Tag Archives: Education

Love This Quote About “Truths”

WOrld

“Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways, yet each one can be true.”

~ Swami Vivekananda

One of my major takeaways after working with thousands of international students, scholars, and visiting faculty, is that truth, although true for the beholder, is different for each person.  Pending his or her cultural background and personal experiences, we speak truths from of own perspective.  Thus, we often misunderstand the intentions of those who operate from alternative truths.

It turns out though, that if we take the time to learn accurate information about others’ cultural frameworks and perspectives, their truths make sense too.  The trick is taking the time to learn and making sure the content aligns with the targeted demographic.

By doing this, we bridge invisible gaps and minimize barriers which keep us separated, ignorant, in fear or in competition with those we don’t understand.  By knowing more about another person’s culture, we empower ourselves to communicate more effectively with them.  We also begin to more easily navigate with people from diverse backgrounds.  Our newly understood truths form mutual respect and lead to new ways to live peacefully together.

We see more bridging between differing cultures occur more and more in businesses that work across multiple countries, at universities with international education programs, with government and non-profit organizations.  That’s why www.CulturallyConfident.com provides classes, workshop training, and camps to teach students, employees, and faculty the skills they need in our ever increasing global economy.

There are so many ways to apply the class content for academic or professional goals.

Here are increases that class participants reported from completing cultural bridge class:

  • Intercultural Adjustment and Integration
  • Self-Awareness and Critical Thinking Skills
  • Intercultural Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
  • International Leadership Skills
  • Academic and Workplace Readiness
  • Cross-cultural Communication Skills
  • Intercultural Team Collaboration
  • Self-Confidence and Overall Relocation Satisfaction

For more information about the classes, workshops, or orientations, contact me at tara@hlslinstitute.com

For more class and camp information, visit www.CulturallyConfident.com

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Filed under Higher Education, Leadership, Study Abroad

What is Cultural Competence?

A student of mine shared a link to the State of Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction website during a discussion about cultural competence.
The website shared the following definition of what cultural competence is and what it is not.

“…cultural competence goes beyond memorizing a checklist of surface-level customs and cultural differences.
Cultural competence allows educators to ask questions about their practice in order to successfully teach students who come from different cultural backgrounds.

Developing skills in cultural competence is like learning a language, a sport or an instrument. The learner must learn, re-learn, continuously practice, and develop in an environment of constant change. Cultures and individuals are dynamic — they constantly adapt and evolve.

Cultural competence is:

•Knowing the community where the school is located.
•Understanding all people have a unique world view.
•Using curriculum that is respectful of and relevant to the cultures represented in its student body.
•Being alert to the ways that culture affects who we are.
•Placing the locus of responsibility on the professional and the institution.
•Examining systems, structures, policies and practices for their impact on all students and families.

Cultural competence is not:

•Good intentions.
•Cultural celebrations at designated times of the year, in designated ways.
•Kumbaya diversity.
•A list of stereotypes about what people from a particular cultural group do.
•Assumptions that all students from one culture operate in similar ways and have had similar experiences.
•The responsibility of children, their parents or the community.
•Color-blindness (treating everybody the same).
•Simple tolerance.”

As future educators and school administrators, we need to identify how intercultural and cross-cultural competence influences teacher preparation, student development, curriculum design, and educational policy.

“As educators, we want the best for students and seek ways to meet the needs of all learners in our classrooms. We sometimes find that this requires skills and knowledge far above and beyond the content area we are teaching…
Cultural competence provides a set of skills that professionals need in order to improve practice to serve all students and communicate effectively with their families. These skills enable the educator to build on the cultural and language qualities that young people bring to the classroom rather than viewing those qualities as deficits.

Cultural competence training asks educators to confront the stereotypes held both consciously and unconsciously about students. Bias affects the way that we perceive and teach students and has the potential to negatively affect student achievement.

Teachers who aspire to become more culturally competent can build relationships based on trust with students and their families, even though they experience the world in different ways. This is essential to closing academic achievement gaps and to fulfilling all students’ civil right to a quality education.”

My students are primarily future teachers and administrators. Read the comment section of “Cultural Studies & International Education” for a very interesting dialog about how they perceive the roll of multicultural, intercultural, and cross-cultural K12 education.  Other resources are introduced such as a great video: Why We Need Multicultural Education and a helpful webpage: Building Culturally Competent Organizations.

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Filed under Higher Education, International Education

Course Curriculum + Social Media = Social Curriculum

Some of the most interesting and beneficial college courses that I have instructed or have taken, included some form of interactive discussion using social media.  If fact, many colleges and universities host a campus web service providing classroom discussion forums and student chat rooms.  I believe this is an effective instructional tool but it is also limited. If classroom discussion was available on social media platforms, curriculum topics could include global perspectives and experiences.  Yes, some course material is more sensitive and should be held within the course web service, but other topics could simply contribute greater social benefit and a more robust learning experience.

For example, I often invite guest speakers to visit my course and interact with my students.  Not only do my students gain from the guest speaker’s contributions, but through their interaction and discussion, the guest speaker benefits as well. Many times I have been told that the college student perspective has led to a change or update in the guest speaker’s profession.  For instance, during one of my law and ethics courses, our guest speaker who is a State Senator said that their engagement with my students was a good opportunity to interact with their local constituents and had gained from my student’s opinions, experiences, and perspectives about legislative issues.  In fact, the Senator was also inspired to try a new direction with a campaign strategy.

This got me thinking, if interaction between my guest speakers and my students was so beneficial for all involved, how could I promote these benefits on a larger scale?  How could I encourage a more effective partnership between my students and other resources outside of academia? What I have begun to practice and what I recommend other faculty to investigate is the use of Social Curriculum.  Social Curriculum is a web-based interactive learning environment used for course assignments. Twitter and blogging are two specific Social Curriculum tools that stimulate interactive discussion, build professional networks, and prepare our students as responsible digital citizens. One instructional tool that faculty can use includes a Twitter hashtab for a Tweetchat.  This application is free and provides a forum for real-time conversation that can connect guest speaker(s) to students.  It provides a forum for interactive, current, and ongoing discussions.

Another example of Social Curriculum includes the use of Blogging.  This social forum provides students an outlet to creatively express their responses to course topics either on their own blog website or on a course blog website.  This helps to engage student interest while making connections between course content and practical application. It also allows students to gain from other professionals and scholars in their discipline. In the very least, regardless of the course subject, faculty will be encouraging responsible social business skills.  As we develop Social Curriculum, faculty are preparing students to be responsible digital citizens in a social media culture.

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Filed under Higher Education, Social Business