Should teachers learn about the history of other cultures before teaching students?
Teachers today get to hear a lot about educational gaps, achievement gaps, readiness for school gaps, funding gaps, but there is another gap that goes unnoticed and that is the cultural gap. A gap that separates the teacher and students. Most of the teachers in the education system are White, English speakers, and middle class. Whereas the students come from various backgrounds and cultures. Many teachers take the colour blindness rule, and treat the students as they would want to be treated themselves. But this does not wash away what is true, that culture matters. It is a key aspect in who we are as a person.
Culture is not just holidays, religious traditions, or language; it is the living situation each individual experiences. As teachers it is your job to encourage the intellectual development of every child, for which we need to move past the colour blindness technique and accept change. Only by accepting others cultural backgrounds will teachers be able to fully help a child develop intellectually.
Teachers today need to be prepared to give children a quality education regardless of the cast, colour, and creed of the child. There are many cases in which we see children fail, and when put under different circumstances they thrive; why is that? Why would a child fail in one place just to thrive and grow in the other? The answer is simple, there is a fundamental flaw in teaching. And the only way to overcome this barrier is by understand cultural behaviour. By making the growing child feel safe and understood.
Competence in cross cultural communication requires teachers to dive below the surface, and take a look at the rest of the iceberg. It is an onion peeling process, which requires deep cultural information, that can affect how a student learns and how a teacher instructs. While the iceberg and onion metaphor informs us about the complex nature of different cultures, they can also arouse a range of feelings. As you are aware, running into an iceberg can cause a jolt, and peeling an onion can make you cry. Now when we take a look from metaphors to analogy, the process of becoming culturally skilled takes a lot of experience, and can include things such as surprise, and you might even feel offended at times. When teachers become culturally skillful they must understand that with great power comes great responsibility. This will not just teach teachers how cultures are different, but also teach them how different cultures respond to similar situations.
Once you have understood that the child comes from different beliefs, abilities, and style; you as an educator are required to create a system that the child responds well to. You can take help from visual aid, multicultural materials, and topics that will encourage the child to explore different cultural and racial perspectives. If you as a teacher show sensitivity to their cultural values, it will give you an opportunity to connect with them on a deeper level.
When foreign students move it causes a huge confusion for them, as their cultures are different and it is hard for them to cope. Which is why it is your job as a teacher to help merge into the system, without affecting the quality of education for other students. If you help your students to share their cultural identity with others, it will help others understand them better too. Teachers have great power, the element that constructs civilised societies; your job is not just to make them smart, it is to make them good.