Culture competence in education setting

| July 15, 2011

Q. What is cultural competence?

Cultural competence refers to an ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures. Cultural competence comprises four components: (a) Awareness of one’s own cultural worldview, (b) Attitude towards cultural differences, (c) Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and (d) cross-cultural skills. Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures.”—wikipedia

Q. Why is cultural competence important in education settings?

Research shows that minority/disadvantage students who are giving up on education are not because they are dumb or disinterested. Rather, they can’t relate themselves to a field in which people from their own communities are not apparent. They don’t have enough skills and confidence to cope with the challenges.

For those who come from the dominant culture, it can be hard for them to recognize other cultures because their own culture is so pervasive and dominant. We, as teachers, need to escape those constraints and to build awareness and understandings of cultural differences.

Q. How do teachers develop their own cultural competence?

“In education, cultural competence is focused on how effective a teacher is for those students who do not share the same personal characteristics (i.e. ethnicity, gender, religion, etc.) or the same cultural background of the teacher.  It entails mastering certain personal and interpersonal awareness and sensitivities, learning specific bodies of cultural knowledge, and mastering a set of skills that underlie effective cross-cultural teaching.”

-monitoring and changing ordinary language in the classroom

-becoming aware of patterns of interaction with students

-integrating cultural relevance and diverse role models into curricula

-confronting and revising differing expectations and stereotypes of students

Tanner, K. & Allen, D. (2007). Cultural competence in the college biology classroom. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 6, 251-258.