Essay: The teacher

I have chosen to concentrate my reflection on a point that I think really underlies all other UNESCO Intercultural Education guidelines as it lies in the delivery vehicle of this attempt at bridging cultural gaps and that is the teacher. This is one of the ways that principal three of the UNESCO Intercultural Education Guidelines which states ‘Intercultural Education provides all learners with cultural knowledge, attitudes and skills that enable them to contribute to respect, understanding and solidarity among individuals, ethnic, social, cultural and religious groups and nations’ is said to be achieved. It states that ‘Adequate teacher initial education and permanent professional development aiming at creating awareness of the positive value of cultural diversity and of the right of the person to be different; a critical awareness of the role that local communities and local knowledge systems, languages and social practices play in the learning process and construction of the person in national, regional and global societies” It is indeed critical for the teacher to be able to adequately deliver the intended curriculum that is aimed at promoting respect for cultural diversity and heritage amongst other notions. If the teacher is themselves not versed and equipped at being able to this great task, then this is where professional development comes into play. I might even go as far as stating that the teachers need to partake in the exact lessons that they themselves will go on to deliver. For example, if a teacher was to be encouraging students to bring about their unique identity into the classroom in order for this be shared by the larger group, then this behavior would need to modeled at the level of the staff body where the teacher participates in collaboration on developing curriculum.

”Intercultural training’ has predominantly been associated with the training of adults whose work requires them to interact with people from other cultures. Intercultural training has been informed by a number of fields including ‘cultural anthropology, cross-cultural psychology, sociolinguistics, multicultural education, intercultural communication and international business management’ (Perry, 2011) Perry suggests that perhaps intercultural training could be conducted to reach intercultural competence, however he does not support that this type of knowledge based training alone be sufficient to reach the objective. I agree with this as I do not think that purely knowing the attributes of a culture per se instantly gives you a sensitivity and a relative contextual understanding: the issue if much more complex than that. For example, activities such as Harmony Day in Australia are a good way to begin this cultural exchange and understanding for the students and their family but this should not be an isolated event in the curriculum.

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