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Culture

Recognition of the multicultural nature of today’s societies in the classroom leads to understanding of difference and remembrance of similarities for all participants. Therefore, in order for multicultural education to make an impact on how people perceive and interact with others, all perspectives must become valued. www.minedu.govt.nz

Students come to us with different life experiences and views. Their cultural background shapes their learning in a myriad of ways. We need to consider the diversity that our students bring into the classroom in order to generate understandings and insights that allow teachers and students to create learning experiences that work for all students.

Keeping Culture in Mind

  • Recognize that culture is dynamic and flexible rather than unchanging and fixed.
  • Build a climate where all students feel safe when voicing their own opinions.
  • Provide opportunities for students to become more accepting of and knowledgeable about each other through talk and inquiry, e.g.explore the way different cultures are represented in the media, help students appreciate similarities between people of different cultures, etc.
  • Involve all students in meaningful reading and writing contexts that accommodate multiple perspectives and voices. 
  • Make diversity an integral part of your classroom.
  • Don’t assume deficits. Find out more about the lives of your students outside of school in order to discover their strengths and talents.

Additional Resources

Lisa Delpit, is one of the foremost American educators on culturally relevant approaches to education. Her article Education in a Multicultural Society: Our Future's Greatest Challenges provided a reference point for many of the ideas shared above.

The document, Managing Cultural Diversity in the Classroom, was prepared at the University of Waikato in NZ. It has a wealth of information that relates to working with cultural differences in multicultural classrooms.