Cultural Competency Statement: Navigating the Labyrinth of Life
I recognize the importance of preparing students of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds for full participation in an integrated society while preserving and perpetuating their many unique cultural and historical identities. I promote the free exchange of ideas in an environment that celebrates the dignity, worth, and contributions of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds as a means of enabling individuals to reach their greatest potential. Communication is an essential skill utilized by all instructors. It is important to be a culturally competent communicator. It is also important to identify the belief systems of both the student and instructor to spot blocks to communication. For example, instructors must be able to:
1. Identify ethnocentrism and help students and others in the community to understand that there is “no one best way.”
2. Identify stereotyping and be prepared to explain why generalizing about a person while ignoring individual difference (e.g., "she's like that because she's Asian – all Asians are nonverbal”) is both unfair and morally wrong.
3. Identify cultural blindness and be prepared to explain that if differences are ignored and one proceeds as though differences did not exist (e.g., "there's no need to worry about a person's culture -- if you're a sensitive teacher, you do okay") that students are cheated both academically and personally. Instead, instructors must strive to recognize that:
Everyone has a culture. To understand cultures different from our own means to take an exciting and rewarding life journey. Instructors must keep an open mind.
It is important to take time to collect relevant cultural information as an element of the learning process. Instructors must understand and accept that sometimes their preconceived – or even learned – perceptions may be wrong.
We must not judge (i.e., we must be careful about interpreting the culturally different student's behavior, especially if we are unfamiliar with the culture.)
We must notice and negotiate differences in the understanding of teaching and learning.
As a culturally aware instructor, I:
1. Work to create an atmosphere of acceptance, civility, and respect for the rights and sensibilities of each individual, regardless of economic background or status, ethnic background, political views, sexual orientation, gender, or other personal characteristics and beliefs.
2. Actively help to create an organizational environment that seeks, nurtures, values, and rewards multiple perspectives that reflect the rich heritage of many cultures. I use cultural diversity in the classroom as a learning tool, a way to help others open their minds and hearts to all peoples sharing the planet.
3. Provide a community presence supportive of cultural diversity through meaningful collaborations with and support of other organizations. I do this by donating culturally diverse, academically recognized story books to my local school district.
© 2006 Rosemary R. Reigle, Ed.D. All rights reserved.