How schools can introduce modern cultural education programs

How schools can introduce modern cultural education programs

Our schools and communities are diverse places. An approach called transculturalism sees this as a natural and normal part of society. It offers a starting point for schools to build more understanding and openness in their students. But what is the most practical approach?

Senior Monash lecturer Niranjan Casinader outlines the principles of a transcultural education program for schools in the final instalment of his three-part series.

Allow enough time for your program

It takes time to build transcultural understanding. It cannot be achieved through a series of one-off events like ‘International’ days or food festivals.

When delivered in an ad hoc way, events like these mean ideas about culture can become oversimplified – just about food and clothing, or similar visible signs of culture, which may not always be relevant.

It takes time to develop new attitudes and it takes time to develop more advanced critical thinking skills. One or two lessons or events is not enough.

Events should be part of a staged program of learning that extends over several years of a child’s education.

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It takes time to build transcultural understanding. It cannot be achieved through a series of one-off events.

Make your transcultural education program staged and progressive

Transculturalism is a different approach, one that builds ideas about multiculturalism and interculturalism, but does not replace them.

A reminder of our definitions may prove useful:

focuses on obtaining knowledge about how people from other cultures live
concentrates on how different cultures communicate
cultural diversity is a natural part of society and not a problem to be addressed

The three stages

Initial program of learning Years P-2 or Year 7 Establish students’ knowledge about culture with an emphasis on breaking down stereotypes Multicultural learning
Second stage Years 3-4 or Year 8 Learn more about cross-cultural communication and how to reach across cultural divides Intercultural learning
Third stage Year 5-6 or Year 9-10 Develop a course based on critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Encourage students to see difference as the usual and not something to fear Transcultural

Teachers need to be able to walk the talk

Transcultural understanding needs to be taught by teachers who have transcultural capability themselves. It is a new and nuanced way of looking at the world.

We cannot assume teachers have the skills and understanding to plan and deliver meaningful programs.

Teacher expertise needs to be assessed.  For example, does the teacher have the ability to identify and avoid the simplistic assumptions about culture and people? Programs for the development of transcultural capability need to be built into teacher education and professional development courses.

Casinader, N. and Clemans, A. (2018). Building the transcultural capacities of preservice teachers to support their employability in a globalised world. Intercultural Education, 29 (5) 1-20 [published online 11/9/2018] doi:10.1080/14675986.2018.1500170

Casinader, N.  (2018). Transnational learning experiences and teacher transcultural capacity: the impact on  professional practice –a comparative study of three Australian schools, Intercultural Education, 29 (2), 258-280, doi:10.1080/14675986.2018.1430284

Casinader, N. (2014). Culture, Transnational Education and Thinking: Case Studies in Global Schooling (Chap 1). Routledge: Milton Park, Abingdon.

Casinader, N. (2016). A lost conduit for intercultural education: school geography and the potential for transformation in the  Australian Curriculum, Intercultural Education, 27(3), 257-273, doi: 10.1080/14675986.2016.1150650.

Casinader, N. (2016). Transnationalism in the Australian Curriculum: new horizons or destinations of the past? Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 37(3), 327-340, doi: 10.1080/01596306.2015.1023701.