMahon from his previous workshops for earlier DWDIs. He taught graduate and undergraduate classes at Western Illinois University and has also worked in student affairs at Western Illinois University, the University of Iowa, Washington State University, Lakeland College, and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Tim McMahon is currently a Faculty Consultant in the Teaching Effectiveness Program and a Program Specialist in the Center on Diversity and Community at the University of Oregon. In these roles, he works with faculty and staff on issues related to teaching, learning, and diversity.
Dr. McMahon has made numerous national presentations on topics related to leadership education and diversity and has been a presenter at the National Leadership Symposium. Among his professional interests are leadership development, chaos and systems theory, and issues related to diversity. He received a Bachelor's degree in Astronomy and a Master's degree in Higher Education Administration, both from the University of Illinois, and his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oregon State University in College Student Services Administration.
He is a co-author (with Susan Komives and Nance Lucas) of Exploring Leadership: For College Students Who Want To Make a Difference, second edition published in 2007 by Jossey-Bass. Tim loves the Chicago Cubs, Macintosh computers, Diet Pepsis, and the music of Bruce Springsteen.
Dr. Steven Axley is Professor of Management at Western Illinois University. He has also taught at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and the University of Oklahoma. His educational background includes a Ph.D. and M.S. from Purdue University and a B.A. from Louisiana State University. He has published in such professional journals as the Academy of Management Review, Group and Organization Studies, Industrial Management, the Organizational Behavior Teaching Review, and the Journal of Management Education (in the latter, an article with fellow DWDI presenter Tim McMahon), among other journals. He has also written Communication at Work: Management and the Communication-Intensive Organization. His current research and writing interests focus on the application of Complexity Science to organizations and to education.
Dr. Axley's teaching has centered on organizational behavior, organizational change, and leadership at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. He has received numerous teaching awards from both the College of Business and Technology and from Western Illinois University. In the course of his twenty-seven plus years working in higher education, he has been active as a change consultant and trainer to organizations, working with more than eighty profit and nonprofit organizations, the state governments of Illinois, Iowa, and Oklahoma, and was appointed a charter member trainer with the Illinois Institute for Training and Development.
Apart from his professorial and consulting activities, Dr. Axley's favorite avocational pursuit is commercial songwriting—five of his compositions have been recorded by artists from independent studios and marketed primarily in Europe, with greatest radio airplay in Ireland, Belgium, and Scandinavia.
Phil and Dori Schlemmer have been collaborating for over three decades on research and writing initiatives that involve differentiated instruction and hands-on learning. Together they have written ten books for classroom teachers, their latest being Teaching BEYOND the Test: Differentiated Project-Based Learning in a Standards-Based Age. In a DWDI session titled Using Differentiated Instruction Strategies to Have Fun and Learn, Too!, they will present a variety of research-based methods for engaging all students, allowing participants to gain specific, ready-to-use ideas for classroom implementation in elementary and secondary as well as college and university classes. They will explore creative cubing, jigsaw grouping, tic-tac-toe topic boards, lesson scenarios, brain-compatible activities, project-based learning, and choice as a motivator while discussing the value of challenging, enjoyable, active learning for students. Since their work has been primarily within K-12 education systems, they will be drawing from that experience, but participants will be able to recognize that the principles and strategies they explore are relevant to all levels of learning.
Phil Schlemmer is currently Curriculum Director for Holland Public Schools in Holland, Michigan. He has been a teacher, administrator, writer, consultant, and curriculum designer since 1973. His main areas of expertise are project-based learning and differentiated instruction. Throughout his career he has focused his efforts on helping students become self-directed, lifelong learners. His experiences range from being an original teacher in a unique full time school at the municipal zoo (known to all as "The Zoo School") in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to the directorship of a magnet high school program called The Center for World Studies, to teaching in a variety of gifted/talented programs and working with teachers in a wide range of capacities that involve curriculum design and instructional innovation. His key strengths are in the areas of staff development and creating ways of improving achievement for all students in a diverse population such as the one found in Holland Public Schools. He spends literally hundreds of hours every year leading professional development workshops designed to help K-12 teachers implement strategies that lead to greater success for their students.
Dori Schlemmer's primary area of expertise is the development of specialized resources for students and staff. Being a hands-on learner, she advocates for the students whose learning styles and goals are often overlooked in today’s teach-to-the-test curriculum. Her job the past eight years as the Career Resource Technician in the Guidance Department for East Kentwood High School addresses the challenge of preparing students for success after high school. Her work with career focused education reinforces the need to help students take ownership of their education process to become motivated, self-directed, life-long learners, not just at the secondary level, but throughout the K-12 educational system. Humor, contextualized activities, relevance, personal respect, and accountability are some of the tools needed to engage students and this is the perspective that Dori brings to the discussion of how to help students succeed. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Michigan University and is a certified Global Career Development Facilitator. She plays an important supportive role in helping to develop the message and the presentation materials for workshops, generally leaving the actual delivery to Phil.
Jadiem Wilson will introduce DWDI participants to his Street Academics when he presents “Utilizing the Elements.” Combining an understanding of contemporary youth and urban culture with an ability to condense an entire class period of information into hip hop lyrics, he will demonstrate how he connects with middle-school students in his science classes--whether they are working at a basic, proficient, or advanced level of learning--through verse and a creative curriculum that students enjoy.
Wilson sees Street Academics as a supplemental learning tool that translates traditional academic information into rap. Though the lyrics he creates carry facts about “Habitats and Ecosystems” and other scientific subjects, the music draws from the sounds of the street. He brings these into the classroom and weds them to the curriculum; students, because they like the music, carry the rap he creates back to the streets, in the process strengthening their ability to hold onto the lessons embedded in the words.
Because of the versatility of lyrics, Wilson anticipates creating an entire hip hop curriculum to supplement traditional curricula, in the process countering the negative misconceptions of hip hop as an art form, demonstrating the power of music as a form of expression and communication, and helping further students’ awareness and appreciation of cultural diversity.
A rapper who has been sharpening his skills since he was ten years old, Wilson survived the harsh realities of poverty in Pasadena, California, gained entry into Northern Arizona State University via an athletic scholarship, and earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a science emphasis. He began his teaching career in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he taught middle school students science for four years and coached high school football and track teams. He currently teaches physical science to eighth graders at J. B. Young Intermediate School in Davenport, Iowa.
DWDI Planning Committee members included: J. Q. Adams, Western Illinois University; Richard Hazley, Trinity Higher Education Corporation; Frances Murphy, Eastern Illinois University; Diane Nyhammer, McHenry County College; Joyce Reed, Lincoln College; William O. Miller, Principia College; and Janice R. Welsch, Western Illinois University.[an error occurred while processing this directive]