Hosted on the NY Times’ Lesson Plans Blog, this article called The Cross-Cultural Classroom provides a good overview of some of the issues faced by educators seeking to harness intercultural opportunities within their schools. In particular, Christina Sunnarah focuses on the need for the teacher to develop her own cultural competence in order to better understand her students, and therefore “be as effective as possible with the students” she works with. Her school occupies a unique position culturally, as she explains here, but the ideas resonate well for those of us interested in intercultural education in general.
Here are two quotes:
To be able to know others, especially diverse others, one must know the self. So the growth of a culturally competent educator starts there. We must look within for a deeper understanding of who we are before we can adequately address the needs of our students.
Schools don’t exist in vacuums; they are situated within communities. Community involvement helps me understand the socio-cultural backgrounds of my students’ lives and build bridges between the home and school. This exposure helps challenge my own perspectives and biases.