Cultural Sensitivity in Education
Creating a safer learning experience
I want to open with a story but I want to tell it from two different perspectives.
It's a normal Tuesday morning the bell rings and students are slowly trickling in for breakfast. One of the other teachers on duty groans " her favorite student" just arrived and she is already on 10. The student comes in and is aggravated but due to that being the child's normal temperament she goes unnoticed.
She goes through the line and you hear a random outburst. You go to see what's going on and you find the student refuses to leave because they didn't have anything that she wanted. You finally talk the student down and you can get her to grab a plate and make her way to the table. The other teachers see you and shake their heads.
Better you than them.
You make your way back to the teachers you begin to explain what happened with the student and how you deescalated the situation. But the other teachers write her off as having a horrible attitude, lazy, and just a horrible student to teach.
Now on the other hand.
It's a normal Tuesday morning you wake up to your parents arguing you go into your room to check on your sisters they are still fast asleep. You quietly close the door and sneak down to see what's going on with your parents. Your father has a gun to your mother's head and you're begging for him to let her go. After what seems like hours your father calms down and you and your mother can breathe.
You made it through another episode!
It's now 7:15 you've been up for hours with your parents and now it's time for school. You wake your sisters and prepare the three of you to go to school. One sister is hungry and creams to the top of her lungs in demand of food you quietly hush her to not disturb your parents.
You remember what happened last time we cried about food.
The other sister is still in bed and refuses to get up it's now 7:30 and you still have to walk to the bus stop. You finally get everyone dressed and ready and now you (10) and your little sisters (5 and7) have to make your way to the bus stop. The bus comes and it's time to walk into the school. Immediately you see "your favorite teacher". You exchange eye contact and you get into the line.
Today they are having your favorite breakfast you're sure you checked the school menu before coming this morning! You were looking forward to breakfast today! But the choices are different and you lose it! Your whole morning comes crumbling down in that one second.
Now Oxford defines Cultural Diversity as the existence of a variety of cultural or ethnic groups within a society.
With that, I present you with a third perspective one of respect, understanding, and empathy.
This perspective is what Cultural Sensitivity in Education should look and feel like.
It's a normal Tuesday morning the bell rings and students are slowly trickling in for breakfast. One of the other teachers on duty groans "her favorite student" just arrived and she is already on 10. The student comes in and is aggravated you picked up on it but due to it being the child's normal temperament you don't think anything of it. She goes through the line and you hear a random outburst.
She's lost it.
You go to see what's going on and you find that the student refuses to leave because they didn't have anything she wanted.
Here is where empathy, respect, and understanding come into play.
Cultural Sensitivity says that you understand your student's differences and likenesses, their environment, and their challenges allowing you to approach every student and situation with the appropriate level of compassion and sensitivity.
You approach her and instead of confronting her for being disruptive. You acknowledge what you see. You ask her what upset her and you actively wait and listen. You acknowledge that you heard and understood her feelings and ask her why breakfast this morning upset her. She goes on to say how she was excited about breakfast and how tough her morning was. And suddenly you realize it was never the breakfast or walking through the line. But it was finally having a chance to be in control. To be a child and make a decision for you... breakfast!
You finally talk the student down and you can get her to grab a plate and make her way to the table.
In my three years of teaching, I've learned that education comes with a certain level of patience and nurturing that not everyone has no matter how much you love the profession you know it's a passion when working.to create a change ignites a change in you!