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Benefits of Culturally-Inclusive Curriculum
7 min read
Early this week, I reached out to my friends asking if anyone would like to join me in writing a blog article together on topics such as culture and education. Tejaswini Gadde, a good friend of mine and the mother of a 5yo boy Advaith, expressed interest in collaborating. We quickly found a topic of common interest and named the piece “Benefits of Culturally-Inclusive Curriculum”.
Back in 2012 - 2015, Tejaswini and I worked in a team setting at the IBM Hyderabad campus. At the time, our work mainly focused on TechOps activities on IBM’s internal end-user computing infrastructure. Currently, Tejaswini is employed at Dell Technologies as a Product Management Advisor, and I attend graduate school at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The purpose of this article is to showcase the variety of benefits that culturally-inclusive curricula bring in our education system. This article is made for general awareness for educational researchers, graduate students, parents of young children, and anyone interested in the topic. This article is an Open Education Resource (OER) and contains citations from the scientific literature. You can cite this article in your research, college essays, or anywhere needed. The APA citation nomenclature is provided at the bottom of the article.
Culturally Responsive Teaching
Educators have been grappling with the question of how to educate students in an increasingly diverse society for decades. They are tasked with the challenge of creating an inclusive curriculum that respects and incorporates the diverse perspectives of all students. Incorporating cultural perspectives into the curriculum is an important step in creating an equitable and inclusive educational environment. This requires an understanding of different cultural backgrounds and how they can be applied in the classroom setting (Tichnor-Wagner et al., 2019, p. 140). In this article, we will explore the benefits of incorporating cultural perspectives into curriculum, which can be seen in an increased sense of belonging and engagement among students, as well as a heightened knowledge of cultural diversity and an appreciation for different cultures. We expand more on this in the sections below. By embracing cultural perspectives in the curriculum, educators can better equip students to be successful in a globalized world where cultural understanding and acceptance is of utmost importance. We believe that by including cultural perspectives in the curriculum could lead to a more unified and harmonious classroom environment, as well as a greater appreciation for different cultures.
Culturally responsive teaching is a form of teaching in which sensitivity is developed to the needs of students from racial and ethnic minority groups, as well as monocultural classrooms (Kozleski, 2010; Gay, 2002; Wlodkowski & Ginsberg, 1995). Culturally responsive teaching is an approach to education that is rooted in understanding the needs of students from diverse backgrounds and cultures (Orlich et al., 2012, p. 59). By recognizing and valuing the unique cultural and racial identities of each student, culturally responsive teaching can create an equitable and inclusive learning environment for all. Culturally responsive teaching starts with an understanding of the different cultures, values, and beliefs that exist within a classroom. It recognizes that each student brings their own unique perspective to the classroom and that these perspectives should be valued and respected. By creating an environment where different cultures and perspectives are welcomed and celebrated, teachers can create a sense of belonging and acceptance for all students.
Exploring the benefits of incorporating cultural perspectives into curriculum can be an invaluable experience for educators, students, and the classroom as a whole. Not only can it lead to an increased sense of belonging and engagement among students, but it can also lead to a heightened knowledge of cultural diversity, as well as an appreciation for different cultures. By embracing cultural perspectives in the curriculum, educators can better equip students to be successful in a globalized world where cultural understanding and acceptance is of utmost importance. This can also foster a more unified and harmonious classroom environment, allowing students to gain a greater understanding of different cultures and the associated customs and traditions, ultimately has the potential to impact learning (Kidd, 2007). Furthermore, incorporating cultural perspectives into the curriculum can also have positive implications for the development of students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as help foster an appreciation for the diverse backgrounds of their peers. The inclusion of cultural perspectives in the curriculum can be a highly rewarding experience for all involved, allowing for a more inclusive and understanding classroom environment.
Curricula that are designed keeping in mind the learner culture can provide a multitude of educational and social benefits to students (Gay, 2015). From the development of their critical thinking and problem-solving skills to fostering an appreciation for the different backgrounds of their peers, the inclusion of cultural perspectives in the curriculum presents a unique opportunity to create an inclusive and understanding classroom environment. Moreover, this type of education can serve to enrich students’ overall academic experience, allowing them to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the world around them. Ultimately, the incorporation of cultural perspectives into the curriculum can be a highly rewarding experience for both students and teachers alike, allowing for an enriched educational atmosphere and an appreciation for diversity.
We also think that one of the major benefits of incorporating cultural perspectives into curriculum is that it allows students to become more aware of different viewpoints. Understanding different cultures, traditions, and beliefs can help students become more open-minded and tolerant of others. By learning about different perspectives, students are more likely to be more respectful and understanding of their peers and the people around them. Students need to understand that different cultures, traditions, and beliefs can be so vastly different from their own. By exploring these differences, students can become more tolerant of other people and also more open-minded in general.
A few examples of incorporating cultural perspectives into curriculum would be having discussions about race, class and gender on a weekly basis at school. In addition, it's important for teachers to get training in order for them to be knowledgeable about teaching marginalized topics to their students in a way that encourages conversation and growth. This may be especially helpful in the contexts where international and transfer students are subjects.
Here, we discuss how incorporating cultural perspectives into the curriculum could benefit educational researchers to further our understanding of the topic. By increasing our understanding of different cultures, we can foster a greater appreciation for the diversity of our planet, reduce prejudice and discrimination, and create a more welcoming and inclusive classroom for all.
Offer special interest classes focused on a specific culture or region.
Introduce guest speakers from different cultures to share their stories.
Incorporate cultural holidays and festivities into the school calendar.
Incorporate culturally relevant texts, films, and music into the curriculum.
Use case studies to explore the history and impact of cultural practices.
Create an international student exchange program.
Provide language classes in multiple languages.
Establish a student-run committee to celebrate cultural diversity.
Have students create projects to showcase their culture.
Connect with local cultural organizations to bring in experts to teach classes.
Culturally responsive teaching is an important step in creating an equitable and inclusive learning environment. By recognizing and valuing the unique cultures, values, and beliefs of each student, teachers can foster a more inclusive and equitable classroom for all.
Every child has the right to an education that is an equal opportunity - one that fosters a deep understanding of themselves as well as others. The education system needs to reflect these values, or else social and economic equality will not exist in our society.
A big thanks to Tejaswini for agreeing to write with me. We hope to collaborate on more such projects in the future.
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Tichnor-Wagner, A., Parkhouse, H., Glazier, J., & Cain, J. M. (2019). Becoming a globally competent teacher. Ascd.
Kozleski, E. B. (2010). Culturally Responsive Teaching Matters!. Online Submission.
Gay, G. (2002). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching. Journal of teacher education, 53(2), 106-116.
Gay, G. (2015). The what, why, and how of culturally responsive teaching: International mandates, challenges, and opportunities. Multicultural education review, 7(3), 123-139.
Wlodkowski, R. J., & Ginsberg, M. B. (1995). A framework for culturally responsive teaching. Educational Leadership, 53(1), 17-21.
Orlich, D. C., Harder, R. J., Callahan, R. C., Trevisan, M. S., & Brown, A. H. (2012). Teaching strategies: A guide to effective instruction. Cengage Learning.
Kidd, J. Culturally Responsive Teaching Conceptual Framework for Professional Development Mona Assaf EDUC 895 Spring 2007.
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