What does it mean to be culturally relevant?
This is the topic that has divided the world of cultural studies for decades.
And what do we mean by that?
Well, if we are to make sense of cultural difference and the way in which different cultural groups engage with each other, we need to understand what the terms ‘cultural pluralism’ and ‘cultural relevance’ mean.
In the context of our modern, globalised world, there are currently more than 1,000 distinct cultural groups in the world and a wide range of sub-cultures, identities and sub-sects of society.
We can call them cultural plurals or culturally relevant pedagogies, if the context is right.
They are not monolithic, they are not uniform, they vary in their focus, but they are the kind of pedagogical approaches that are likely to be most relevant to the needs of students, teachers and students of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
Here we are going to look at some of the ways in which cultural diversity in the UK can be used to better prepare students and teachers for life in the 21st century.
What does ‘cultural plurals’ mean?
If you are a student studying English at an English language school or a teacher preparing for your first year teaching English, you might be surprised to learn that there are some things about the UK that are not culturally relevant.
A number of people think that if you are from a different ethnic or cultural group, you are culturally different from us, and therefore you cannot be culturally useful.
But this is just a misunderstanding.
If you look at the academic literature on multiculturalism in Britain, it is often said that the best way to teach multiculturalism is to use the same curriculum as your own, and the same vocabulary.
You may be surprised, however, to learn how many other issues can be tackled by the same approach.
You could be studying to become a doctor or an accountant, or you could be a singer or a writer, and it is the same as if you were a member of a different cultural group.
What this means is that in many areas of education and life, students and teaching staff must make the best use of their own cultures.
You might think this is a simplistic and perhaps unrealistic view, but there are many ways that cultural differences are being addressed, and by using the same knowledge and language as your students.
There are also ways in a variety of areas of pedagogic practice that may help you to use your own cultural differences and diversity in a way that is more relevant to your students, and to the world at large.
Some of these are already part of the curriculum at schools and academies across the UK.
And others are new, such as the ‘cultural learning’ programme that is currently being introduced by schools and colleges in the United Kingdom.
The aim of this new programme is to teach the students of the future about how they can use their own cultural and ethnic diversity and in the same way as their peers.
We will look at three key aspects of the cultural learning programme in the next article, but first, let’s look at how students are being prepared to tackle their own differences.
What are the key cultural differences?
What do students need to know about their own culture?
We all have different experiences, experiences that are shaped by our culture and experience, experiences of different places, cultures and beliefs.
This is what we all learn from our own teachers, parents, siblings, and friends.
These may or may not be taught in school.
But the curriculum is always based on what you are able to do, and what you know about your own culture.
So for example, if you want to study linguistics, you will need to get used to the fact that the way that languages are spoken in the modern world is different from that in the past.
This may mean that you need to talk to people who speak a different language.
This could also mean that your knowledge about languages is more limited, or it could mean that if someone has a different point of view or culture, you need more information to understand their point of point.
The same is true for many other things, such in art or music, the use of music, writing or theatre.
In other words, what you learn from your teachers, from your friends and from your own experiences is what is most relevant.
The curriculum for English as a language, or ESL, is based on this concept.
English as A language is taught in English as it was first taught in England, and has been used since the 13th century.
For most students, this means a history of English as the language of the nation and a description of how the English language has changed over the centuries.
ESL is also a curriculum that is most appropriate for English students.
This means that it focuses on the ways that the English has changed in recent decades, and how this is relevant