Culture and Diversity

Volume I

A. Wade Boykin

A. Wade Boykin is a Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in the Department of Psychology at Howard University. He is also the Executive Director of Capstone Institute at Howard University, formally known as the Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed At Risk (CRESPAR). Dr. Boykin has done extensive work in the area of research methodology; the interface of culture, context, motivation and cognition; Black child development; and academic achievement in the American social context. He is co-editor of the book Research Directions of Black Psychologists (Russell Sage Press), which was a finalist for the American Psychological Association’s Book of the Year. He is currently completing an entry for the Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education, entitled "Talent Development Model of Schooling", and recently completed a co-authored book Creating the Opportunity to Learn: Moving from Research to Practice to Close the Achievement Gap (ASCD Press). In addition, Dr. Boykin has done research and evaluation projects and conducted workshops on topics such as school reform, culturally responsive pedagogy, and minority student achievement, for several school districts in this country and abroad.
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Percentage Change in Number of ELs, By State: SYs 2004-2005 To 2013-2014

Sources: U. S. Department of Education, 2008-2010 Biennial Report to Congress and Consolidated State Performance Reports, SYs 2010-2011 and 2013-2014
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New Horizons in Education, Jo Gusman & Associates, 1-800-573-NHIE

After 20 years of sharing her practical ideas and insights around the world through her seminars and videos, Jo Gusman, and all of us here at New Horizons in Education, have expanded to provide you with research-based tools you have requested to meet the needs of your culturally and linguistically diverse population.

We have designed a website where you will find carefully selected materials, outstanding speakers, Jo's recommended websites, and answers to your questions about how to create effective programs for your linguistically and culturally diverse population. As we say in Spanish, "Mi casa es su casa! Our house is your house." Enjoy your visit here at

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Just Breathe

Is it true that we’re breathing the same molecules once breathed by the dinosaurs, Julius Caesar or Mahatma Gandhi?

The expert: Dr. Martin St. Maurice, assistant professor of biological sciences

“There is some truth to this possibility. The air we breathe is composed primarily of nitrogen gas and oxygen gas with a small amount of other gases, including carbon dioxide. All of these individual molecules are constantly rearranged and recycled through biochemical and geochemical processes, so you aren’t breathing in the exact same gas molecules that dinosaurs and Julius Caesar once breathed.

"The individual atoms making up those molecules, however, have been on earth for a long time – very little carbon, oxygen or nitrogen is lost to outer space, and only the occasional meteor brings a small extraterrestrial source of new carbon or oxygen to this planet. So, every breath you take and every bite you swallow is composed of atoms that have been here for a long time.

"It’s certainly possible to imagine a scenario where you breathe in a molecule of oxygen gas and, in one of your billions of cells, it gets combined with carbon from last night’s cupcake to make carbon dioxide. Your exhaled molecule of carbon dioxide is taken up by a young oak tree and, with the help of sunlight, the carbon gets converted into a molecule of cellulose that gets locked into that tree’s biomass for years. Eventually, over hundreds of years, that tree will grow, die and decompose. As it decomposes, that atom of carbon is released back to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and is used to generate oxygen through photosynthesis.

"That newly formed molecule of oxygen might be available to your great-great grandchild. It’s not the same molecule of oxygen that you breathed in years before, but it could be traced back to atoms that once passed through your body. In fact, this concept is also true of the food we eat. There may have been a carbon atom in last night’s cupcake that was once integral to the structure of Julius Caesar’s left toenail.

"All that said, what are the chances that an atom of oxygen you just breathed was once a small part of Julius Caesar? We can estimate approximately 67,500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms of oxygen on earth and 6,350,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms of carbon (that’s a lot of zeros). A quick calculation, loaded with assumptions, reveals that even if we sample completely different atoms of oxygen with every breath of life, we sample at most 0.0000000001 percent of all the oxygen atoms on earth over an 80-year lifespan.

"You don’t have to be a stats whiz to see that the chances of you and Julius Caesar sharing an identical atom of oxygen are extremely slim. There’s much less carbon than oxygen on earth and it’s contained over a much smaller volume, so I think you have a slightly better chance of eating a snack that was once a part of Caesar’s toenail (though these chances are still extremely slim).

"Approximately 3.5 billion years ago, there was no oxygen gas in the atmosphere; it developed in our atmosphere thanks to ancient photosynthetic microorganisms. So, while you aren’t likely to ever share exactly the same atom of oxygen as Brad Pitt or eat a cupcake that was once a part of Caesar’s toenail, every breath you take has, at one time or another, been associated with another living organism."

No man is an island by John Donne

No man is an island,

Entire of itself,

Each is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manor of thy friend’s

Or of thine own were:

Each man’s death diminishes me.

Because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;

It tolls for thee.