Tag Archives: multicultural education

Tips for Working with Different Cultures in the Classroom

Consider the cultural differences before engaging in any of the following:

  • Appropriateness of using telephone to communicate with parents
  • Patting a child on the head as a sign of affection
  • Expecting children to look you in the eye when being scolded
  • Looking people you’ve just met in the eye when simply talking
  • Shaking hands, pointing, gesturing “come”
  • Being informal vs. courteous (e.g., it’s better to overdress than underdress)
  • Asking them their preferences and explaining your behavior

Ways Teachers Can Make a World of Difference

  • First of all, Do No Harm!
  • Be respectful and respectable.
  • Be inviting and caring.
  • Give the benefit of the doubt when your “cultural” feelings are hurt.
  • Be flexible with plenty of wait time.
  • Try more to understand than be understood, then teach and explain.
  • Be hypercritical, not hypocritical, of your own behavior!

Multicultural Education Isn’t…

  • About everyone agreeing and getting along
  • Only applicable to Language Arts and History
  • A process of watering down good curriculum
  • Related only to curriculum reform
  • Only for teachers and students of color
  • Achieved through a series of small changes
  • Modeled through cultural bulletin boards, assemblies, or fairs
  • The responsibility of culture-based student clubs or organizations
  • A single in-service workshop

Multicultural Education Is…

  • About naming and eliminating the inequities in education
  • A comprehensive approach for making education more inclusive, active, and engaging in all subject areas
  • A process for presenting all students with a more comprehensive, accurate understanding of the world
  • Related to all aspects of education, including pedagogy, counseling, administration, assessment and evaluation, research, etc.
  • For all students and educators
  • Achieved through the re-examination and transformation of all aspects of education
  • Modeled through self-critique, self-examination, and cross-cultural relationship-building
  • The responsibility of teachers, administrators, and school staff

When Using Multicultural Activities . . .

  • Be able to change the type of activities and exercises you use. Possible examples are whole class or large group, small groups, or partner share; simulations; role play; narrative; storytelling; and project making.
  • Have plenty of time for the students to dialogue and process.
  • Always start your lesson plan with concepts, and then add activities—never the reverse.
  • Whenever possible and appropriate, show the students you are willing to participate in the class exercises and activities. This gives strength to the position that everyone can share.
  • Role-playing is good, but it also needs to be balanced with real personal experiences followed by discussions.
  • Films can provide excellent illustration of concepts and lead to fruitful dialogues, but they should be short enough to allow for class dialogue.
  • Be creative. Too often, educators and facilitators become dependent on one or two activities or exercises. Canned activities and exercises are not designed to be used for every situation. After you’ve done it enough, you will have a sense for what will and will not work within that context.

Adapted and used with permission from Strategies for Choosing and Using Activities and Exercises for Intergroup Learning by Paul Gorski.