THE ROLE OF AMERICAN ACADEMY OF INNOVATION ON SOCIAL AND CULTURAL INTEGRATION

By German Lopez

High school students, by nature, have a strong need to belong to a group. A powerful concept that helps students socialize and belong to a group is called “integration” which is the act of bringing people of different cultures or ethnic groups into unrestricted and equal associations, such as school organizations. The concept of integration is influenced by a set of preconceived characteristics and mindsets, cultural roots, family environment, interactions with peers and faculty staff, and out-of classroom factors.

Some researchers state that student retention depends on the student’s ability to integrate and assimilate into the institution, and the question is: who is responsible for initiating, developing and maintaining such integration, the student, the family or the institutions?

Family may have the highest impact in developing students’ socialization skills due to the amount of time students spend at home during the first stages of their lives. Some researchers state that the responsibility of the integration rests on the school system, some believe it is the students’ responsibility, but others, such as Rendón, Jalomo, and Nora (2004), offer the concept of dual socialization, meaning that the institutions share responsibility in the successful cultural and social integration of students.

As of now, socialization issues have been related with the 1.3 million high school students’ dropouts in the U.S per year. Cases such as Vermont, which in 2006 had a 91.4% graduation rate, or Nevada, which in the same year had the lowest rate of 57.8% of students graduating; therefore, who impacts the results most in this phenomenon?

High school students face the integration dilemma in their own way. For some it is easy to overcome this challenge, but for others it is not. Tinto (1975) states that “persistence” is a key factor for student success. This translates to a student successfully integrating into the institution academically and socially. The question is how much time does it take for a student to get integrated? It will be a short transition for some students but for others will take more time; and minorities, who face an extra challenge with their cultural baggage, can be included in this group.

The fact is that institutions have many tools to generate opportunities to culturally integrate students in ways that not only recognize, but also embrace the cultural capital of each group of students.

Student organizations are perhaps the most common way students can form groups either organically or informally, that make cultural connections and promote inclusion. Kuh and Love (2004) show that students who made cultural connections through social groups that reflect their culture of origin were more likely to persist in higher education.

From what has been described, American Academy of Innovation may develop the theory of “triple socialization”, where families should be responsible for preparing students, AAI should be the one that initiate and promote the efforts, and students should be ultimately responsible for maintaining and developing these social skills. By doing this efficiently, the chances of socialization and integration, should improve significantly.

In American Academy of Innovation, we are aware of the roles that each party plays unto the equation, and it is our my goal to trigger the system that will expand integration throughout the formation of student organizations that foster activities that make cultural connections and reflect students’ culture and values; activities that have a sense of unity and friendship. The school faculty and staff will strive to create a culture of inclusion, tolerance and respect, which will help students to develop a sense of belonging and unity that will enrich their self-esteem. By doing this efficiently, the continuing socialization and integration, will be maintained as part of the school culture since the very beginning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Allen, J., Robbins, S.B., Casillas, A., and I. Oh. 2006. Third-year college retention and transfer: Effects of academic performance, motivation, and social connectedness. Review of Higher Education, 49: 647-664

Kawakami, A.J. 1999. Sense of place, community, and identity: Bridging the gap between home and school for Hawaiian students. Education and Urban Society, 32(1): 18-40.

 

Tinto, V. 1975. Dropout from higher education: A theoretical synthesis of recent research. Review of Educational Research, 45(1): 89-125.

 

Rendón, L., and Jalomo, R. and A. Nora. 2004. Theoretical considerations in the study of minority student retention in higher education. In Reworking the student departure puzzle ed. J. M. Braxton. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press