By Paula Fallas Sanchez - Education Degree student
Ghanaian author Lailah Gifty Akita once said, “Appreciation for cultural diversity is essential for our co-existence” (Akita, 2014). The more developed our world becomes, the more globalized it becomes. Countries are now full of immigrants from diverse backgrounds, and educational institutes must be ready to accommodate those changes. There isn’t an ‘enough’ when it comes to being culturally inclusive. Our globalized world demands more multicultural knowledge, so our educators need to be prepared to reach that standard as best as possible.
Through media and immigration, our globalized world has also become more culturally aware. While the cultural diversity that is growing in the classrooms is a great motivator for this movement, it does not only come down to that. The new generations need to be raised to be culturally respectful and inclusive. Even if one culture is predominant in a classroom, it is still morally and academically beneficial for them to learn multicultural perspectives (Eakings, 2020). However, in order to get to that point, teachers and institutions need to be ready to be inclusive, accepting, and open minded. A survey made by the Public Agenda and the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality showed that while 76% of the teachers surveyed had been trained to teach ethnically diverse classes, six out of ten claimed that the training did not help them with real world challenges (Great School Staff, 2012). The need for students to feel accepted, represented and seen, instead of judged and misunderstood, needs to be prioritized in these times. Teachers need to be prepared to handle challenges that their teaching life will throw at them in their career.
Those who believe that educational institutions are doing enough already when it comes to cultural inclusivity usually have a fear in common. What if schools focus so much on cultural inclusivity that the students that belong to the majority culture start to forget their culture? This type of mindset takes the original idea and gives it a negative twist. Having a culturally inclusive classroom does not push for cultural assimilation but for cultural appreciation (USC, n.d.). By learning about other cultures and about having an open mind, the students are not turning their back on their own culture. Culturally inclusive classrooms push for all cultures to be taken into account regardless of them being the majority or minority culture. As was mentioned, every student benefits from having multicultural teaching. This has been proven to broaden the students’ perspective of the world, not to make them turn against their own culture (Eakings, 2020). Often, when a student sees their culture be appreciated and included, they are filled with pride in their culture (NBACL, n.d.). Schools should be teaching their students to be open-minded and respectful. Embracing multicultural teaching is a step in that direction.
As the world continues to change and become more globalized, education must change along with it. Our classes are becoming more culturally diverse, and so our teaching must as well. This change would benefit all students, even those that belong to the majority cultures. However, to get there we must make sure that our educators are equipped and trained to maintain these types of classrooms. We must stop seeing diversity as a burden instead of as a beautiful strength. Like Lailah Gifty Akita said, “appreciation for cultural diversity is essential for our co-existence” (Akita, 2014).