The New Weave- Culturally Inclusive Curriculum A ‘culturally inclusive curriculum’ is the planning and delivery of education to ensure that social and cultural perspectives are reflected in all aspects of teaching and learning across the curriculum. Any part of the curriculum cannot be primarily altered by the teacher, so in order to adapt a culturally inclusive curriculum a collaborative support is needed as a means of creating sustainable change and improvement that integrates successful outcomes of programmes into mainstream schooling practice.
The needed support will rely on expertise, decisions and the involvement of key stakeholders such as; parents, teachers, the community and the Education Department in establishing, implementing and monitoring the procedures. Going through all this procedures is as important as culturally inclusive will not only involve within the classroom but within the community and the school.
This assignment will be discussing the importance of culturally inclusive curriculum to students learning, then describe how as a teacher would facilitate the sharing of cultural experiences of students, outline the challenges faced when facilitating of cultural experiences and how it was dealt with and finally the concluding with the fact that diverse cultures in schools is emerging. Education is an introduction to worthwhile learning with teaching methods that must be morally accepted.
Culture is the background or foundation of a person’s upbringing within their society which includes their store of important knowledge, skills and values expressed through their language and passing them on to the younger generation for the sake of cultural continuity and survival. In this context, education and culture are inextricably linked since the content of all education has value of structure that is associated with a particular cultural scheme. As education and culture are inextricably linked, culturally inclusive curriculum is a vital approach to the education system. In most Oceanic societies today, traditional cultural values underpin much of what people emphasise and think about, and continue to be the framework that people use to justify their behaviour and to explain the behaviour of others”. (Thaman, 1988). To embrace the knowledge of diverse cultures of all students in education is to understand the cultural backgrounds of the students, from there, teachers will be able to create a learning space for their students’ which is known as ‘culturally inclusive curriculum’.
With different cultural backgrounds and heritage ‘culturally inclusive curriculum’ is based on reflecting on students’ prior knowledge, views, values and understanding, teachers can then build on that foundation with activities and resources that are familiar to the students. The importance of a ‘culturally inclusive curriculum’ approaches have various benefits in the classroom, the school and the community.
The Solomon Islands Education Strategic plan 2002-2004 takes this into consideration when it states: …there is an acceptance that education has increased tensions with communities…The education system is seen by many as being unconnected and antagonistic to the social and cultural values on which Solomon Island communities and society is based…Education must be available to all regardless of gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background of citizens. (Ministry of Education, Solomon Islands 2002:1-2).
The approaches will be describing how a teacher would facilitate the sharing of cultural experiences of students which with benefits that will explain the essential features that will reflect back towards the students’ wellbeing that will be focused on enhancing students learning. The approaches are: Teaching programs will meet the specific needs of students from diverse backgrounds to ensure equitable learning outcomes where students are provided with support to develop language and literacy proficiency.
While English is the major shared language within the Pacific Island countries, it can be used as a tool and mean of communication for our literacy and language development of the social, cultural, community and economic vitality of our nation to draw upon adoption of cultures such as language and a wide variety of languages other than English. Activities that they will be able to relate to, for example are: 1.
Sharing ideas of the different uses of plants for medicinal purposes and other uses and plant names. This idea will bring students to able to make connections with other cultures as some plant names and uses will be similar. e. g. similar names of coconut; ini- Nauruan, naniu- Fijian and niu- Tongan and Hawaiian. 2. A discussion, students share stories of adapted languages. e. g. Story of how the Ikiribati and the Nauruan adopted a word A European boy came off a ship with a pet dog, the Ikiribati and the Nauruan bserved carefully at the strange looking creature and they asked each other, “What is it called? ” The European boy called his dog, “come here Rover” The Ikiribati went back to his people and told them that the creature (dog) is called a ‘Dagamea’ as from the word ‘come here’. The Nauruan went back to his people and told his people that the creature (dog) is called ‘Robar’ as from the word ‘Rover’. Until now in Kiribati, dagamea mean dog and in Nauru, robar means dog. These benefits are:
Schools actively engage with parents and community members from diverse backgrounds to support the engagement and learning of their children this will enable the classroom to become an independent space which promotes open dialogue and communication to allow for personal and social education and will also encourage a cooperative learning. Students will develop an understanding and respect for different cultures, religions, values and views, as they are able to understand and see the similarities between their own cultural backgrounds and other cultures and relate to them.
Diverse cultural backgrounds of all students are recognised and valued so no students are being left out but will be given the opportunity to express and share their own cultural background and build on their prior knowledge in a diverse and meaningful way this will enable students to gain confidence in their self image. The inference are the approach will analyse the cultural similarities, it is human nature that having something in common always attract interest and will create a diverse society within the classroom. Students will view that culture is a web of interrelationships and will provide meaning to and a framework for their existence in a particular society”. (Thanman , 2001). Pacific education must prepare our children for the reality of life beyond the walls of the classroom, the schoolyard and their familiar society; they must be a prepared for the complex life beyond their comfort zone, but to prepare them to inculcate values and character that would enable full and positive participation in both local cultural community life and in the global community.
However, there is yet another perspective of the issue concerning the idea of sharing cultural experiences of student which are the challenges teachers will face when utilizing the idea. It is always best to speculate and evaluate the idea of adopting changes and the pedagogy used. In spite of the importance highlighted of the idea of sharing cultural experiences let us not overlook the challenges which the teacher will be facing.
Challenges that I may be facing as a teacher are to mention a few are; trying to get to know all the cultural background of all my students and not leaving one behind due to my lack of knowledge and understanding, coming to terms with my own cultural beliefs, religion and values into accepting other beliefs, religions and values and the limited understanding of what curriculum reform was about and unable to satisfactorily implement the new curricula.
Trying to get to know all the cultural background of all my students and not leaving one behind due to my lack of knowledge and understanding, is as a teacher, more research, planning and extra hard work have to be carried out. As some cultural experiences maybe dominant than the other, as a teacher I have to try to balance them out and be resourceful and creative in planning activities to be made as equally interesting and not letting one culture dominate the other. Coming to terms with my own cultural background, religion and values and accepting other beliefs, religions and values.
As an adult without the opportunity of a culturally diverse upbringing or teacher training on the issue, it will be a challenge to understand and interrelate with other cultural beliefs especially when it comes to religion and beliefs. While moulding my students to be culturally diverse I will be going through the same process and learning myself. The limited understanding of what curriculum reform was about and unable to satisfactorily implement the new curricula of ‘culturally inclusive curriculum’.
Due to my lack of knowledge of other cultural backgrounds, it will be a challenge to implement or even teach the new cultural inclusive curricula. In conclusion, culturally inclusive curriculum is an important approach in this modern time, as even though there will be challenges when teachers are actually facilitating the sharing of cultural experiences within the classroom. Culture inclusive in our curricula is becoming a demand due to the increase of multicultural backgrounds of students which has brought attention to educators to take action on the issue.
Diverse cultures in Pacific schools is increasing so let us use this as an opportunity to prepare our children to be able to strive in the wider global network. Bibliography Ministry of Education, Solomon Islands. 2002. Education strategic plan 2002- 2004. Government of Solomon Islands, Solomon Is. Thaman, K. H. (1988). Ako and Faiako: cultural values, educational ideas and teachers’ role perceptions in Tonga. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of the South Pacific, Suva. Thanman, K. T. (2001). Culturally inclusive teacher education in Oceania. International Education Journel, 26 (5), 1-2.