Definition: “The top three common elements were the awareness, valuing, and understanding of cultural differences; experiencing other cultures; and self-awareness of one’s own culture. These common elements stress the underlying importance of cultural awareness, both of one’s own as well as others’ cultures.” (Deardorf, p. 247)

Observation: The emphasis on awareness of self, as well as, others was the most remarkable point in this article for me. The imperative to reflect on our own cultural beliefs and practices and to try to fully understand where they come from can only give us empathy towards understanding why others practice their beliefs differently. I believe it opens our mindset that each student  is an individual, with a uniquely interconnected set of experiences that define their expression of a personal culture. 

Objectives

  1. To demonstrate that there are many ways of being/acting and many reasons them. 
  2. To build a respectful, culturally sensitive, and inclusive environment in which to learn.

Rationale: “Many of us go through life believing that “our way” is “the way” to do something. We often fail to investigate—or even notice—if there are other approaches to performing a task (such as peeling a banana).” (Hofner Saphiere, D., 2014. Retrieved from “The Cultural Detective Blog” (https://blog.culturaldetective.com/2014/11/25/bananas/). 

  • Using everyday activities as the basis to demonstrate that there can be many ways of seeing, thinking, and doing. 
  • Building the reflective mindset of why we think & do what we think & do and an open-mindedness toward the possibility that there are other equally valid ways of thinking & doing. 
  • While activities can be adaptable to any age group, for this example I’m using a simple task aimed at 7 year olds, because I seems to be universally agreed that this is the age of reason in children and they may be more able to reflect/reason on they actions and thoughts. 
  • I first learned of this question from a South-African friend who lived in Montreal as an AuPair.  I’ve been using it in most of my teaching experiences in some form or other to build open-mindedness. It is detailed in the article by Hofner Saphiere (see above link). 

Activity: Ask the class: “How do you peel a banana?”

  • Give them time to write, draw, or record the answer, to accommodate for different learners styles & abilities.

Follow-up questions: (Reflections will be the basis of my assessment)

“Why do you peel the banana that way?” 

“Can you think of another way to peel the banana and how would that be?

“Who or what might peel the banana in that different way?

“Why do you think they peel the banana that way?

  • Collect the answers and prepare a presentation of them for the class with the opening statement “All ways are equally good”.
  • Invite the students to share those answers with the class, before making the presentation, again with the opening statement “All ways are equally good”.

Follow-up activities: Ask other questions about common activities and pose similar questions for reflection. 

Resources:

Deardorff, D. K. (2006). Identification and Assessment of Intercultural Competence as a Student Outcome of Internationalization. Journal of Studies in International Education10(3), 241–266.

The Cultural Detective Blog: https://blog.culturaldetective.com/2014/11/25/bananas/

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