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How to address cultural diversity in the classroom?

Cultural Diversity

Cultural multiplicity and richness enhances the overall learning experience in all areas of life.  In schools, students get the opportunity to mix and work with, and understand others who may be very different from them. Such heterogeneity creates an atmosphere of acceptance and children learn to function in a diverse multicultural and multiethnic environment.

The role of educators and parents in creating a positive environment within the classroom is of utmost importance. If they promote the idea of equality and diversity in a manner that children understand, it will help them to appreciate unique cultural differences, and learn to cherish these, rather than judge them.  Children need to be introduced to the concept of equality and multiculturalism from an early age. A number of teaching methods can be employed to ensure you build an inclusive environment within the classroom. Listed below are a few approaches that can be effective in addressing cultural diversity in the classroom.

Use of diversity in teaching resources

The resources used in the teaching process must include examples from different cultures. If you acquaint students with the concept of diversity through stories, posters and pictures of people from varied cultures, this may help to imbibe a sense of acceptance. Children realise that such differences are normal and not something to approach with fear or apprehension. Populate wall spaces with pictures and information about people from different ethnic backgrounds this will encourage better understanding of the many races and groups that exist in the world.

Activities and integration weeks

Hosting weeks dedicated to particular themes or a culture is an interesting way to introduce children to the idea of diversity. Stories about traditions, festivals and food can be shared during these events. The knowledge and concepts acquired through these activities can be incorporated in other areas of the curriculum to reinforce the idea.

Discussions and debates

Exchanging and discussing ideas about diversity is another effective tool for creating an atmosphere of equality. Kids should be given the opportunity to express their ideas about diversity. Any negative attitude or thought must be discussed. Parents and educators must ensure that children feel comfortable to discuss or report any incidents of discrimination. Building a strong bond in the classroom makes a student feel valued – a sense of belonging develops and they are able to discuss their concerns openly.

The Equality Act of 2010 brings out the legal responsibilities of public bodies including schools to promote equality. Here are Guidelines regarding  equality and inclusion that schools must adhere to. This must not merely be limited to ensuring that discrimination of any form is not practised; rather, attempts should also be made to imbibe healthy values within children.

Another essential goal for building a culturally responsive education system is to encourage children to appreciate their culture. Children from minority ethnic groups may feel pressured to adopt new cultural norms and traditions. However, it’s important to preserve one’s own culture while respecting and accepting others’. A broad and structured approach with emphasis on acceptance and respect can help build an inclusive education system.

Racial discrimination may also take the form of cyber bullying or cyber racism. Schools can employ e-safety solutions to deal effectively with these issues. To find out more about e-Safety solutions, follow Securus Software on Twitter and connect with us on LinkedIn.

Greg Johnson
Greg Johnson

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