Top 7 ways to Introduce Cross-cultural Education in schools, early years provisions & home schooling
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By promoting cross-cultural education, apart from reducing discriminative behaviour, we can help children understand other people and their choices, become more open minded, respectful and sensitive towards other human beings no matter of their ethnicity, cultural background and tradition.
What is cross-cultural education?
Introducing cross-cultural education in early years provision and at schools is relatively easy and very similar to cross-curricular approach. There is no need to organise separate sessions or make a list of topics you want to cover.
The principle is to do it alongside your main curriculum incorporating cross-cultural elements into learning.
For example, when practicing reading you may choose pieces that discuss events, practices, customs from various cultures or countries or simply with the main characters being of various ethnic and cultural background.
You do not want to put special emphasis on the fact that you are covering material or use resources that promote other cultures that the dominant one because by doing so you may unintentionally create unnecessary divisions and distinctions which may result in promoting “us and them” narrative.
Cross-cultural education requires teachers/educators/parents to practice extra sensitivity to make sure everyone feels and is treated equally.
The approach does not aim to teach about different cultures as opposed to the dominant one but rather to celebrate diversity and equality.
How to begin
Cross-cultural education might seem challenging at the very beginning but the more you do it the more natural it becomes for you and the less time it takes to plan your teaching or learning experiences. The following tips will definitely help your to start.
Whenever you work with images, be it a classroom project, a display, a photo illustration of the text or even a story to read make sure the images reflect cultural variety. It helps to start your own collection of multicultural images and keep them in files for easier reference. You will be able to reuse them for different projects. Finding multicultural images should not be difficult, just look for brochures in your local community centre or travel catalogues. The photos should present people of different ethnicity, faiths, professions, age etc. You will need images from variety of places around the world, animals, food, customs, rituals, showing everyday life and celebrations. It’s a good idea to use incorporate multicultural images in your wall displays.
2.Toys, dresses and objects
Particularly important if you work with early years children. You don’t need to buy expensive toys to introduce cross-cultural education and in fact it is even better to use everyday objects as they help create more realistic and at the same time magical atmosphere. As children love role-plays the easiest way to practice cross-cultural education is to offer variety of items such as clothing, accessories, home decoration items that reflect different cultures. These items will be made of various materials, have distinct patterns and decorations typical and unique for different cultures and traditions. Some of them can be easily obtained second-hand but before you offer them to children you need to make sure they are clean and safe. Another great idea is to look for games and puzzles that reflect world’s diversity in a natural way and such are not difficult to find.
Whenever you play music, whether for dance or played in the background, make sure you offer variety. Your collection should contain modern, traditional and folk music from different regions of the world. Organising an instrument corner with unique and exotic items is an excellent way to introduce cross-cultural education.
One of the most effective tools to promote cross-cultural understanding. Your collection should contain fiction and non-fiction books reflecting global diversity. Children love stories from other cultures and there are many great books that explain cultural, religious and ethnic diversity through traditional folk legends or myths. Apart from these, work with books that present natural beauty of the world such as animals typical to certain regions of the world, geographical features and issues related to protecting the natural world.
As children love cooking and food tasting promoting cross-cultural approach is very easy this way especially in early years provisions or at home. Offer variety of food, snacks and drinks that come from different cooking traditions, let children try exotic fruits and vegetables and organise cooking sessions. Make it all your everyday routine, keep it exciting and respect individual children’s dietary needs and preferences. Allow them to choose what they want to try and when/if as pushing them too much will bring the opposite effect.
Particularly relevant to school age children. Introducing a routine of following the world news or interesting facts and asking students to present them to their peers will not only help to know what is happening around the world but will also facilitate students understanding how and to what extent local events might impact the whole world. Encourage students to focus on their interests when choosing their pieces of news to keep the activity as personalised and meaningful as possible.
7.Customs and celebrations
Celebrating cultural events of different traditions is common practice in early years provisions and schools as part of cross-cultural education. Whether it is Divali or Christmas all the events are celebrated with joy and respect for those for whom they are the most meaningful. It is a perfect opportunity to learn more about other cultures and to understand the importance of these events for their spirituality and everyday life.
Cross-cultural education is not about presenting facts and knowledge of different cultural traditions but about developing positive attitudes and building positive and meaningful relationships.
Promoting multicultural education from the very early years helps ensure children will naturally become more sensitive, understanding and respectful towards other people’s life choices and this is what the world needs now.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
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