The cultural differences among students are an asset to an inclusive classroom, not a deﬁcit
Picture a classroom full of students who are collaborating, learning, and studying in harmony.
The student’s enrolled grade level serves as the teacher’s point of reference for creating student-specific plans. Each student faces rigorous performance standards.
The curricular standards approved by the school or state serve as the foundation for instruction. Every youngster receives the same curriculum. Where required, individualized services are offered.
This is how an inclusive classroom looks like, at first glance. Inclusion is about ALL students belonging!
Now, let’s add some more details to this scenario.
The way the students interact with one another and the activities they participate in imply that who they are has an impact on their learning. The focus in the classroom setting is on raising students’ understanding of and acceptance of the many multicultural differences, as well as on making deliberate changes to particular behaviors to celebrate those differences in learning.
This classroom is inclusive and culturally competent. Being culturally competent means being aware of one’s own cultural ideas and values and how they may differ from those of other cultures. It also means being able to understand and respect the various cultural backgrounds of others with whom one interacts on a daily basis.
Cultural Competence ensures that the learning environment values
- all students, staff and community members equally
- all students’ self-esteem and promote respect of others.
- the culture, language and beliefs of each student and
- a range of perspectives and variety of educational experiences that students, parents and carers bring to learning.
A culturally competent school set up plans for
- inclusion across policies, practices and cultures within the school
- activities that provide all students with opportunities to express their voice within the school
- professional development that encourages staff to embrace diversity, prepare curricular content, and execute instruction to address discrimination,
- promoting family involvement that makes use of available community resources.
Cultural Competence ensures that the learning environment models
- consistent, fair and high expectations for all students
- respectful relationships and interactions which reflect an openness to differing attitudes, beliefs and world views
- Collaboration between all stakeholders involved
- supportive, prejudice-free, anti-discriminatory behavior
Hence, by appreciating and understanding the various viewpoints, experiences, and identities of students, cultural competence fosters inclusivity. Teachers may establish an inclusive classroom where all students feel valued and included when they acknowledge and appreciate the cultural origins of their students. This improves student engagement, learning results, and sense of belonging.
Cultural competence enables educators to communicate effectively with students from diverse cultural backgrounds. It aids in their comprehension of cultural norms, expectations, and subtleties of nonverbal communication. Educators may make sure that their words are understood and prevent misunderstandings that might impede learning by being aware of these variables.
Cultural competence helps bridge the cultural gaps that exist between educators and students. Culturally competent teachers can engage with students and their families, earn their trust, and create lasting bonds. This relationship enables educators to develop individualized learning experiences and give appropriate support by facilitating a greater knowledge of students’ needs, abilities, and limitations.
Cultural competence encourages educators to incorporate culturally relevant teaching practices. This entails creating curricula and teaching methods that take into account students’ cultural heritages, life experiences, and interests. By relating what students are learning to their real-world experiences, culturally relevant education increases student engagement, relevance, and academic success.
Cultural competence nurtures global citizenship by preparing students to thrive in a diverse world. It fosters compassion, tolerance, and respect for all cultures and viewpoints. Culturally competent educators increase students’ likelihood of developing into courteous, accepting, and socially responsible adults who can make constructive contributions to society.
Cultural competence plays a crucial role in addressing educational disparities and bias. Teachers can recognise and eliminate structural hurdles that might obstruct students’ progress by having a thorough awareness of the cultural influences that impact students’ learning experiences. It supports the creation of opportunities that are fair for all pupils, regardless of their socioeconomic or cultural background.
Research has shown that Cultural competence positively influences academic achievement. Students become more interested, motivated, and connected to the material when their cultural identities and experiences are validated and incorporated into the learning process. As a result, educational outcomes are enhanced, and achievement gaps are closed.
To promote Cultural competence in education, professional development programs for educators, inclusive curriculum development, and community involvement are essential. Emphasizing the importance of cultural competency throughout the educational system can create more inclusive learning environments that prepare students for a diverse and interconnected world.
Author – Neha Bahuguna, Educator, Army Public School, Shankar Vihar, New Delhi